I’ve done my fair share of stenciling in the past. Okay, admittedly, it was way back in the 90’s. But with the growing trend of stenciled furniture, walls, floors, pillows, curtains, or pretty much anything with a flat surface …I’m inspired to give it a go again!
In Photoshop, I found a geometric design I really liked. One green tea and an hour later, I had searched Cutting Edge, Royal Design Studios and The Stencil Library (just to name a few) for a similar shape and sized stencil.
Well, no worries. I’m a Blogger and DIY’er right? … not to mention I’m too impatient to wait days or weeks for delivery anyway. How hard could making my own stencil really be?
I’m happy to report, although a little time consuming (my stencil was large!), making a stencil is super easy. Here’s a peek at how my DIY Stencil project turned out … using NO costly stenciling gadgets I may add! 🙂
This post contains affiliate links to products used. You can see my full disclosure here.
How To Make A Stencil with No Costly Gadgets … believe me, if I can do it … YOU can do it!
DIY Stencil Supplies
Mylar or any Transparent Plastic Sheet | A Stencil Design/Pattern | Exacto Knife| Cutting Mat | Ruler | Low Tack Tape | Sharpie or any Fine Tip Marker
1. Find a pattern you love. I found my pattern via shapes in Photoshop. I simply printed it out to the exact size I wanted for my china cabinet. I also made sure to print out a border around my stencil design. This gave me a guide to line up while tracing and painting.
If the stencil is for your own use, you can find inspiring patterns online, in books, upholstery, china or wallpaper.
If you’re artistic, why not try drawing a design freehand!
Just keep in mind, if you choose a pattern that does NOT have disconnected parts (like my pattern shown above), you need to draw them in yourself as I did here on the left.
2. Line up your stencil design and Mylar sheet square and even. This is really easy if you’re using a craft or cutting mat because most mats provide ruled guides. If you’re using a piece of cardboard or something else to cut on, a ruler will work just as nicely. Once you have your stencil design and Mylar sheet square and even, tape it in place.
3. Trace your stencil design. Using a Sharpie or fine tip marker, start tracing your design. My stencil was a large 3ft x 2ft so I used the printed guidelines to move my pattern around and repeat the design. I took my time tracing and had fun… you’ll feel like a kid back in grade school!
I used a ruler to trace the straight lines and freehand for everything else. I don’t know if this will work for you, but the more pressure I applied to the marker, the more even my freehand lines!
Take your time with the tracing. If you do make a mistake, no problem. Permanent marker wipes off of Mylar very easily with a Q-Tip and rubbing alcohol.
4. Cut out your traced stencil pattern. Cutting out your pattern with an exacto knife is easy but does take some time. For this large 3ft x 2ft stencil, it took me 3+ hours. The key is a super sharp blade and a ruler for cutting straight lines. The Exacto Knife works great if steady, even pressure is applied. Then “pop” out the cut piece being careful not to rip the Mylar.
5. Your stencil is ready to use! Once all your pieces are cut out, your stencil is ready to use. Here what my completed stencil looks like. Oh… and more pic’s of how well it worked on the back of Will’s China Cabinet.
The “Pros” of Making My Own Stencil
~It’s a “Custom” Original. I chose my favorite design and I was able to customize and adjust the design for what size of pattern worked for the project.
~It’s Re-Usable. This stencil can be used over and over again like any store bought stencil.
~Time Saver. It took some time to cut the stencil out, but overall I saved time. I didn’t have to wait for delivery or spend hours driving to a variety of craft stores in search for a design.
~Inexpensive. This stencil cost me $6.
The “Cons” of Making My Own Stencil
-Time. I did set aside a half day to complete my stencil and the cutting of this 3ft x 2ft stencil took 3+ hours.
~Requires a “somewhat” steady hand. I did really well but my stencil is not as “perfect” as a machine cut stencil.
~I needed to change blades. I changed blades a few times because I was applying too much pressure while cutting.
If I ever start creating a lot of my own patterns and DIY Stenciling, the Cricut, Silhouette or other stencil cutting gadgets and machines would be a fabulous investment. For now, this “old-school” method is what I’m sticking with!
If you have any stenciling questions OR tips OR tricks OR would just like to chat 🙂 … leave me a comment below!
And as always, thanks for reading and have a super day!!
Letitia Parker says
Have you tried or thought about using fused plastic bags to make stencils? I’m gonna try that, and thanks for the article and ideas!
what size stencil did you buy? the size of your plastic looks huge. where did you buy it?
Great job! Thanks for the inspiration. Did you make registration marks to align your design? Can you detail that for me?
This is very, very cool and extremely professional looking (not to mention the fact that you can reuse it many times!)… Gotta give you a huge thumbs up!!. I’ve recently gotten into airbrushing… I have zero ability/talent for free hand drawing…. But I also have an almost zero $ budget & after purchasing the paint & all the necessary supplies (other then stencils) I’m left with no stencil money. What I’ve been doing is using file folders, drawing out my desired shape…. Then drawing over it about 50 more times until it looks the way I want it to (😸) & whalah…..a 15 cent stencil!! Granted, this is not necessarily a reusable method… I’ve been able to reuse one three times (most I’ve ever tried) & most likely, that’s it… Stencil dead…. Just wanted to throw this out there for anyone who doesn’t need a stencil to use over and over.
Oh, I want to try airbrushing as well! It looks so interesting to me! And so brilliant using the file folders. I never would have thought of this! TY