If you are working on one item or few pieces of apparel, stenciling is a good way of making a customized print on fabric. It is a practical way of transferring design idea on fabric without the use of expensive screen-printing equipment, particularly if it only requires one or two color applications. Of course in bigger production, screen-printing is the preferred and practical method.
PREPARE YOUR STENCIL. You can create your own stencil from acetate. You can draw your own design or photocopy a copyright-free design, transfer and cut your very own stencil. You can also find a lot of interesting stencils in your favorite craft stores. Using your creativity, you can use one stencil, combine or mix and match them.
PREPARE YOUR FABRIC. Fabric preparation requires choosing your fabric to stencil with care. Fabric that is treated with stain resistant finish, water-repellant finish, etc. will not work. Pre-washing fabric is a good idea as it keeps the surface free from anything that will prevent the paint from adhering.
PREAPARE YOUR PAINT & BRUSH. When working on apparel projects - I will only recommend non-toxic water-based fabric or textile paint. Period. Buy stencil brush – they are easily available in any craft stores.
If you are ready to transfer design, then make sure you have a masking tape handy to hold the stencil down to the fabric. In stenciling, paint must be applied in straight up and down, gentle pounding motion and never a stroking motion. This will prevent your textile paint from spreading under the edges of your stencil. Evenly cover your brush with paint without flooding it. It will give you a smoother finish that is different from a hand-painted design.
If you are using two or more color, have a separate brush ready and do it all at the same before you lift the stencil. Remember that it is difficult to put the stencil back and match the exact spot you are previously working on. Remove the masking tape only when you are all done and finish.
Let the fabric paint dry thoroughly. I recommend 24 hours. Then iron at the back to heat set the fabric paint.
Here's some picture to guide you. I used a silver glitter paint on black cotton knit fabric.
Position your stencil.
Use up and down, gentle pounding motion.
Gentlly remove the stencil.
The finished product.
Applied in garment. In my Little Black Dress class, one of my student (5th from L) used this method in making her LBD interesting. Appling it on the hemline and as accent on the neckline.
My dear, stenciling is an easy way to transfer design and a sure way to make your apparel interesting!