How To Create Prints with Stencils, a Spray Bottle, and Paint

comments (14) July 29th, 2009     

Pin It

CalPatch cal patch, contributor
Love it! 59 users recommend
This is a quick, easy project for all ages!
This is a quick, easy project for all ages!

This is a quick, easy project for all ages!

I love to make my own prints. You may not realize how many options there are for printing textiles at home; silkscreening and stamping are two good methods, but stenciling is probably the easiest of them all. This is a simple and economical project the whole family can enjoy, and is best done outdoors. Anything flat with a cut-out pattern can be used as a stencil, or you can cut your own. Take a look around your home (don't forget the garage) to see what you can come up with. Experiment! Lace, pegboard, fencing, trivets, loose knits, or screens could all be stencils. Objects can also work: leaves, jewelry, yarn, flowers, or paper clips could make interesting patterns. Just don't use anything precious that might not recover from being drenched in paint!

You can use spray stenciling to print on any flat textile surface. It's a fantastic way to embellish T-shirts, tote bags, or anything made of fabric. You can even print fabric yardage for sewing. You can do what I do and stencil on the cut pieces before sewing them together, so you can control the placement. OK, let's get busy!

What You'll need:

  • An item to print on
  • A stencil (I used a crochet doily)
  • Some textile paint or ink
  • A spray bottle

That's it! Probably the only thing you don't already have is the paint; just look at your local craft supply store for one that works on fabric and can be permanently heat-set so the item will be washable.

You don't need many supplies to do stencil printing.

1. Dilute the paint. Mix the paint with water, so that it will be liquid enough to go through the spray nozzle. Two parts water to one part paint should work, but it'll depend on the consistency of the paint. Test the paint-water solution on a fabric scrap to make sure it is saturated enough.

2. Place the stencil. I centered my doily on the T-shirt, but don't be afraid to play around with asymmetric placement or scatter objects randomly. You might want to experiment on some scraps to see what you like best. Once you are happy with the placement, use your hands to flatten and smooth the stencil against the item, ensuring as much contact as possible.

Place the stencil on your garment as you like.

3. Spray! Begin spraying the diluted paint over the stencil. You want to make sure color gets between all the holes and over all the edges. Don't spray too heavily, or the paint will bleed into the covered areas.

Spray the paint evenly and thoroughly over the stencil.

Did you make this?
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
Post your project in the gallery
posted in: stencil, print, textile paint

Comments (14)

Rowan_Autumnhold writes: At the 2 to 1 ratio of water to paint, do you find that the paint/water mixture soaks through? I didn't risk it when I tried this project and I slid a piece of cardboard inside the shirt, to protect the fabric the back of the shirt and made sure not to soak the piece. After the paint dried I found a few little blotches of paint on the cardboard and was immediately glad I'd thought ahead.
Posted: 6:06 pm on July 29th
cazmc writes: Unbelievable!
Posted: 9:49 pm on December 8th
Chantal2628 writes: this looks cute and easy. I am thinking christmas snowflakes right now.....
Posted: 10:10 am on December 6th
FlipFlopFancy writes: This is AWESOME!! My 2.5year old will only wear tees right know so this is a great way for me to get different looks for a cheaper price. Thanks for sharing this.
Posted: 5:38 pm on December 1st
debx writes: I love this idea for stencils. The oil stain delema... Short time ago I had this oil stain on my shirt that went through the laundry, so I tried some Engine degreaser that I had nearby and thought why not. I was happy with the results. Spray it, rub it, and wash it.
Posted: 12:55 pm on November 19th
LaserStencils writes: We offer laser cut adhesive stencils that work really well for T-shirts. My daughters room made Homecoming shirts and they all got a sticky back stencil on their shirt.. it made it a bit easier for the kids.

We cut up foam and rubberbanded the corners together to make dobbers.. and taught them LESS is MORE...

They really turned out great!

Love the doily.. that is a great idea...
Posted: 5:02 pm on September 14th
SusanElizabeth writes: how cute! love the idea of spray painting designs. i know what my next project will be!
Posted: 5:08 am on August 19th
thread123 writes: I would also like to know the answer to the cardigan question. I ran into the same problem. I posted but no reply.
Posted: 7:55 am on August 7th
JenniferStern writes: Hey Cal...I love that idea!!! looks great!
Posted: 5:34 pm on August 6th
kandiodesigns writes: What a great idea, my daughters going to love this!
Posted: 11:50 am on August 6th
DebraC writes: Oh, I love this! Simple, with striking results. My head is spinning with ideas. Thanks for sharing :).
Posted: 10:46 pm on August 5th
VictoriaNorth writes: Hi sokkertenngrl,
Cal has posted a reply to your question on the ruffly cardigan post. Hope this helps.
Posted: 3:39 pm on August 5th
resalikescolors writes: I have a shirt that I got some oil stains on, this will be a great fix!
Posted: 12:37 pm on August 5th
sokkertenngrl writes: Hi! I actually have a question about the red ruffly cardigan from a t-shirt. I posted it in the comments box for that, but I believe you haven't seen it since it's so old, thus I'm commenting on the recent tutorial of yours. Plus, I don't think there's anyway I can message you.

Hope you can answer me here!

I tried it with a fitted t-shirt, with a slightly low neckline, but longer. Everything was fine, up until the pinning and gathering. It came out too short, so I sewed the 4th on, and it still was too short. Especially when it was gathered.
My question is, what is the normal length of one piece of ruffle strip? Also another question is, did you do two gathering basting lines or just one? I did one, and I gathered, and I sewed the ruffle, but the ruffle wasn't set, and I could still spread it.
Posted: 12:56 am on August 4th
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.