Just as the avid reader loves to have a queue of exciting novels to crack open and begin at the drop of a hat, I love to have a stash of projects ready and awaiting my hungry needle.

This nice stash does not come without a very lot of prep and work. I'll be honest, cutting and stenciling is not my most favorite thing to do. If I had unlimited funds, it would be so much easier to go to the Alabama Chanin website and let them do all the "dirty" work. Wouldn't that be lovely? Alas, I am fully capable of doing it all myself, so cut and stencil I shall.

I had come to my last project with nothing ready to start on next. I emailed my trusty creative buddy who had been wanting to try out her new airbrushing system. It was a date! We both agreed stenciling together would be so much more fun; and we were right! It was very nice to bounce ideas and information around. In some cases the extra set of hands was a project saver.

It took me a few weeks to plan out all the projects I would stencil. I took stock of the colors and quantities of fabric in my stash: I started a Pinterest board with ideas I had been dreaming of: And I started making my wish list. What began as just a couple projects grew to seven garments. That's a lot of cutting and stenciling.

I don't have any photos of our actual stenciling session; but here is a rundown of my process.

Spray in a well-ventilated area out of the direct sun and wind. Have paper towels and rags handy.
Lay down plastic and/or drop cloths.
Lay down a layer of paper.
Place a cut, top layer panel of your project, right side up, onto the paper.
Spray adhesive onto the back of your stencil. (The adhesive should last for four or five uses.)
Place the stencil on top of your fabric, press down so the stencil has good contact with the fabric.
Cover any fabric not being stenciled with paper or cardboard, just in case of overspray.
Spray fabric paint onto your project, slow and steady.
Blot off the stencil (especially mylar) before peeling it off of the fabric or the excess paint will drip off of it while lifting it away.
Carefully peel your stencil off of your fabric.
Move your panel of fabric out of the way, and begin on your next panel.

**Edit update: My friend used her Badger airbrush system with Createx paint and Alabama Chanin paint. She found adding thinner necessary for a successful spray. I used Tulip Colorshot fabric spray paint. In one instance I used beige paint on red fabric. Luckily I checked the results before lifting the stencil. It wasn't what I wanted so I added just a quick spray of black on top. Phew! Mistake saved. It was difficult to get the exact same results on all the panels sprayed, though. Next time I'll be sure to count the seconds of spraying to try to keep it more uniform.**

Here are the individual "kits" I put together. All the fabric is Alabama Chanin 100% domestic organic mid-weight cotton jersey; and all the stencils are from Alabama Chanin.

1) Black on black fabric; paisley stencil; Tulip sparkle fabric paint; Alabama Chanin drawstring pants pattern, modified. I'm not usually a sparkly or glittery paint person, but black on black is almost impossible to see, and even the gray paint I have is very faint. I've found that a little sparkle or glitter or pearl makes it easier. I may use the reverse applique technique, thus cutting off most of the sparkle....though I may change my mind and go with negative reverse applique to make a lighter garment.

2) Apple over white fabric; daisy stencil; Tulip colorshot fabric spray paint in beige; Dottie Angel Simplicity 1080 pattern, cut short to make a top. I've made this top in a basic and love the fit. You can read more about it here. I'll use the negative reverse applique technique.

3) Autumn over ballet fabric with hand-dyed madder binding; Angie's Fall stencil; Tulip colorshot fabric spray paint in beige; Alabama Chanin t-shirt pattern, sleeveless, shortened, with a v-neck; negative reverse applique technique.

4) Parchment fabric; daisy stencil; white Tulip colorshot fabric spray paint; self-drafted sleeveless shirt pattern; negative reverse applique technique.

5) Storm blue over twilight fabric; daisy stencil;  gray (or was it saddle brown???) Tulip colorshot fabric spray paint; Alabama Chanin mid length fitted skirt pattern; negative reverse applique technique.

6) Apple over burgundy fabric; new leaves stencil; Tulip colorshot fabric spray paint in beige then black; Alabama Chanin Factory dress pattern with a v-neck; negative reverse applique technique.

7) Suede over white fabric; I will use Abbie's Flower stencil; white fabric paint; Alabama Chanin t-shirt top, modified, with cap sleeves; negative reverse applique technique.

Our next "date" we'll be wet-paint stenciling. Summer is the perfect time for it; and I really enjoyed my previous foray into this technique with fantastic results. Read more about wet-paint stenciling here. Wish us luck for a second go-around!


  1. They all look great. Can't wait to see the finished garments.

    1. Thanks, Cindy! Have you started making your wish list for your trip?

  2. Thank you for all the inspiration. Number 6 has an interesting tip, spray with 2 colors without mixing. My black gold attempt is hard to see so I wonder how spraying with gold first, followed by black would work. You have a lot of beautiful pieces for your wardrobe. Elsie

    1. Hi Elsie~ The two colors was one of those "oops" moments that luckily worked out. I sprayed the beige onto the apple and checked it before taking the stencil off. My heart sank: It wasn't what I wanted at all! So I very lightly sprayed some black on top of it, and liked the results. It was a little tricky trying to duplicate the same coverage on all of the pieces, and it's not exact, but close enough. Next time I will count ~ one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three for the top coat so I don't make it too dark.
      Try your gold then black on a scrap. Fingers crossed it works for you!! Let me know!

  3. Love the two color spray idea also. Can't wait to see how these all turn out.

  4. Hi Sue~ A mistake that ended well ~ phew! With the limited colors in the tulip colorshot spray paint, I may end up doing it again on purpose. I have a lot of silver sparkle, but it's just too sparkly. Maybe a bit of something on top will tame it. Thanks!

  5. Hi Patti -just found your site - I have supplies ready to stencil first time on a shirt, except for a stencil. I've been trying to cut one out myself with an exacto knife but it's laborious & not very exact. Love the Chanin stencils of course but a bit pricey for my budget. Do you have any ideas on how I could create or purchase stencils less expensely?

    1. Hi Kathy~Yes, cutting your own stencil is laborious! Using a very sharp exacto blade(s) and pennant felt or thick interfacing is the easiest way I've found to cut a stencil (but still time consuming.) I've heard some people use freezer paper for a one-time use, and that's supposed to be pretty quick and easy. I've never done that, but I think there are instructions on the internet. Best of luck with your stenciling. I hope it all goes smoothly for you.