How to Use Stencils on Clothing to Create Unique & Custom Designs

by Dariacreative
6 Materials
45 Minutes

If you’re trying to make uniquely customized clothing, then you may want to make designs by hand. But stencil designs for clothes definitely have their place as well, especially if you want your custom design on a lot of pieces of clothing or one repeated element in your custom design.

Follow along and I’ll show you how to use stencils as a part of your eye-catching customized clothing.

Tools and materials:

  • T-shirt
  • Stencils
  • Paper
  • Masking tape
  • Assorted fabric paints, spray paints, and fabric markers
  • Assorted paint brushes
Preparing the stencil

1. Prepare your stencil design

First, put a piece of cardboard inside your t-shirt so that paint won’t bleed through from one layer to the next.

Now, position your stencil on your t-shirt and use masking tape to hold it in place. You can also use the masking tape to cover any small holes in the stencil that you don’t want as part of your design.

Laying paper around the stencil

Lay paper around the stencil design to protect the rest of your t-shirt from spray paint.

Spray painted on top of the stencil

2. Spray-paint your stencil design

Textile spray paint in a pump is the best choice for filling in your stencil. You can also use acrylic spray paint if you can’t get textile spray paint, but the acrylic paint will make your clothing a bit stiff.

Completely cover the stencil with your spray paint. Don’t hold the paint too close to your stencil though, because then you risk getting paint under the stencil, which will reduce the sharpness of your design.

Let the paint dry a bit before removing the stencil, to keep the design from smudging as you remove it.

Take a look at my previous tutorial on how to spray paint your clothes for more textile spray paint ideas.

How to create clothing stencils designs

3. Reveal your stencil design

Carefully remove the paper from around the stencil and lift off the masking tape and stencil to reveal your design.

Easy stencil designs for clothes

And there is the completed stencil design on my clothing!

Washing the stencil after use

4. Preserve your stencil

You can wash your stencil with soap and water so you can reuse it for other projects.

How to use letter stencils

5. Add lettering with stencils

Since letter stencils are generally smaller than graphic stencils, it’s easier to use a small paint brush and fabric paint with them, rather than trying to contain the spray paint.

Lettering stencils often have a sticky underside to keep them in place on your t-shirt as you paint.

Adding details with a fabric marker

6. Add some hand-drawn details

To make your stencil clothing more customized, you can draw on extra details with fabric markers or with a paintbrush and fabric paint.

Using dimensional fabric paint

You can also use fabric outliner or dimensional fabric paint.

Adding interest with spray paint

7. Finish with a background

Pull all the elements of your design together by adding a background with some spray paint.

Adding paint splatters to the design

Paint splashes in the background also add interest.

DIY stencil clothing

How to use stencils on clothing

Here’s the final result of my stencil design and I think it turned out great! I hope you try it, and then leave me a comment to let me know what stencil clothing you made and how yours turned out.

Suggested materials:
  • T-shirt
  • Stencils
  • Paper
See all materials

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