Monday, June 16, 2008

Fabric Printing/Stenciling Tutorial

This may just be a long post, but hear me out! I have been thinking a lot about fabric printing as of late. I want to post a quick tutorial on stenciling using the freezer paper method.

Currently I'm making a couple of place mats for my messy puppies. They both eat wet food, and tend to get it ALL OVER. I decided that I needed to put their names on the mats, so I'm definitely using the freezer paper method of stenciling.

Here's how:

1. Gather your supplies. You'll need:

Freezer Paper
a nice pair of scissors
an xacto knife (or detail cutting method of your choice)
a computer & printer (or template of some sort)
Textile medium & Acrylic paint (or fabric paint of choice)
a cutting mat (or safe place to do your detail cutting)
an iron & ironing board
fabric of your choice

2. Find the appropriate template. Whatever you want to put on your fabric, you'll need something to stencil. Once you find the template, transfer it on to the paper side of an appropriate size sheet of freezer paper. Handy Tip: To get really clean stencils, cut your freezer paper into 8.5" by 11" sheets and feed them into your printer to print out the design. Make sure you know which side you're printing on (don't print on the shiny side). For my design, I'm using the names of my puppies.

3. Cut out the stencil. Make absolutely sure you're cutting smoothly and right at the edge of your design. Do not cut into any open parts of your letters. It's critical that you be very aware of what you're cutting at this point. We're making a stencil, so you're cutting out the meaty part of the design. I'm cutting out the actual letters. At this point, you may be able to save the innards and use them in a reversed out design later.

4. Iron your design onto your chosen bit of fabric. At this point, your iron should be pretty warm, but not too hot. (We're melting a very thin layer of wax, so it doesn't take much.) Also, be sure that you do NOT use the steam setting of your iron. This will make the wax not stick, and will make all of that detailed cutting useless. Also, iron on the main bit of paper first, then re-add all of the details such as the insides of "o"s and "a"s and yeah, you get the picture.

5. Now it's time for the fun part. It's time to paint! Mix your textile medium according to the specific directions, or get your fabric paint out. Make sure it's nice and full bodied, you do NOT want a runny paint. The fabric will soak it up, and yet again, ruin all that detailed cutting you just did. Ask me how I know... lol. To correctly paint onto your fabric, take a nice flat ended brush, and dab the paint in an up and down motion onto your fabric. Be careful not to saturate your brush too much or it'll get way too wet and might soak into the fabric as well. After you've completed painting, let the piece dry according to your paint/medium's directions. I usually get antsy and pull the paper off before it's time. Believe me, it's a gamble if you do. I actually got red paint on the other bits of fabric, but since it's for the doggies, I'm sort of okay with it. If you do, just be careful.

6. Here's the finished fabric!

My textile medium says wait 7 days. So it'll be about a week before you guys get to see what these become. I'm very excited to see this project through completion. I'm getting a little antsy to finish a sewing project with my new machine. I've got a couple in the works and a couple more in my head.

Another option for fabric printing that is VERY exciting (especially for a graphic designer such as myself) is the new site called Spoonflower. We've all said at one time, "If only I could just print my own fabric!". Well, now you can! I just got my invitation to the beta, and I'm putting together some designs in my head. You should too! (I recieved my invitation within the week.) Don't worry, if you don't know the ins and outs of patterns, Spoonflower offers tutorials for pattern making. Visit them at! :)

Edit: Here's a pic of some onesies that I stenciled with this method in Aug of 06. If you look at the top left one, it says "Frog Prince". The prince part is what happens when you use a very runny paint. It gets super messy and makes the piece almost useless. The bottom image was my fav of that batch. The little boy that was born around that time was going to be a leo, so this is the design I came up with.


Lucky said...

the onesies look great! i don't know if i would have the patience to cut out stencils! are the recent red ones that you did pillowcases? dontcha just love crafty stuff????

Brie said...

The red ones are going to be a placemat for my messy little doggies. :) I need to finish those up hehe...

Brie said...

The red ones are going to be a placemat for my messy little doggies. :) I need to finish those up hehe...