One of my favorite tricks for customizing small pieces of fabric is using vinyl as a stencil. It’s totally easy and rewarding, and since the vinyl is sticky on the back, the lines tend to be sharp and crisp if you are careful. I love to stencil on shirts, quilt labels, bags, you name it.
You may have noticed on our home page or the Scissor Fob Kit page that I am wearing this apron with a Cloth Parcel patch on it. You guessed it; we made the patches using this method. Today you will see exactly how I made it and how you can create your own custom pieces of fabric. You will need access to a vinyl cutter, or have your artwork cut for you from one of the many shops on Etsy. Our favorite shop for vinyl is Azurerocket. For this project, however, I used my personal craft cutter.
I use a roll of the old school glossy stuff for my stencils. The vinyl does not need to be cut any different than if you were making a normal vinyl decal. However, you do need to weed it exactly opposite. Basically, you remove the vinyl in all the spots you want the paint to be. If you order a vinyl from someone, be sure to tell this to them. Here’s what my stencil looks like with all the extra vinyl weeded out:
Now, apply the contact paper and you are ready to rock. If you have applied vinyl before, this is exactly the same process. Put contact paper on top of the vinyl, then remove the paper backing from the vinyl and put it on your fabric.
Carefully, remove the contact paper. I like to pull the contact paper with one hand and hold down the vinyl with the other. Since I only have two hands, I couldn’t get a photo of this step. You are now ready to begin painting in the stencil. I use fabric paint and a stiff stenciling brush. Don’t forget to put something behind your fabric, unless you don’t mind getting paint on your table. I use the paper backing from the vinyl or contact paper, since it’s always the perfect size.
Unless I am using white paint, I usually only need to do one or two coats. Make sure that you brush in every part of the stencil, but don’t leave a glob of paint hiding in a corner or along an edge, as this will make the lines blotchy and uneven when you remove the vinyl. You probably could wait until the paint dries to remove the vinyl, but I like to see how it looks, so I throw caution to the wind and remove the vinyl right after I am done painting. If you are a crafting daredevil also, just be careful not to smudge the wet paint on your fabric. So far, I haven’t had any mishaps with doing things this way. Admire!
To cure your paint, follow the paint manufacturer’s directions. Most of the time, a good air dry is plenty, but if you are stenciling clothing that will be repeatedly washed you will want to do it the right way.
That’s all there is to it! I can usually do a stenciling project in about a half hour, start to finish, if my artwork is ready. In my opinion, there’s no better way to put a personal touch on a project.