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DIY Christmas Decorations: Stencil on Fabric

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If you’re ready to learn how to stencil on fabric – and DIY Christmas decorations – this is the perfect tutorial. It’s an easy project and the techniques, plus everything I used, can be applied to so many different crafts. But start with this one before unleashing your creativity.

steps to stenciling on fabric Christmas decoration

No time to read now? Pin this project for later.

I made a Reindeer Feed bag out of plain muslin cloth and I’m planning on filling it with birdseed. Little ones will have loads of fun sprinkling the birdseed outside as a Reindeer snack on Christmas Eve. I had fun using paint to stencil the bag – it’s a win-win DIY craft!

You can watch me in action on the video tutorial here. I’ve edited it down from a Facebook Live so you can just watch the steps as I go through them. If you’d rather grab a list of all the supplies I used and read through the step-by-step instructions, scroll on down pasted the video.

HERE’S EVERYTHING I USED STENCILING PAINT ON FABRIC TO MAKE A REINDEER FEED BAG (AKA SNACK BAG)

JRV Stencil “Reindeer Feed”

Wise Owl Paint One Hour Enamel in Veronica Vaughn

21” x 21” square of plain Muslin fabric

Burlap ribbon for drawstring

Birdseed to fill the bag 

Foamboard square for work surface

Paper plate for paint palette

Medium-sized Stencil Brush

Frog Tape – wide

Paper towel (for paint offloading)

Sewing machine

This also looks adorable stenciled on a pillow cover or plain colored apron. The possibilities are endless – just remember the old gift-giving advice: one for you, one for me.

PREP YOUR FABRIC

Start by pre-washing the fabric (I used a 21” x 21” square of plain muslin) to make sure it’s free of anything that might prevent the paint from sticking to the fabric. Iron the fabric square completely, once it’s dry, and then press creases for the casing and the sides of the bag’s face.

To make sure you know where to press in the creases, take a look at the video at min 2:36 and note the locations as I show them.

align pressed in creases on muslin fabric

When I start a project, I like to assemble everything I’ll need so I can go through each step without stopping to search for things. So, when my fabric is pressed and ready to go, I pull out:

STEP 1: SET UP FABRIC AND STENCIL

If you took a quick peek at the video, you saw the square piece of foamboard I use for stamping and stenciling projects. Arrange your fabric on top of the foamboard, smoothing the wrinkles out of the fabric with your hands as you center it. The stencil is going to be positioned on the fabric about 3” from the bottom and equidistant between the two side creases.

I tape down the stencil completely – all four sides – with wide frog tape when I”m stenciling paint on fabric. This helps keep the stencil from moving while you’re applying the paint – and keeps the paint from getting on the fabric other than where I want it. 

use wide tape to secure stencil on all four sides

When applying each piece of tape, make sure you firmly press them down along the side of the stencil and onto the fabric edge. The stencil is 8” x 8.75” and the front of the bag (where the stencil goes) is 10” x 10” – and that doesn’t leave much room on either side for the tape.

I don’t measure precisely when I’m placing the stencil, but just give it an approximate eye-ball placement. I can remove the tape pieces and make adjustments if it looks off. Once it’s centered and secured, you’re ready for the paint.

STEP 2: BRING ON THE PAINT

Put a small amount of paint on the stencil brush and then immediately offload paint onto a paper towel. The secret to stenciling with paint on any surface is less paint. It’s one way to control the paint from seeping under the stencil and blurring the lines.

It also helps to keep flecks of paint from landing on the fabric when the brush is too loaded. 

When you’re satisfied with the amount of paint on your stencil brush, start applying the paint. I typically use a dabbing and pouncing motion to apply the paint to the stencil. Don’t hesitate to repeat this step as you go along. This great Christmasy red can appear almost pink if there’s too little paint on the brush.

Stencil paint on fabric

It’s good to practice before you paint on your project. Try applying the paint in varying amounts onto scrap muslin fabric to get a feel for how much you’ll need to create that true red. The paint is somewhat thin, so find that perfect line between too little and too much before getting to your real project.

You can even stencil a coat of the paint, let it dry, and go back with a second coat if that makes you more comfortable. Remember – once excess paint gets on the muslin – it’s staying there permanently.

The Wise Owl One Hour Enamel dries very quickly, so when you’re finished applying the paint (one coat or two), it’s time to peel back the tape. Now, carefully peel off the stencil by holding one corner of the fabric from underneath. Grab a corner of the stencil and lift it up and off the fabric.

I was super happy with the results! After the paint was completely dry – I went on to sewing the bag together and threading burlap string through the casing. Final step – fill it with birdseed and display it prominently until Christmas Eve! (or wrap it up with ribbon and gift it.)

Stenciled image on fabric

Here Reindeer, Reindeer, Reindeer (jingle, jingle.)

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