Stenciling on Fabric – Tutorial.

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This is some of the ink that I am using for stenciling.  Ink, as a rule, is much thicker than fabric paint or any paint used on fabric.

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In this photo you are able to see the difference that paint presents.  Paint will bleed on the fabric whereas ink does not.  In this tutorial I am not going to be using paint but ink instead.

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In this photo you can really see the consistency of the ink.  I am using an ink that is advertised for screen printing, painting, stenciling, etc.  As you can see by this photo I am mixing colors.  I am attempting to create a color that I am calling ‘oxblood red’.  My own creation of course.  I am not measuring the amounts of the red, white and brown ink that I use.  I am mixing until I am satisfied with the color.  I have been inspired to come up with this color because I really like the dye color that is called ‘oxblood red’.  I have not come up with an exact match yet.

I am mixing the white in with the red because the white decreases the translucency.  I want red to be the strongest color so I used the largest quantity of red.  Then I mixed in brown, using only a little at a time.  It is easier to add more than to try to take away.

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This is what I came up with.  I am pleased – mostly.  In this photo you can see an example of a stencil brush.  A stencil brush is flat because the brush is pounced up and down.

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This is an example of supplies that you will need.  Starting from top left you will need: paper towels (a lot of them), crafting sticks or plastic spoons for getting the ink out of the container, ink colors of your choice, a paper plate for your palette, stencil brushes of various sizes, stencils, a tote bag or fabric item of your choice for stenciling, fabric protector.  I use a thin plastic type of cutting mat that I purchased at Wal-Mart.  It works great.

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In this photo you can see the stencil that I have used and pounced the brush with the ink on it.  The image above the stencil is the same stencil that I had already done.  Stencils can be purchased from crafting stores such as Michael’s, Joann’s, Hobby Lobby, etc.  I have checked and stencils can also be purchased on Ebay.  There are stencils available from Etsy.  You can even make your own stencils.  Making your own stencils is a very loaded topic that I will cover that in an upcoming  blog post.

The item that i am stenciling on is a canvas tote bag.  The canvas is great to stencil on because it is thick and it has a tight weave so that it does not distort by stretching.

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Here you can see me pouncing the ink on the brush over the stencil.  This canvas tote bag is sooo much easier to stencil on rather than that military jacket in a previous post.  This is smooth sailing in comparison.  You want to get enough ink on you brush to ‘fill in’ the image on the stencil but not so much that there is a lot of smearing.  Be sure to ‘pounce’ your brush up and down being careful not to make ‘brushing’ strokes or try to smear the ink onto the item that you are stenciling.blog post - stenciling 009

Here is one side of the tote that is finished.  There are two of the stencils (paisley) that were smeared.  Can you locate them?  That is one thing about using the same color and type of design on all of your stencils on fabric, mistakes don’t stand out real bad.  At this point I would like to give you a few helpful pointers.

*Have plenty of paper towels close at hand.  Your hands will get messy.

*The ink does wash off of your hands with soap and water.

*Have a container of water close at hand to clean off your brush, especially if you are changing colors.  If you do this, dry your brush thoroughly on paper towels.

*I do not recommend wearing good clothing to do this.  When I was stenciling on the military jacket I frequently wore overalls that I wiped my hands on that had ink on them.

*Get a lot of practice.

*The ink that I am using is not available in stores.  I purchased it through Dharma Trading.  There is a web site for Dharma Trading.

*I did put a large piece of freezer paper under the tote that I was stenciling just in case the ink went through the fabric.  The shiny, waxy side of the freezer paper was up.  I especially do this when using fabric paint.

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In this photo I am showing the thin plastic that I have placed on the inside of the tote to prevent any bleeding through.

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In this photo I am about to heat set the ink onto the fabric.  The ink does not change the color of the fiber itself but lies on the surface of the fibers of the fabric.  A dye will change the color of the fiber.  Because the ink is on the surface, it has to be heat set so that it adheres to the fiber.  I have the one side of the tote ‘sandwiched’ between two pieces of foil.  This is to mostly prevent the ink from bleeding through and to prevent it adhering to your iron.

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Set your iron for the appropriate temperature for the fabric that you are heat setting on.  In this case, cotton.  The iron must be held in place for the count of ten to heat set the ink.  This is what works for me.  It may be different for others.  Be sure to heat set all of the surface that has the ink on it.  If you are not certain that the ink is set, go back over it with your iron.blog post - stenciling 014

Here is the finished product.  I must confess that this is just one side of the tote.  I am going to stencil the same designs with the same color on the other side.  Then I am going to list it in our shop on Etsy.  I will probably do this on Wednesday or Friday.

This is the completion of my tutorial for stenciling on fabric.  Please give me your feedback or ask me any question that you have and I will do my best to give you the correct answer.  Thank you so much everyone!

3 responses »

  1. It’s so pretty! Who would have thought it started out as a plain, white bag? The instructions were very clear thank you. I look forward to seeing the finished item.

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