Stencil Tutorial

I mentioned last week that I was thinking of rug hooking one of my fish drawings.  I needed some way to transfer this to the cloth, so I decided to make my own stencil.  The added benefit is that I can also use it in my quilting, too.

For this project, you need a line art drawing of some sort, stencil plastic or mylar, an exacto knife or special stencil cutting knife with 2 blades, a permanent marker, and a cutting mat.  I just used a exacto knife since that is what I happened to have on hand.

Step 1: Decide on your art, then enlarge or reduce to the size you want:

stencil1.jpg and print out:  stencil2.jpg

Step 2: Trace the drawing onto the stencil plastic (or mylar) using the permanent marker.  Use your exacto blade to carefully cut out the black lines.  (Hint: I plan my connecting lines ahead of time so the stencil will stay together)


Last step: Use the stencil to mark where you wish.  You could use this to mark a quilt with chalk or- as in my example- I’ve marked a piece of burlap for a rug hooking project:


Easy Project!  I suggest this tutorial for all levels of experience.  Just be careful of that sharp exacto blade or stencil knife.  As with all my previous tutorials, please share what you create if you use this.

Regards, Carla

8 thoughts on “Stencil Tutorial

  1. Great tutorial, next time you might want to try the double bladed Exacto knife that will cut both lines at once for your stencil, it would have saved you so much time and the spacing of the blades is perfect, love them……… Cute fishy can’t wait to see him in swimming colors

  2. Couldn’t you take your drawing, tape it to a window or lightbox, and by placing your fabric over it, transfer the design by hand? It seems to be a simple line drawing, not something so complex that you would need to make the stencil. Maybe I’m missing something…


  3. Hi Cynthia, using a lightbox to transfer designs would work with light color fabric. In my rug hooking dilemma, I was using a burlap kind of material that was not see through at all. I solved this problem with making my fish stencil.

    I could have also just drawn my design directly onto the burlap, but I wanted it to be similar to a fish lined art I drew up previously. I was also experimenting with the process.

    Sometimes, I use stencils with marking pens or chalk- as part of the quilting process. Most of the time, though, I just freehand quilt most of the quilts that I do.

    Does this explain my thought process a little better? If not, just comment again. Regards, Carla

  4. Hello Carla

    I think it is great to take a piece of artwork and use it in other mediums. I am a watercolorist and I enjoy creating rug hookings from my paintings. I create a great effect by dying my own wools.

    When I first started to reproduce my patterns I used pellon
    the marker seemed to seep through the fibers and worked this worked very well but I found the pellon to get sticky when it got wet.

    I now use tuelling or netting and this works so great the lines show lightly through the netting when traced so you can go over them on any type of fabric, you don’t have to use any form of knife and you have a compact pattern for future uses.

    I have found this to be be very valuable in my reproduction of rug hooking patterns to burlap and linen.

    Perhaps you could try it and let me know what you think! You may like your fishy rug so much you may want to create multiple patterns for other hookings etc.

    Andrea Rheinlander
    Paint by Threads

  5. Hi Carla…I use a light table to transfer patterns to burlap, linen or Monk’s cloth for my rug hooking designs.
    My husband cut out the center of an inexpensive dining table – like one from Target, WalMart, etc -and we placed a piece of stiff clear plastic material in the opening.

    I put two lamps under the table and now, when I want to transfer any patterns, I just do it on the light table. It works better than my small light box or holding it up to the window…especially when I’m doing larger rugs!!!!! LOL

    I am not fond of netting, red dot, or pellon…or the time it takes cutting stencils… so this works for me!

    I really love “painting with wool”!

    Enjoy! Sunnie : )
    Folk Art from Old Crow Farm

    Thanks, Sunnie!! Happy Hooking!

  6. I took rug hooking waaaayyyy back in high school. What we did then and I do now, is use screen door replacement fabric to transfer designs. I draw the design using a Sharpie right on the screen. Then when ready to transfer to your burlap (or other fabric) Just place the screen fabric over it and draw right onto the burlap with your favorite marking utensil. The screen is undamaged and ready to use again if you ned to use all or part of it in another project.

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