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Design Inspiration: The Art of Fabric Stenciling

Earlier this year, I set the goal to experiment and practice different design techniques with different mediums.  So far, I've experimented with watercolor and watercolor gelatos.  Now, I am focusing on art of fabric stenciling!

Stenciling is an easy way to create repeating motifs on fabric. You can use this technique to decorate pillows, tote bags, t-shirts and other clothing.

The stencils I used for my design project are from Stencil Revolution, a small family owned business based in Spring Hill, Florida.

Stencils from Stencil Revolution


They offer a variety of decorative designs available in different sizes, such as tile stencils, mandala stencils, nature stencils and many more.

It’s been a fun month of experimenting! Here are some examples of what I created and my step-by-step approach that will guide you on how to create your own fabric stenciled projects!

Materials you will need:

  • Fabric - it is best to use a natural fabric such as cotton or raw silk
  • Stencils (see for a variety of designs)
  • Jacquard Textile Paint
  • Foam stencil sponge (spouncer)
  • Paint tray
  • Eyedropper
  • Paintbrush

**Before you begin, remember to keep a piece of cardstock or cardboard under your fabric as the textile paint will seep through to the other side. This is especially important if you are stenciling on a pillow case, t-shirt, tote bag or other item with a front and back.**

1. Tape stencil in place with two small pieces of tape on both edges or corners.  I use scotch tape, but you can also washi tape or masking tape. You just need enough tape to hold the stencil in place while you apply the paint.

 Fabric stenciling project

2. Mark the edge of the stencil so you know where to begin the next stenciled motif.

3. Use  the eyedropper, and retrieve enough textile paint to fill your paint tray.

4. Dip the stencil sponge in the paint and saturate it with color.  Use a paintbrush to spread the paint and remove excess color. The paint should be evenly spread on the stencil sponge.

Use Jacquard textile paints for fabric stenciling projects |

5. Take the stencil sponge and carefully dab over the stencil - don’t oversaturate with paint as you don’t want the color to seep underneath the stencil.  As the sponge becomes dry, before dipping it into paint tray to get more color, turn the sponge on its side. It may seem like there is not enough paint, but actually the sponge is quite saturated with color. You can also pick up the excess color that you see on the stencil itself.  Be careful when you get to the side of the stencil not to get paint on that area of the fabric.

Fabric stenciling using a spouncer |

Printingmaking using a stencil |

6. When finished applying the paint, carefully lift up the stencil

Fabric stencil project |

Fabric Stencil example

7. If you are planning to repeat the design, let the first stenciled area dry before you move on with the next.

8. Textile paints are set with heat.   Set your iron to a medium heat setting and iron on the reverse side of the stenciled design. Make sure the heat is evenly spread. Iron for about 1-2 minutes.

9. I find that Clorax wipes work well to clean the stencil. You may need several wipes to get all the paint off. You can also use a paper towel dipped in rubbing alcohol. Of course soap and water work as well, though this process may take a bit longer.   

Cleaning up your fabric stenciled project |

To clean the stencil sponge, paintbrush, paint tray and eyedropper, I suggest filling a small container with water and first soaking them for a 10-15 minutes, then clean under running water in your bathroom sink. You can also add the stencils to this container of water and let it soak while the paint washes off. The eyedropper can be cleaned by filling and releasing it with clean water multiple times until it runs clear and the paint is completely removed.


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