This is a tutorial on how to use contact paper as a stencil for more flimsy materials that need to be washed like canvas or fabric.
So for all of my readers who love to stencil, I just want to address the question of why contact paper?
Well, there are times when I need something sticky but not too sticky so I can move it around.
Plus, contact paper is cheaper and disposable.
Stencil vinyl vs contact paper
I find when I am stenciling on more flimsy materials like a canvas or fabric pillowcase, I need something that I can readjust and doesn’t get all tangled up like vinyl. I also need it to be sticky so that it stays in places and doesn’t cause too much paint bleeding.
I also find for bigger designs, I always get the vinyl stencil all tangled up.
Can you use contact paper as a stencil for paint projects?
Many people think contact paper cannot be used for paint projects because it soaks through.
Well, I have a really easy solution. Don’t apply so much paint that it soaks through.
I find contact paper works particularly well with fabric paint because it tends to be more viscous and stays on top of the contact paper.
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Materials for Contact Paper on Canvas/Fabric/Upholstery Projects
Contact paper – If you don’t have any leftover from lining your drawers, you can always order more online.
Exacto knife – You need something to cut out the design.
Fabric paint – I find the 3D paints work really well for this project. There is a lot to choose from on Amazon.
Sponge – Any kind of sponge works, I like using makeup sponges for smaller designs.
Stencil friendly design – If you are interested in the designs I used for this project, they are free and available in my resource library.
Cutting contact paper with the Cricut
If you are using a cutting machine, I would recommend using the vinyl setting and applying less pressure.
I find the vinyl setting tends to cut through the sheet which isn’t a big deal for this project because it is a stencil but on the lesser setting, you minimize cutting through.
How to use contact paper for stenciling with paint
I find just peeling back the main piece of the stencil as I am applying it to the fabric works best.
So peel a little bit, stick it on the pillowcase, then peel back the rest.
I then do some readjustments.
After I have arranged the main piece as I like it, I manually place the floating pieces. This is where not having a super intricate design with lots of floating pieces is helpful.
I then take the sponge, apply some paint and smear it around so it’s not one big glob.
Then I use a stamping motion to paint the cutouts. It helps to do some pre-stamps elsewhere to make sure the paint is not in one big glob on the sponge. This minimizes bleeding underneath the stencil.
(a quick side note: depending on your material, you may want to place a sheet of paper underneath/in between the layers so the paint doesn’t soak through)
It takes about a couple of hours for the paint to dry. Then I just peel off the stencil.
If you are worried about excess paint bleeding, I would consider smearing on a layer of Mod Podge for Fabric on the cutout areas before applying the paint.