To successfully stencil, use fabric paint or thickened dye. If the dye or paint is not thick enough, it will seep under the stencil and ruin your design. You can use commercial stencils or cut your own designs.
Cover your work surface with plastic, freezer paper or newspapers to protect it.
Place extra newspapers or other paper under your fabric to absorb excess dye or paint.
Place the fabric on the newspapers and tape down with a little masking tape to hold it in place.
If you are going to only make one print, you can also tape down your stencil.
Pour the fabric paint or thickened dye in part of a flat plate (the plate can be paper, plastic, ceramic, glass or metal – old tin pie plates work great).
Using a foam brush, pick up some of the paint/dye and pat it mostly off on the other part of your plate, until the brush is almost dry.
Holding your stencil down firmly with one hand, pat the color on with an up and down motion. (Do not stroke it like a painting! That motion will force the paint under the edge of the stencil. Up and down only!)
Pick up more paint/dye, pat it dry and pat it on the stencil openings, being sure to get into all the corners of the design. You can do multiple colors, blending the colors as you go, keeping the stencil firmly in place as you work.
To see if you are satisfied with the coverage, still holding the stencil down, lift up one corner and check if the coverage is as you want it. If not, add more color.
To get a really intense color may take several applications.
When you are satisfied, carefully lift the stencil straight up off the fabric. Do not lay the stencil down flat (unless you are finished). If the stencil itself is stiff, lean it against an object. If the stencil itself is quite floppy, use a skirt hanger and hang it where it will not touch any surface. If you lay it flat on a surface, some of the paint may go through to the back and ruin your next print.
If you want to overlap images, it’s best to let the first layer dry, then add the next layer. Otherwise, you will pick up the previous colors on the back of your stencil and place them where you don’t want them.
When finished, dry and fix the colors according to the directions of the product. I often again use a skirt hanger to suspend the fabric until the color is dry.
Clean off your stencil with warm water.
You can wash fabric paints and dyes off of hard surfaces (glass, metal, ceramic) or just throw away paper and plastic plates. Clean your foam brushes thoroughly (while the color is still damp) in warm water.