Wednesday, 15 June 2016

To all the stencils I've loved before...

Apologies for the blog silence. I threw myself completely into the pattern tracing, muslin making and construction of my dress and coat for the Dressmaker's Do.

I'm not quite done with all of that, but since I'd just made another freezer paper stencilled t-shirt for P's birthday (he's come down with horrible gastro and isn't up for modelling just yet) I thought I'd round up all my stencilled projects and share some tips.

Instagram image of WIP
 I won't write a how-to of basic freezer paper stencilling, 'cause that's been done many times already (see here and here for good basic ones - or, if you have the Oliver + S Sandbox pattern then you have a written pattern with instructions for stencilling) but rather, I'll show what I've done and give my tips and tricks. All discovered the hard way of course, 'cause I never think to research how to do something first!

Where to get freezer paper in Australia is often the first stumbling block. At the beginning I had bought one to two metre cuts from a roll at a quilting shop. That's not the cheapest way to buy it obviously. I now have a full roll, which I think came from Spotlight, but I seem to recall having to ask for it. It was "under the counter" if I recall correctly (?!)


If you live in a major city there might be a US expat shop like this one (USA foods), and that's by far the cheapest way to buy the freezer paper. Unless of course you are tempted to load your shopping cart with weird USA only confectionery! Some other online craft shop options are here and here

Basic stencils are as simple as trace or draw, cut, iron then paint. I usually take over the knife duty, but the kids can certainly do the painting. This "favourite footy team" t-shirt for kindy was done in an afternoon by P when he was five.


It's pretty easy to use freezer paper stencilling for big lettering. Just be sure to keep the insides of letters like "a and o"


More detailed lettering can be done with freezer paper if you have a steady hand and patience with the scalpel blade. For smaller lettering, and other complicated designs, I'd suggest ironing on the main stencil, then adding back in all the elements that have been cut out in order to get the positioning correct. Then peel off only the areas you want to paint. Here's a great Instagram video series of exactly that process (@craftroom101)


Of course, if you have one of those Silhouette stencil cutting machines you can cut a perfect lettering stencil in seconds from a digital file. But to me, that feels a bit like cheating. I like the relaxing approach of taking time to boil the kettle, put on the radio and painstakingly cut a stencil.

I've said it before, but anything I can do with a scalpel in hand that can not possibly result in death is relaxing! :) 

The picture above is my Slaughterhouse 5 t-shirt from a few years ago that amused me no end, and which I would almost make over again. Perhaps when he's older I can get a Montana Wildhack reference in there and get away with it. ;)

 

The Space Shutle above was done with multiple layers. Once the metallic white paint was dry, parts of the stencil were reapplied and the silver grey applied over the top. That one used a Jones Tones paint which has a slightly 3D effect and is not so easy to handle and use in detailed work.

My preferred paint is Setacolour Opaque. They mix together really well allowing me to get exactly the shade I want with only half a dozen pots of paint in the stash.

By not mixing the paints too well, you can get a nice blotchy, textured colour. That's what the kids did when they painted their Vermicious Knid dress/t-shirt.
 

 T-shirt transfer lettering (above) looks dreadful compared to the freezer paper stencil lettering  (below). It's worth taking the time to cut a stencil.
 

Blotchy, poorly mixed paint is perfect for monsters! Flipper's Father's Day t-shirt monsters were painted by the kids and then I added the hairy details freehand.

 

Single colour stencils that are more detailed to cut, but then super quick to paint can look awesome.

Here's where you need a steady hand and a good knife. I'll confess the one I bought at Spotlight is cheap and has a "looseness" that bugs me. I actually think I'd do better with a small scalpel handle from the vet clinic and a number 11 blade. If you can't pilfer scalpels from your work, look for a good quality craft knife. Cheap ones are kind of rubbish and little slips can ruin a stencil.



