- Step 1: Prepare to Stencil
Thoroughly wash and dry the T-shirt to remove any sizing.
T-shirt to the plastic covered tack board or corrugated cardboard—be
sure the T-shirt fits with a little room to spare. First, place a few layers
of newspaper or freezer wrap inside the T-shirt to prevent paint from going through
to the back of the shirt, smooth the T-shirt, then use straight pins to hold it in
- Step 2: Make Stencil
Select a stencil pattern and print it. The
Fish Stencils pattern includes a
one-part fish stencil and a two-part fish stencil. Print and cut out the
two-part stencil twice—once for the fish body and again for
the stripes, stencil in two contrasting colors. The
Seahorse Stencils pattern includes
seahorse stencils in two sizes. The
Smaller Stencils pattern has fish and seahorse
stencils reduced in size to better fit kid-size T-shirts.
Cut on the rectangle
around the stencil then cutout the gray areas of the stencil. When using stencil paper or vellum, trace the
pattern onto it. Or place the printed pattern behind the stencil
paper or vellum, and cut on a cutting mat or thick piece of
cardboard using a craft knife.
Tip: Computer paper works fine for stencils, but
may wrinkle when wet and can only be used a few times. Special
stencil paper or film is available at craft and graphic arts stores.
It cuts easily, doesn't tear, and lasts almost forever. Artist's
vellum also works well for stencils, and be purchased at craft and
art supply stores.
Tip: You can use a commercial stencil. They come
is many designs and sizes and can be purchased at craft stores.
Patterns are Adobe PDF files. The
Adobe Reader is available for free.
All of Aunt Annie's project patterns are designed to be printed on standard letter-size paper (8.5"x11" or A4).
When printing from Adobe Reader, you may need to select Auto-Rotate and Center or
Choose paper source by PDF page size to ensure the best fit.
- Step 3: Adhere Stencil to T-Shirt
Spray the back of the stencil with spray adhesive
(repositionable), following the manufacturer's directions.
Decide how many times you will stencil the design on the T-shirt
and where each design will be placed. You might stencil three fish
down one side or three across the chest or three along the shirt's
bottom. You can place the designs perfectly straight or rotate each
one in a slightly different direction—it's up to you.
Place the stencil on the T-shirt in the first position—work
from top to bottom and left to right (or right to left if you
are left handed). Tip: A strip of
masking tape applied to the T-shirt can be used as a guide in
placing the stencil.
- Step 4: Apply Paint
Squeeze fabric paint onto a plastic lid or plate. Dip a stencil
brush or dampened sponge into the paint. Remember that stenciling is
done with a nearly dry brush, so dab off any excess on newspaper or
a paper towel. Also, be sure to use a brush or sponge of an
appropriate size for the stencil.
Stipple the paint through the stencil cut-outs with an up and
down dabbing motion. Stop with one color or apply other colors
through the stencil, as desired. You might stencil the fish in white
and then accent the tail and fins with a bright color.
Carefully remove the stencil to avoid smudging the
paint edges. Apply the stencil again, to repeat the design on other
parts of the T-shirt. When you are completely done painting, cure or set
the paint according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Apply the paint very lightly to avoid making the T-shirt
- Use fabric paint (or liquid embroidery) straight from the
bottle to add accents on the fish—eyes, stripes, outline, etc.
- A sponge roller can be used to apply paint on larger
stencils. It will make the work go faster.
- For a wider range of colors, you might try
textile medium mixed into acrylic paints. Textile medium is made by
most of the major craft paint manufactures and will be available in
a rack near the acrylic paints.