Today’s Design Diary is brought to you by Katrina from Offsquare.com. Katrina is a freelance writer and sewing enthusiast living in small town New Zealand, blogging her handmade wardrobe one make at a time.
Stencils are a great way to add personality to any garment. But the popular method of using freezer paper is tricky if you live somewhere that doesn’t sell any (NZ, I’m looking at you).
So I’ve found an alternative that will have you printing in no time at all, using a resource most of us have ample access to.
Surprisingly, it’s the humble, waxy wrapper that you find around a ream of photocopy paper. The waxy coating on the outside is perfect for lightly (and temporarily) fusing to fabric, meaning that paint is less likely to bleed through your crisp lines than a reusable stencil might.
WHICH BRAND IS BEST?
Not all wrappers are made equal and brands vary from country to country, so I highly recommend a test on scrap fabric first.
What to look for:
- When you rub your fingers over the outside of the wrapper, you’ll feel a glossy smoothness and the underside should just feel like standard paper. We will be ironing the printed side face down onto your fabric. If both sides feel waxy, try a different brand because you don’t want it sticking to your iron!
- Avoid working with any patches that still have glue on them (usually the seam down the middle and on the short edges). This won’t easily come off your fabric (or iron) if it’s pressed by mistake.
- If the wrapper doesn’t fuse to your fabric during the test (OfficeMax branded paper did this to me), try sourcing another brand.
- Lastly, make sure the print on the wrapper isn’t transferring onto your fabric. I’ve never encountered this problem, but have heard it can happen.
It sounds like a lot to remember, but most wrappers will actually work well right from the start. Once you find a wrapper that works, you’ll have an endless (and free) supply!
WHAT YOU NEED
- The waxy wrapper from a ream of photocopy paper. If you don’t have any, try asking at a local school, office or copy shop
- Fabric paint. I love using textile medium (available from most craft/sewing stores) to which I can add glitter or acrylic paint. It’s more versatile than buying specific colours, but be sure to buy a product designed for laundering
- Paint brush
- Tray for mixing paint (you can use lids from jars, takeaway containers etc)
- Craft knife
- Fabric to printing
CREATE YOUR STENCIL
Trace your stencil design onto the inside of your photocopy paper, then carefully cut it out using a craft knife. Trim the edges down if needed, to create room for the paint.
Heat your iron so that it’s moderately hot and dry (don’t use steam). You want the iron hot enough to soften the wax, but not ruin your fabric.
Before fusing your stencil, you will need to cut another square of photocopy wrapper a little larger than the stencil is. We will create a ‘sandwich’, with the fabric in the middle, to help keep the printed edges crisp.
Place the extra square on the wrong side of the fabric, beneath where the stencil will be going. Make sure the square is facing the fabric with waxy/printed side down and carefully press with your iron until it is firmly fixed in place.
Position your stencil, printed/waxy side down, on the right side of the fabric and press. Start very gently and slowly first, and as it fuses in place, you can press more firmly. You want to make sure all the edges and corners of your design are nicely fixed.
If you have lots of little pieces, you can press the main part first and then add the smaller pieces one by one, pressing them as you go. Just be sure to mark the plain side of each piece so that you know which side is which. You don’t want them fusing to your iron by mistake!
Once your stencil is in place, follow the directions on your fabric paint and paint over the stencil
It’s best to wait for it to dry before removing the stencil (oh, the patience).
PEEL IT AWAY
The best part! Gently peel away the stencil to reveal your final print. Most fabric paints will need heat setting, so be sure to follow the instructions on the bottle for this.
That’s it! Your print is done, so you can continue to sew up your Briar, if you haven’t already.
// Now it’s your turn! //
Haven’t bought the pattern yet? Get it in store now in printed or PDF form.