Be Your Own Fabric Designer!
of the things I love about sewing is that it allows you to create
customized projects. When you choose your own fabric and notions and are
able to sew items that specifically fit your measurements or your
space, you can create personalized things that you'd never be able to
buy in a store.
Samples of stenciled designs from Print, Design, Compose.
addition to choosing great fabric and modifying patterns to suit your
needs, another way to really make a garment or home décor project unique
is with surface design. Modifying store-bought fabric can really spice
up a project, and it opens up a whole new world of customization
possibilities. While many stitchers are familiar with embellishment
methods such as handstitching and appliqué, we've been trying to dive a
bit deeper in recent newsletters and explore more direct methods of
surface design. Today we're going to explore a really simple technique:
love freezer-paper stencils because they're low-tech, incredibly easy,
and don't take many tools (you might have everything you need in your
house already!). If you've thought about experimenting with surface
design but are a bit intimidated by dyeing or other more advanced
techniqes, freezer-paper stencils are a perfect first step. I've turned
to the Quilting Arts Workshop video called Print, Design, Compose: From Surface Design to Fabric Art with Lynn Krawczyk
for step-by-step instructions and screen shots. I love these videos
because it's so easy to watch and follow along, so grab some fabric, get
your mental gears turning on some stencil design ideas, and jump in!
- Freezer paper (it's different than wax paper!)
- Cardstock or posterboard at least as large as the design you'd like to print
- Permanent marker for drawing your design
- X-Acto knife or small scissors
- Fabric paint, screen-printing ink, or other medium to print your design
- Paintbrush or foam brush
Trace or freehand draw a design onto your freezer paper and cut out.
Use an iron to adhere your stencil to the fabric.
Brush on paint (be delicate around the edges!).
Peel away the freezer paper and you're done!
1. Draw your design
your design onto the paper or cardstock. Freezer-paper stencils aren't
re-usable, so if you'd like to use this design more than once, it's best
to draw it on cardstock and then trace it onto your freezer paper each
time. If you only want to print this design one time, you can omit the
cardstock and draw straight onto the back of your freezer paper. (If
you're feeling improvisational, you can skip this step and move straight
2. Transfer and cut out your design
your freezer paper plastic-coated side down over the cardstock. Trace
your design onto the freezer paper with the pemanent marker, then cut it
out. One easy way to cut out your design is to tape your freezer paper
to a self-healing mat and cut with a sharp X-Acto knife. If you're using
an X-Acto knife, keep a bit of pressure on the freezer paper as you cut
to keep pieces from tearing. Or, use sharp scissors to cut out your
3. Press your design
your stencil plastic-coated side down on top of your fabric. Using an
iron set to high heat, lightly press the stencil to the fabric. The
plastic coating on the freezer paper will create a temporary bond and
stick the stencil to your fabric. Be sure to lift your iron and move it
to a new spot rather than sliding it back and forth so you don't tear
a brush to apply your fabric paint or screen-printing ink to the
stencil. Use a delicate vertical motion around the edges of your cut-out
shapes to keep paint from creeping in under the edges. Experiment with
color - use one color for the whole stencil, make each cut-out shape a
different color, or blend many colors to achieve a gradient effect!
the paint is dry, peel your stencil away from your fabric. Check your
paint to see if it requires heat setting. If so, heat-set your fabric
before use. Done!
With an easy technique like this, there's no reason you can't create your own custom fabric! Check out Print, Design, Compose
to watch freezer-paper stenciling unfold step by step. You'll also
learn lots more great techniques such as soy-wax batik and Thermofax