I am as vulnerable as the next fiber artist to the siren call of new surface design tools. Each time a designer comes out with a new line of stencils, for example, I’m sure I absolutely have to have them.
But many tools like stamps, stencils, and screens, are relatively easy to make yourself. Handmade tools often have the benefit of being less expensive, copyright-free, and personal to you and your art.
Surface-design expert Jane Dunnewold prefers to make her own tools for painting on fabric whenever possible.
This technique for making stencils using fusible interfacing and nylon net is adapted from her best-selling book Art Cloth: A Guide to Surface Design for Fabric–considered by many to be the quintessential book on fabric painting and other surface-design techniques.
Make Your Own Stencil from Fusible Interfacing
By Jane Dunnewold
- Cutting mat and craft knife
- Fusible interfacing (about the weight of copy paper, large enough for your design and a generous border)
- Pencil and permanent marker
- Nylon net or tulle (as large as your interfacing pieces)
- Plastic sheet to protect your surface
- Latex house paint, any color and paintbrush or roller
- Steam iron and board
- Parchment paper or non-stick pressing sheet
1. Cut 2 pieces of fusible interfacing the same size. Position the pieces with the fusible sides together. Do not iron yet.
2. Draw a 1″ (2.5 cm) border around the perimeter of the interfacing to remind yourself to stay inside the line.
3. Draw a design on the interfacing or trace on from another source. Use the craft knife to cut out the design through both layers at once.
4. Sandwich your tulle or net between the layers of fusible, overhanging a bit on one side (so you hang it while drying). Add free-floating details (such as the wing on the bird pictured), making sure to match up both pieces of the fusible above and below the net.
5. Cover the sandwich with parchment or a non-stick pressing sheet and fuse the layers together using the manufacturer’s instructions. Starting in the center and work out toward the edges.
6. Cover your worktable with plastic and lay the fused interfacing on it. Coat both sides of the interfacing sandwich with paint. If the paint fills any of the holes in the tulle, gently wipe it off with a clean brush or cotton swab. Make sure the interfacing is covered completely (hold up to the light to check for pinholes), and then hang to dry.
7. Once dry, trim the stencil to remove the excess net and square it up. Press the stencil front and back to set the paint. You can store dry interfacing stencils upright in a file folder to keep them clean and flat.
Interfacing stencils are washable after you heat-set the latex paint application. After using the stencil for painting fabric, rinse it in cool water and hang to dry. If it warps, use a steam iron to flatten it.
From fabric stamping, stenciling, and screen printing by hand to generating designs on the scanner and printing fabric digitally, Jane is constantly thinking up new ways to create interesting textiles and sharing her techniques with others. Start creating your own unique fabric designs with Jane’s guiding hand when you download her eBook Art Cloth: A Guide to Surface Design for Fabric.
P.S. Do you make your own stencils and stamps, or do you prefer to buy them? Leave your answer below.