Easy Single Use Stencil

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Introduction: Easy Single Use Stencil

My kids love it when we make a bit of a fuss about their art. Nothing pleases them more than to have some of their work on a shirt or pants so they can parade them around and show everyone!

This instructable will show you a quick (ish!) easy way to make a unique and special-to-them gift. We will create a single use stencil from paper and use spray on fabric paint to make a plain t-shirt something special. You can also do this as gifts from kids to their Dad - Dads' love getting that kind of stuff all the time ;)

This technique can obviously be used for printing things other than kids art, but thats what I use it for :)

Note: You do not have to have lime green 80's mesh gloves for this to work...

Step 1: Materials

  • Kids picture you/they love
  • T-shirt/sweater/pants/whatever you want to print onto
  • Craft knife
  • Spray on fabric paint
  • Paint brush
  • A piece of cardboard to fit inside the t-shirt/item of clothing (not necessary if it is heavy fabric as the paint won't soak through into the back!)
  • Cutting board

Step 2: Prepare the Picture

Choose your picture. Remember this particular art is only one colour so a simple line drawing is better than one with lots of colors or details. It is also quite cool to add text if the picture has a title (see the 'Ramcat' t-shirt in step 5).

Scan or take a picture of the kids art you want to use and crop/resize it to suit the clothing it is going on to. The cute little pink dudes I chose were quite small, so I have chosen two and enlarged them.

Once they are the right size, print them off and use your craft knife to cut out the picture leaving a stencil for you to paint over. If you are doing a line drawing like my two little pink people, you need to cut the line out. I start on the inside, cutting the eyes and the mouth, then the inside of the line around the body. Carefully put the inside piece to one side and cut the outside of the line out. The little dancer was a bit more complicated, so I cut out the main shape, then cut the details into the two large pieces, leaving gaps where it would cut though (see the hair)

You don't need to keep any of the pieces with toner on them, just the blank pieces.

Step 3: Prepare Your Clothing

Find/cut a piece of card or heavy paper to go inside the t-shirt. This needs to hold the fabric steady but not stretch it. You can buy (and use) spray glues that you use to adhere the fabric to the card so it doesn't move at all, but you don't really need it for a one off print! The card will also stop any paint from leaking through to the back of the t-shirt.

Lay the t-shirt down on some paper (you dont want overspray on your tiles or carpet!) and make sure the fabric is flat.

You could iron the item before you start but it is something that I rarely do....

Step 4: Painting/Printing

Place your paper cut out on the t-shirt in the right place. Put any other cut out pieces inside, making sure you have a gap between them and the larger piece of paper. I weigh paper down with little stones to keep it close to the fabric and to stop it moving once you start painting :) If there are any exposed pieces of fabric (other than that you want to paint), make sure you cover them before spraying the paint on.

Read the instructions on your spray bottle. Very important :)

Following the instructions on the bottle (distance from fabric may change depending on the type) carefully spray directly down onto the stencil/fabric. As soon as you have adequate coverage, carefully remove the paper and the stencil to stop paint leaking off the paper and blotting you picture. Set it aside to dry, then follow the paint manufacturers instructions on washing/wearing!

If you are careful you can use the stencil a second time, but I have found the paper curls up if you let it dry out, so its best to blot as much paint off as you can and reuse it while it is still damp. You do need to be really careful as the second image never turns out as good as the first due to everything being damp already and you can get paint smudges everywhere!

If you have left gaps or there were lines you didn't want to cut (like the chin and the skirt of the dancer) you can spray a little paint into a container and paint the extra lines in. I did this to fill in the gaps I left of the hair too.

Step 5: Finishing

Your project is now done! If you want to take it one step further you can hand paint other colours on as I have done in the well worn Ramcat t shirt above, or use colours like Inktense Blocks like my daughter did for the dancer (note: don't let the kids splash water round when using inktense - it runs outside the lines!! They tell me you can use aloe vera gel instead of water to control it...)

The third example above is a pair of trousers my kid drew - pants work well for this project as they tend to be heavier cotton and there is less risk of paint spread or soaking though. You can decorate the back pockets too - these pants have her butterflies on the back :)

Have fun!

Step 6: Troubleshooting

I thought I'd add this to show what happens when things go wrong! This was the second time I used the stencil so I wasn't expecting it to be perfect but....

I didn't follow my own advice and weigh the paper down. The first spray of paint moved the face and created shadows around the 'hairline' and under the eyes.

I also overdid the paint and blotted the hair curl and a spot just to the right of it. Less paint is more, particularly when you are using a pump bottle not an aerosol as it can be a bit unpredictable!

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