Fabric Painting 101: Not So Simple Stencils

Today we’ll do a more complicated two-color stencil.  You will need freezer paper, a Pigma pen, fabric, paint, a Styrofoam plate and a stencil brush.


First, trace your design onto freezer paper with a Pigma pen.  I use Pigma pen so my tracing lines don’t bleed onto my fabric.  I extended the lines beyond the edge of the stencil to use as registration marks.  I also scribbled on the stripes that I will paint black so I wouldn’t get confused later.  This stencil came from Simple Stenciling, Dramatic Quilts by Pamela Stallebrass.

      Complex stencil 


Cut out the wings using small, sharp scissors.


Adhere the stencil to your fabric with a hot, dry iron.  To center the stencil, mark the vertical and horizontal midpoints.  Fold the fabric in half vertically and horizontally.  Match the fold lines to the stencil marks.  Your fabric should be a light color, but it doesn’t have to be white.


Either pin or tape the fabric down to foamcore board, cardboard, etc.


Using a stencil brush, pounce the paint onto the fabric.  The key to crisp stencil lines is a well-adhered stencil, dry fabric and a dry brush with just a little paint.  I tap my brush out on a Styrofoam plate to minimize the amount of paint on the brush.  I painted the whole wing area the lighter color.  You can vary the paint coverage to add interest.

      complex stencil #2


You can also use a gentle brushing motion for a different look.  A piece of kitchen sponge will work if you don’t have a stencil brush.


Let the paint dry.  A few seconds with the hairdryer will dry the paint if you’re in a hurry. Do not remove your stencil.  I was able to cut out the body section with the stencil adhered to the fabric.


Next cut the wing sections apart, and carefully replace the pieces into the stencil using your registration marks.  Adhere with a hot, dry iron.  The exposed section will all be painted the darker color.  The pieces you replaced will stay the lighter color.


Paint the second (darker) color.

      complex stencil #3 


Once the paint is dry, remove the stencil.

      complex stencil #4 


In hindsight, I would have liked a circular pattern in the areas with less paint coverage better.  It’s more butterfly-like.


Notice too that the pattern on the background fabric shows through the paint.  I like the added texture here, but it may not always add to the design.


You can adapt this technique to use with any more complicated stencil.  Just remember to cut out the different stencil sections carefully so you can replace them when you want to add a different color.

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