Once you master how to stencil on fabric, there are endless DIY home decor projects that can be done with this technique.
I personally like the look of painted designs rather than iron on for fabric. You can do virtually any design you would otherwise do with HTV but it tends to last longer in the wash.
Paint for stenciling is also a lot cheaper HTV.
I made this fun “Home” and “Love” design with antlers to demonstration how I like to stencil on Fabric.
These Home and Love fabric painting stencils are FREE. They are available in my resource library.
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Making fabric painting stencils online
There are many programs to use to make stencils online. I personally use a Cricut. If you are interested in getting a cutting machine, I wrote some recommendations for which Cricut models are most suitable for beginners.
Most cutting machines use a vector based image format called SVG. For more details on how to make SVG stencil files for the Cricut, I have detailed step by step processes for making these templates in this article here.
There are also many ways to make SVG files online including several free options. Check out my article 7 Ways to Make SVG Files for more details on this topic.
How to stick stencil to fabric
Once you’ve made a design for the stencil, you will need to adhere it to the fabric temporarily to keep it in place while you are painting.
While you can just use masking tape to hold reusable stencils in place, I would highly recommend making a disposable stencil that is already sticky on one side like contact paper, removable vinyl or transfer paper.
This is most important to minimize bleeding of the paint around the edges of the cutout portion of the design.
What kind of paint for stenciling on fabric
While there are many paints that work on fabric, I prefer fabric paints with a little texture.
3D fabric paints tend to be a little more viscous and therefore bleed less around the edges of the cutout. They are also super easy to use.
I like this Castle Art Supplies 3D Fabric Paint Set from Amazon. It has an assortment of colors and is high reviews.
I also use the 3D Fabric Paint by Imagin8 from Michaels.
How to stencil on fabric without bleeding
The key to making sure your design does not bleed when painting with stencils is to not let too much paint gather around the edges.
This is easily done with a sponge or sponge brush. I like this sponge brush set from Amazon because there is an assortment of sizes appropriate for most fabric painting projects. I also use cut up pieces of old sponges.
I like putting the paint on the sponge, then smearing it around, then stamping it on the cutout. This seems to minimize smearing.
How to stencil letters on fabric
Letters are particularly tricky to stencil because of the sharp corners and thin lines.
Again, I like to do a stamping motion rather than a paint stroke. This way, the paint fills the area and makes sharp edges but doesn’t build underneath the edge of the cutout.
Should I peel the stencil while the paint is wet or dry?
I would recommend peeling while it is dry to the touch. When it is too wet, you risk smearing. For stretchy base materials, the wet paint then dries in a warped way.
You risk paint dollops collecting and ripping in chunks if you peel it off too dry.