While a Vermicious Knid outline, or a dead bird are fairly easy to draw freehand, these more complex stencils are best traced. If you ever get to do craft during the day then use a sunny window to tape up your picture and freezer paper and get tracing.

If you're an after-darker like me then you need some kind of light box. You can buy expensive light boxes from art stores, or (again) raid your local vet clinic for one ('cause we've all gone digital and are throwing them out), or make use of your mid century furniture: A glass topped coffee table (sixties styling optional) is perfect. Put a torch or lamp underneath and you've got an enormous lightbox.
The Darth Vader stencil image, and my recent Pokemon Talonflame picture both come from DeviantArt which is a great source for images. You can purchase images, but I guess if you're using them for personal use and not for mass production and resale, a little right click and save is probably forgivable.

Searching for images will often give you almost what you want but not quite. I found the perfect drum kit silhouette for my nephew's Christmas present t-shirt, but wanted some Beatles-esque lettering. I found a font through My Fonts  that looked pretty good and then used Paint.net to overlay the two images.
 
 

Once cut and ironed down, this all black stencil took barely two minutes to paint. Don't forget to iron the dry paint (with a pressing cloth or baking paper sheet) for a solid 5 minutes to set the paint and make it washable
 


The stencils that I've been enjoying making recently use the freezer paper just to give the shape and blocks of colour. Then, the line detail is added freehand after the main paint has dried. If you're nervous about painting fine line detail, then you could heat set the paint and then use a fabric marker to draw the detail lines instead.
 

This is where the Setacolour paints are worth the pricetag. They're opaque and thick enough without being gloopy or lumpy. I'm yet to use them, but I love the look of the Setacolour translucent paint to give watercolour lines as in the t-shirt here




I found a few other pictures of clothes I've made for the kids that have been painted freehand, or stamped, but I thought I'd keep this to a stencil round-up. In looking at all the pictures I'm aware that my painting style is very much a tightly controlled copyist :), but I do love the idea of watering down the paints one day and making some Nani-Iro-esque fabric. Here's a great post from You and Mie about letting go and letting the kids do the fabric painting.

But for these type of stencils there's really nothing more to it than some patience, precision and practice. Final tip: If you paint BEFORE you sew, then you can always chuck out the t-shirt front panel and start over.

Now, I need to get back to coat making and pretending to manage the household...

16 comments:

  1. Wow your stencil work is truly amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thanks Jing. I really enjoying creating things I know the kids will love. Sensible clothes never go down as well as a painted t-shirt!

      Delete
  2. Ok... I didn't realise you had created that many stencils. Wow, no wonder you are quite the expert!! Really impressive!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Maaike, I'd been wanting to put them all together in one place for my own reference!

      Delete
  3. Thanks for all the tips - but I still don't reckon I could cut and paint stencils half as well as you do!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, but I bet you'll surprise yourself with how good a simple silhouette looks. Especially when it's something like a black and white cat! ;)

      Delete
  4. I think these are terrific. Looks like a great deal of persistence as well as infinite patience is needed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! It's certainly true that it slows things down, but that's nice for a change.

      Delete
  5. You do such a good job of these. I have dabbled (or rather the Twins did) but very crappy compared to yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, if Hugo becomes a surgeon you'll have a good stencil cutter in the family! :)

      Delete
  6. Amazing stencils and can't wait to see what you have done for P's birthday this year.

    Hope you had a fantastic night!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh we did Sharon, it was great. You must come along next time!
      The new t-shirt is already the favourite so it's in constant wash/wear rotation already.

      Delete
  7. Man, you have a lot of patience. Looks amazing, all of them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only for unnecessary tasks like this. Give me a whingey kid and my patience is much shorter! :)

      Delete
  8. Brilliant - these are so cool. Thanks for all the tips, I'm going to give this a try once I've found all the materials!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh good! Hope you enjoy it Jess. It's kind of addictive.... :)

      Delete

I get a real kick out of knowing you've visited the blog and love to read comments. Thanks.