First, you need to find an image or create your own image that you want to turn into a stencil. My youngest son just loves trains - Thomas the Train, diesel trains, electric trains, steam trains, any type of train, really, so I tried my hand at drawing a train.
Now, I do not claim any kind of great artistic skill when it comes to drawing, but I figured I could pull something off if I stuck to shapes, which I am not too terrible at drawing.
This is what I came up with.
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But first let's get the materials together.
- Freezer paper
- Exacto knife
- Self healing cutting mat
- Images to cut out
- Fabric paint (I use Tulip brand both painted on with a brush and spray paint)
- Iron (no steam)
- T-shirt or other fabric
Cut out your stencil. I am able to place 2 sheets of freezer paper under my image on top of my cutting map and still get 2 really good positive image stencils and 2 negative image stencils.
Find your t-shirt or other fabric. I had a sleep outfit with a plain top (stripes don't count) and a clearance t-shirt that I had bought just for this type of project.
Place your stencil. Here are the 2 positive images of my train that I cut out. I was very pleased that the caboose fit perfectly on that little pocket on the t-shirt and that the train fit just right within the stripes of the sleep shirt.
Iron on your stencil. The waxy side needs to be face down so that it can seal with the fabric. Make sure that the steam is OFF and to press down hard. It is important to make sure that the stencil bonds well with fabric to prevent the paint from bleeding beyond the edges of your stencil.
If you are wondering where the windows are, they are coming. I always place the main stencil on my fabric first and iron it down. THEN, I add the small bits - as I like to think of them. You can add them all at once or one at a time - whatever makes you most comfortable. Depending on how the small bits are behaving themselves, I use both methods.
Here are my train windows.
Now that the stencil is firmly affixed to fabric, you need to put some kind of protective material underneath the fabric you intend to stencil. A paper bag will do or a t-shirt form. I have some rolled paper from a old painting project that I use. I just fold it to the necessary size.
If you are painting on a t-shirt, you need to put it inside the t-shirt to protect the back of the shirt from the paint bleeding through.
Now that you are protecting yourself from unwanted paint transfer, let's paint.
I usually place my paint in a paper plate or disposable bowl. Recently, I have been using my old detergent scoops instead of just pitching.
You don't just have to settle for the color in the bottle either. Get adventurous and mix some other colors. The blue is a mix (a little white and glitter), and the red is purely from the bottle.
If you want to add another coat of color, wait for the first to dry.
When the paint has dried completely, remove the stencil carefully. You don't want to take some of the paint with you after all that work.
Use a crumby towel or a cast off t-shirt and place it over your new paint job and place a hot iron on it. This is supposed to set the paint.
Wait the appropriate time listed on your chosen fabric paint (Tulip's - 72 hours) before washing your new piece of art inside out.
Step back and enjoy your work.
That's my boy!
Let me know if you have questions. I won't claim to be an expert, but I have made quite a few t-shirts. :)
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