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Make Christmas Stencils With Your Computer

By Edited Apr 4, 2016 4 4

Christmas Tote Bag

Designing your own crafts at Christmas can be fun and inexpensive. You don't have to be an artist to embellish tote bags, ornaments, greeting cards, or other projects. You can do it all with stencils you create yourself using your computer and your printer. Children love holiday crafts and using stencils is an especially easy way for them to have access to unlimited design and image possibilities. Whether your images will end up on wood, glass, fabric, or another surface, stencils are a great way to apply an outline of an image that you can later transform into a colorful image with paint.

CHOOSING IMAGES

You may want to start a project but don't know exactly where to begin. Even if you have no particular focus, there are many avenues you can take for inspiration and to find appropriate images. Also look at the list of ideas at the end of this article. In additon, you may discover something that appeals to you by flipping through magazines, taking a photo of something you see at the mall, or simply Googling "free Christmas images". You'll find many sites where you can download images absolutely free. Be sure to read the restrictions on each site as they can differ greatly. Most allow you the right to download the images for your personal use. The only restrictions usually involve your use of the image if you plan to sell what you create or publish it. When searching for images to use for stencils, look for simple, uncomplicated designs and lines. Keep in mind that you will be the one cutting out each line of the stencil. Don't choose something that will be so involved, frustrating or challenging, that it will discourage you from completing your chosen project.

CREATING STENCILS

To create a stencil from the color image you've found, bring the image into Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, or a similar program that will allow you to alter the image. The following instructions use tools and menus from the Photoshop program but your image program may have similar tools with different names and menus.

1) Use the magic wand tool to select the entire white background.

Select white background

2) From the select menu, choose "INVERT". Everything will be selected on the page that is NOT white.

3) In the "EDIT" menu, select "FILL SELECTION". Choose 50% grey. Click OK. Your color image is now grey.

Your image is now grey

4) To create a stencil, print out the image on card stock.

CUTTING STENCILS

Many materials can be used for stencils, even discarded x-ray film! But that's heavy, difficult to cut, and not typical. When you're looking for a stencil end product that will last indefinitely, you'll want to use a stencil blank made by companies like Plaid and sold at fabric and craft stores. The inexpensive, transparent, blank sheets come in 8 x 10 and other sizes. You can use a stencil-cutting tool with the blanks. It has a fine-point, heated tip that slices easily through the sheet. But you can also cut the blank with a craft knife. An easy way to do this is to put your image under a piece of clear glass. Put the stencil blank on top of the glass and tape all three items to the work surface so they don't slip around while you cut out the image.

If your stencil will only be used two or three times, you can simply print your image on card stock and use a craft knife to cut the stencil. Repeatedly using the same cardstock stencil, is not a good idea. If you use acrylic paint on your stencil, it will cause the edges to curl, or warp after several applications and the edges will not lay flat. This will result in images with poorly defined edges.

USING STENCILS
There's no shortcut to producing clean edges when painting images using stencils. Holding down the edges rarely works to keep paint from seeping past the boundaries of the stencil. Repositionable stencil adhesive spray creates the best result. You can lift it and move it to another spot if you don't like your original position. Spray the back of the stencil using a moderate coat. Applying too much adhesive may cause cardstock to separate when you remove it from your project. It may also leave behind a thin layer of paper that can be difficult to remove, especially when you are painting fabric. Follow application instructions on the adhesive container. Craft shops like Michaels, and art supply stores like Aaron Brothers carry the product as well as some fabric stores like JoAnns.

DIE CUTS

When making stencils, saving the die-cut pieces will give you options for some creative design elements.

Use a die-cut to create an outline of an image.

Spray adhesive on the back of the die cut piece. With your stencil still in place, position the die cut where it would normally fit, but move it slightly away from the stencil edge and press in place.

Use die-cut for outline

Paint this area to create an outline. Remove the die cut and repeat on all sides until the entire image is outlined.

Painted outline

Use a die-cut for a reverse paint image.

A die-cut can be used to form "resist", preventing an area from receiving paint. The lettering on this tote bag is a good example.

Christmas Tote Bag

The die-cut letters were sprayed with adhesive and put into position before the white paint was applied to the side of the red canvas tote.

STENCIL LAYERING

A way to introduce more design elements into your creation is to layer stencils one over the other and paint each layer with a different color. Always put down the light color first, then the darker color and be sure the first color is dry before adding an additional color.

When stenciling one single object that will contain two colors, like the Christmas light bulb pictured above, put down a piece of painters tape to mask off one color area. Paint the open area. When it is dry, move the tape to cover the newly painted area. Now you're free to apply another color.

STENCIL PROJECT IDEAS

Here are some holiday craft ideas you can give as gifts or make for yourself or your home. Google these keywords to see images that will inspire you.

Christmas napkin rings

Christmas greeting cards

Christmas gift tags

Christmas gift bags

Christmas giftwrap

Christmas wine bags

Christmas wrapping paper

Christmas tree ornaments

Christmas stockings

Christmas tree skirts

Christmas tote bags

Christmas boxes

Christmas coffee mugs

Christmas dinner napkins

Christmas tablecloth

Christmas placemats

Christmas serving tray

Christmas dishtowels

Christmas apron

Christmas tee shirt

Christmas baby's bib

Christmas framed artwork

Christmas door hanger

Christmas photo album

Christmas flowerpot

Christmas cookie jar

Christmas napkin holder

Christmas scarf

Christmas mittens

Christmas design photo mats/frames

Christmas gift baskets

Christmas dinner place setting cards

 

See The Kinds Of Projects You Can Create With Stencils

Other Christmas Relalted Topics:

How To Make Glass Tile Ornaments

How To Make Custom Glass Tree Ornaments

How To Make Angelic Tree Ornaments

How To Make Jeweled Snowflake Ornaments

How To String Light On a Christmas Tree By Yourself

How To Move a Decorated Christmas Tree

How To Make A Rhinestone Santa Hat Ornament

Buying A Real Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree Skirts - Origins And Traditions

How To Contact Santa

How To Make A Snowfall Shirt

Stencil Making Tools And Materials

Which Digital Stencil Cutter To Buy?

ColorArtz Fabric Airbrush Tool - A Review

Simply Spray Fabric Paint - Review

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Comments

Nov 13, 2010 8:57pm
Deborah-Diane
Great idea ... and so easy! You gave very complete instrctions that should prevent disasters. And I love the cute picture of your sample, too!
Nov 14, 2010 6:04pm
Lynsuz
Fabulous. Very well done. Thanks for sharing.
Nov 15, 2010 10:12pm
vetochemicals
Totally perfect directions for making stencils on the computer, I should really try this... I think I have that photo shop program!
Nov 24, 2010 9:36am
eileen
Great descriptions of making stencils for printing out gifts. I used to do screen printing as a home business and that was fun but lack of being able to do artistic drawings let me down I had to pay people to do the better jobs.
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