How to Make a Stencil for Canvas

Written by heidi a. reeves
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Stencilling provides an easy way for you to create custom designs on canvas. You can turn a plain canvas tote bag into a cute reusable grocery tote, decorate canvas aprons especially for your favourite family cooks and turn boring canvas shoes into fashion-forward works of art. You can easily create stencils appropriate for use on canvas. The process is easy, and you can make designs with as much or as little detail as you would like.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Freezer paper
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Black marker
  • X-acto knife
  • Iron
  • Canvas

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  1. 1

    Select an image from which to create your stencil. Choose a high-contrast black and white image as this will simplify the stencil-making process.

  2. 2

    Cut a piece of freezer paper large enough to fit your image with a border of 2 inches or greater on all sides. You can find rolls of freezer paper at any large grocery store. The paper, which features a smooth, butcher paper side and a waxy side, is ideal for stencil-making.

  3. 3

    Place the freezer paper waxy side down and draw your image. Once you complete the image's outline, use a black marker to colour in the areas you want the paint to go through.

  4. 4

    Cut out the image with an X-acto knife. Save any white pieces you cut out in an envelope. You will reposition these later in the stencil-making process.

  5. 5

    Iron the canvas surface you want to stencil and arrange the freezer paper, waxy side down, on the front of the fabric.

  6. 6

    Iron the freezer paper. Instead of moving the iron back and forth (this could cause the edges of your outline to peel up), place the iron straight down on the freezer paper.

  7. 7

    Reposition the white pieces of freezer paper into the stencil's main outline. Iron each one into place as you go.

Tips and warnings

  • You can use one freezer paper stencil five or six times before you need to discard it. If you want to make an edition of prints, consider screen printing instead of stencilling.

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