Stenciling Fabric

Here are some helpful hints for stenciling fabrics. For even more information regarding working on textiles, see pages 91-98 of our book, Stenciling the Arts & Crafts Home.

• Choose a material with a fairly tight weave and without a nubby or heavy texture for best results ~ linen works well! If you are using the Paintstik® medium, make sure your fabric is washable and not dry clean only.

• Spray a piece of cardboard or poster board with the repositional stencil adhesive and allow it to dry. Lay the material to be stenciled on top, smoothing out wrinkles. Spray the back of the stencil plate with adhesive and allow to dry, then position the stencil on top of the fabric. The fabric is now “sandwiched” between the rigid cardboard backing and the stencil plate. This should eliminate shifting and make your stenciling easier. You may also try taping the fabric to a flat surface, but beware of paint bleeding through on thin materials. If you find this happening, you may have to forgo the adhesive cardboard option and place paper under your fabric, changing it when necessary to keep paint from transferring to the back of your material.

• Use Shiva Paintstiks® for stenciling fabrics. They dry to a flexible permanent finish and are washable when heat set which is a simple technique you do with an iron.
To heat set: Let your paint cure at least 4 or 5 days, the longer you wait the more permanent it will be. Set your iron to the temperature recommended for the fabric you used. Place waxed paper over the design and iron for about 10 seconds, on both sides to set the paint (if you are having to use high heat, such as for linen, skip the wax paper and use a pressing cloth of some sort. Launder in cold water, using a mild soap and a low dryer setting. Dry cleaning is not recommended as the solvents used in the process can dissolve the paint.

• After becoming familiar with your stencil on paper, practice on a scrap of the same fabric to become familiar with how the paints and application process differs before heading off to your final project. If you have purchased pre-made curtains or runners, take a sample to your local fabric store and have them give you a 1/4 yard of a similar fabric to practice on.

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