Back to Basics: Using fabric as stencils

If you’ve been with me for awhile, you know I love stencils. I love all kinds of stencils, but I’ve really been interested lately in “fabric stencils.” Since I’ve had a couple of you email me about these stencils that I’ve used in the past, I thought I’d tell you all about them in another one of my Back To Basics series.

Back To Basics

Here are tags and fabric completed with these stencils.


This all started several years ago when we were in Hawaii. I was looking for a fern stencil or something that I could use as a stencil to bring Hawaii home. We always stop at the local fabric store which has a great line of all types of Hawaiian fabrics.  She didn’t have what I was looking for, but she did have some lace with palm trees.  It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I bought a yard anyway.

Then I pretty much forgot about that quest, and as I was looking through shirts at the local thrift store I found a shirt with ferns. I absolutely loved it. However, I thought I would love to wear it, not to spray paint or dye through it!

These shirts are made of lace-like fabric, but you can also use cut velvet ones too. When I purchased that fern shirt I really thought I’d wear it. However, after washing it I hung it in my closet. I’d pull it out every once in a while, try it on, but just never felt that it was me. But I absolutely loved the pattern. Then it hit me – why not use it as a stencil. When I found out it worked, I have been on the look out for more shirts like these.

fabricstencilsHere is a new one I just found last week. It is cut velvet with a lovely design!


Here is my Back to Basics video on using fabric as stencils. You can see all of the finished pieces below.


Here are four of the fabric pieces. All four pieces started out as white fabric. I sprayed Dye-Na-Flow diluted 3 to 1 (water to dye-na-flow) through the fabric stencil. I removed the stencil, allowed the fabric to dry just a short time and then over sprayed with a light color. It was fun seeing the pattern pop out on the second spray.


I sprayed through the shirt onto blank tags using undiluted liquid watercolor. For the two- toned tags below, after removing the shirt, I dried it with the heat gun and then sprayed over with a lighter color. I found that when spraying over the pattern you just made, spray with a lighter color.  The other three tags were just sprayed once through the fabric.

fabricstenciledtags1On the tags below I sprayed them with watercolor before using the fabric stencils.  Then I sprayed through the shirt producing these pieces.

fabricstenciledtags2These shirts turned stencils have been so much fun to use and to also to search for when I’m thrift shopping. I used one of these fabric stencils in sun printing. You can see how the fabric turned out  HERE.

Spraying through lace fabric is not new and is also fun. However spraying through this fabric gives you much more of a selection of designs. It has opened up a whole new bunch of stencil patterns to explore on both fabric and paper.

Have you ever tried using fabric as stencils? If you do decide to try it, I’d love to see your results.