A stencilled border along the edges or the hem of the curtain can add a smart finishing touch to a room. Even lightweight fabrics such as voile and muslin will accept a stencilled pattern and here are a few tips to help achieve success when stencilling on fabrics.
If the stencilled fabric is intended to be washed after it is decorated I advise laundering it before the stencil work commences. Launder fabrics according to their instruction and omit fabric softener or any finishing product.
Spray repositioning adhesive is recommended to keep both the fabric and the stencil from moving. I roll out wide paper or plastic to protect my work tables then apply a light, even, misting of the adhesive to it. The fabric is smoothed over the barely tacky surface until wrinkles are removed and the fabric is held. The adhesive should stop the most lightweight fabrics such as voile or muslin from shifting whilst being stencilled. Try to lift delicate fabric as little as possible to prevent it stretching between pattern repeats. Apply a slight coat of the spray to the back of the stencil and press it into position. Follow the manufacturers safety instruction when using spray products. I used concentrated acrylic paint, it is washable on fabric; I chose colours to match my client's tiles.
Whenever possible use the hem or curtain edge as a guide to align the stencil pattern. If a pair of curtains are being stencilled then make sure that the position of the stencilled pattern will match on both sides. A pattern can flow seamlessly between two curtains if desired or the stencil can be flipped so that the pair mirror each other... just remember to clean the stencil before using the other side.
Flip the stencil to make a mirror image.
This stencil used registration points cut into the stencil surround to keep the pattern repeats equal, they are little diamond shaped holes placed on either side of the pattern. A mark is made through the registration points before the stencil is removed. When using this method to stencil onto fabric I recommend placing a little piece of low tack tape firmly onto the fabric under the registration points so that one can make a mark through the hole onto the tape rather than marking the fabric.
When the pattern has been stencilled and is ready to reposition match two of the diamond shapes on the stencil with the marks made on the surface or tape, press the stencil into position and complete the next portion of the border.
When the project is finished simply remove the tape from the fabric. You can see the pieces of tape at the top of the next photograph.
To be in keeping with the delicate nature of this fabric I stencilled the edges of each of the shapes in the pattern and left the middle unpainted. This technique requires a good,soft but flexible stencil brush and the merest whisper of paint.
This is how I stencilled the curtains:
Put a little paint onto a palette. Always keep the stencil brush at 90 degrees to a surface. Dip the very tips of a stencil brush onto the paint then rub the loaded brush firmly in a circles onto a wad of paper towel; This action distributes the colour throughout the bristles and works the paint well into the brush whilst keeping the tips of the bristles free from excess paint. The paint on the brush should be damp not wet. Keeping the brush at 90 degrees tap the bristles onto scrap paper and run your finger over the mark that it leaves, if the imprint is clean and clear with no smudge you are ready to stencil. If not circle the brush again onto a dry area of paper towel.
To achieve the effect in my photographs use a light, circling motion to apply the paint, start on the edges of the shape so that a proportion of the brush action is on the surrounds of the cut out shapes; work toward the centre but cease before reaching it. One achieves solid impression of colour by re-stencilling areas to build coverage rather than using a laden brush.
Some paints need to be heat set with an iron, this paint does not; however, heat setting the paint is a good habit to develop. With an iron as hot as is suitable for the fabric press onto the reverse side of the stencilled area. Press for a few seconds or as long as the material will bear. This should enable future launderings without losing the stencilled decoration. Now, hang the curtains, stand back and admire them.
The water colour illustration at the top of my post was found in my inspiration file it was painted by Margaret Kennedy and showed curtains stencilled by designer Tom Delcambre.