Some of my favorite projects are the ones that just happen with no plan and no direction, the ones that are just made up as they go. This sweet pillow is one of those projects. It started as a stencil experiment and ended up being a fun little decor pillow.
For a while now I have pondered ways to use my StencilGirl stencils on fabric. I’ve been on the hunt for the right ink, the right, fabric base, and the right ink applicator tool. In my mind I knew my stencil designs would make fun backgrounds for appliqué and embroidery projects, but the fabric and ink needed to be just right so that it would look great. This week I finally found a combination that I loved. As I tested I liked what was happening and just kept adding and tinkering. I think I found a winning formula!
The Fabric Base…
For my test, I used Angel Hair colored linen from Week’s Dye Works. I really love this fabric and have used it often for the base on my Heartfelt blocks. Linen can be expensive, especially hand dyed linen. The thing to remember here is that it is a really quality fabric. If you want something less expensive, look for the same qualities as the linen- a tight weave with fine strong threads and all natural fibers. I also really love that linen has a stiffer tooth. I wanted my fabric to be extra firm, almost like a canvas so I added crafts weight fusible interfacing to the back of my linen. This kept the fabric from moving as I stenciled on it.
- Check out my video showing how to create a gingham pattern: How to Two Step Stencil
I have tried stenciling with ink on inexpensive muslin and was really unhappy with the result. Muslin tends to have a brushed texture that makes it slightly fuzzy. Ink lies on that fuzz instead of really laying on the threads.
I found that after trying different inks, the one I like best was one designed for fabric, Tsukineko Versa Craft Ink. It is a pigment ink with a chalky-like texture. It was easy to apply with my stencils, gave and nice crisp edge, and didn’t smear on the fabric. Best of all, it is permanent on fabric when heat set. Heat setting is easy too- simply place a pressing cloth over the ink and iron.
Because the Versa Craft Ink is opaque, I was able to layer more designs on top of my base design with very little if any bleed through. Heat setting between each layer helps keep colors from the two designs mixing and making “mud”.
To apply the ink, I used Tsukineko’s small daubers. They are very easy to work with (you can put them on your fingertips!). The small size helped me ink only the areas where I wanted too.
One thing I’ve found in my tests is that using a dabbing technique is the best. Wiping or swiping with a foam applicator can make fuzz balls that really detract from the crispness of a stenciled design. This is especially true with the less expensive fabrics like muslin.
Putting it together…
Once I was happy with my stenciled design I heat set it all again just to be safe.
To add more definition in the center of the flowers, I added small wool circles to the center of each flower. For a focus, I added a word. My Built on Love Pattern provided the shape for the word love.
I added a simple starburst like stitch to the center of each circle. I added a blanket stitch to the edges of my word.
The fun part of a project for me is when all the base pieces are done and I can add the embellishments. I love to lay lots of pieces on my project and move them around until I like what I have.
My “design theory” is that every project should have a heart on it somewhere to symbolize handmade love. Other embellishments include little die cut posies and leaves. I added a simple single stitch to each leaf to secure it and add detail.
Did you notice that the posies and leaves I used match the size and shape of the ones on the stencil? I did that on purpose! My Spellbinders Bitty Posies die set and the Posie Parade stencil were designed to work together!
Itty bitty tiny buttons from Just Another Button Company make perfect flower centers.
A decorative pin from Just Another Button Company adds a focal point to the heart.
One thing I love about products from Week’s Dye Works is that I can get embroidery floss and wool in the same color, I used Cherry Vanilla six strand floss and wool for the love.
Swoon… I don’t think I will ever stop being in awe of what my friends at Just Another Button Company can create in clay. Once you understand how they build these buttons, you will never look at them the same. This blue butterflies is one of my favorites! I’ve saved this one for just the right project! (Watch a video demonstrating how to build clay buttons.)
Seriously, I could not be more happy with how this gingham pattern looks on this linen. I love that it is soft and subtle, almost as if it has some age. It almost has a vintage printed tea towel feel to it.
I decided to finish my stencil and stitchery project out in a small decorative pillow. I dug into my Lady Dot Creates stash of hand-dyed trims and velveteen. This hand-dyed velveteen is so beautiful! And seriously, could there be anything more fun than pom-pom trim?
This little pillow makes me smile because it mixes and matches so many different bits and pieces that I love. I especially love that I found a way to incorporate my stencils into my stitchery projects too. I love that it adds so much added depth to the design.
PS. StencilGirl is having a FABULOUS sale! Use the code: MBS14 to save 14% on all stencils including my Two Step Stencils! I’ve added them all to the supply list below to make it easy to shop! The stencil sale ends July 8th at 11:59 p.m. CST so hurry and take advantage of this fun sale!