My first tutorial and it's a doozy. Please be aware that this method is not for the faint of heart, but the rewards are well worth it!
I decided that my husband deserved something from me and the baby for Father's Day (which is Sunday, YIKES!). From me, he is getting new fish for our fish tank, so what better gift that a sweet Finding Nemo onesie from our little guppy. After flexing my google-fu skills, I found a great image for the actual screen printing.
- Exacto Knife or sharp box cutter
- Cardboard or a self-healing cutting mat
- Freezer Paper (NOT wax paper or parchment paper!)
- Inkjet Printer
- Acrylic Paint (I used FolkArt paint.)
- Fabric Medium (I used Martha Stewart crafts.)
- Onesies, T-shirts, Totes, etc. (Whatever you want to stencil on!)
- Blow Dryer (optional)
- Sponge brushes and a paint palette (Or a paper plate. c:)
- Computer photo editing program (I used Adobe CS5, but you could use another free program like Picasa.)
So to start with, you need to figure out two important things - what you are going to stencil and what you are going to stencil on. I chose a onesie, but this would work for any other kind of fabric, canvas, whatever. After you've picked what you want to do, find an image of what you'd like and save it to your computer. Open this up with your editing program - I used Photoshop CS5 - and turn your image from a color image into a black and white image. Now you can either print it as is or use your mouse/graphics tablet to make the basic shapes of your design. I suggest if you print the image, you print as many copies as you want colors for your image. If you are doing it all digitally, make each color layer a different layer on the image.
Yep, I forgot to take a picture immediately...
Now you trace until you have the design you are looking for. For my Nemo and Marlin design, I used two layers - one for the orange and one for the black. I didn't need to do a white layer as the fabric was white to start with. If you are interested, you can print your designs directly on your freezer paper by cutting it into a 8.5 x 11 inch rectangle and printing on the DULL SIDE. Printing on the shiny side will surely result in a big mess... If you want to go the other route, go ahead and print your designs on regular paper. Don't worry, the freezer paper is fairly transparent, you can trace your design on OR just tape your freezer paper to the design and cut directly on it.
Now you'll need your exacto knife or equivalent. I have done stenciling with knifes, razor blades, box cutters, and more. You basically just need something sharp with a pointed blade. Anyway, you should cut out your design now! Be sure to hold on to those small pieces for eyes, centers of letters, etc. You'll want those for the ironing and stenciling steps.
After you get your design cut out, get your iron hot and prepare your fabric surface for stenciling. At this point, I'd recommend putting a layer of cardboard (which is what I did) or something else between your layers of fabric. Not all paints will bleed through, but some heavily pigmented colors might.
Once you get your iron ready, go ahead and press your design! Be sure that the shiny wax side is DOWN on the fabric! Also don't forget the little pieces you set aside earlier. I pressed my design for about 1-2 minutes because I had so many small nooks and crannies. You just want to get the paper nice and hot so the wax adheres to the fabric and creates a good seal on the edges.
Now the fun part! Mix your paint and fabric medium according to the directions on the bottle and get your sponge brush ready. Once you are ready, get a little paint on your brush and dab it on your design, paying attention to the edges on the interior and exterior. You may want to do more than one pass depending on the thickness of your paint.
Now you can blow dry your design. I let the hair dryer get it nice and dry, it makes it easier to peel off once it's dry.
Give it a minute or two to cool and GENTLY peel off your design! Make sure your paint is totally dry and give it another pass with your hot iron to set the paint permanently. Some fabric mediums say to let it set for 24 hours, but I have one very nosy cat who would love to ruin it as soon as I walked away...
Next, you should prepare your second layer of your design. For me, this was the little black stripes and whatnot for the clown fish coloring. I should have cut them both out at the same time, but I was lazy and preferred spending that time eating Pizza Rolls. You basically repeat the same steps as the first layer, which I think go much easier the second time.
Position your second layer on your fabric. It helps to have a guide or reference picture near by so that you get the positioning right... or you should free-ball it like me and just peek through the slits in the design to figure out where I wanted it.
Get your paint and medium ready and get to work! Once it is painted to your satisfaction, blow it dry and peel back the design. At this time, I used a tiny detail paintbrush to paint a few details here and there, but you may not need (or want) to do this. Once the design is done, set it with your hot iron. Sit back and enjoy the awesome thing you just created! I know my design doesn't look exactly like Nemo and Marlin from Finding Nemo, but they are close enough for me!
I would recommend letting your finished piece sit overnight to let the paint and everything dry completely BEFORE washing it. When washing, follow the directions on your fabric medium bottle, which will probably say to wash inside out with cold water and tumble dry low.
I hope you liked my first tutorial and that I didn't miss some major step!
If you like this tutorial, free feel to comment or put it on Pinterest!
*Finding Nemo is copyright of Disney.*