How to Stencil Tote Bags | Farmer's Market Stencil | Oak Lane Studio

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How to Stencil Tote Bags | Farmer's Market Stencil | Oak Lane Studio

Need a unique, reusable bag for your trips to the grocery store or farmer's market visit? The best way to customize your canvas shopping bags are with this stylish farmer's market stencil from Oak Lane Studio. Follow along to learn how to stencil your own canvas shopping bag with this design. 

In this how to stencil tutorial we will show you basic stenciling techniques as well as how to stencil on fabric.  

Supplies for Stenciling a Canvas Tote Bag:

How to Prepare the Bag for Stenciling

Dust and dirt will prevent the stencil template from properly adhering to the canvas. Go over your tote bag with a lint roller or some masking tape to clean away the dust. 

Now that your bag is clean, it is time to secure it to a piece of cardboard. This is important for two reasons. One, it will keep the fabric in place while you stencil. Second, the cardboard will smooth the fabric and provide an even surface to stencil on, this is important for preventing paint bleed. (We did not do this in the video. For best results, follow this step). 

Spray one side of a piece of cardboard with Repositionable Adhesive Spray. Hold the spray can 6 to 8 inches away from the cardboard to spray, and keep you mouth closed while spraying. Wait 30-60 seconds after spraying before position the tablecloth on the cardboard. Our adhesive spray is very strong, and if you don't wait at least 30 seconds you may have trouble removing the cardboard after you finish stenciling.


Stenciling Tip:

If you think you might wash you tote bag at some point, be sure to wash it once before you stencil. You don't want the bag to shrink in the wash after you have taken the time to stencil it. If your bag is very wrinkled, iron out the creases. Dips in the fabric are places paint can slip underneath the stencil and blur the stenciled design.

How to Prepare the Stencil Template

Next, spray the back of the stencil template with Repositionable Spray Adhesive, just we described above. After 30 to 60 seconds, position the stencil on the tote bag.

how to spray a stencil template how to stencil on fabric how to stencil a tote bag

Press all the stencil cutouts firmly into the fabric until the stencil template is completely flat. Tape around the outer edges of the stencil template with frog painter's tape. 

Best Paint to Stencil on Fabric

To stencil on fabric, you can either use fabric paint or mix Fabric Painting Medium with acrylic paint (we use Americana Acrylic Paint).

What paint to use to stencil on fabric 

We like to mix Americana Acrylic Paint with Fabric Painting Medium. The ratio is roughly 2:1 acrylic paint to Fabric Painting Medium (however much acrylic paint you use, mix in half that amount of Fabric Painting Medium). You don't need to precisely measure your paint doesn't, just make a rough estimation as you pour the paint. Mix the two paints together on a paper plate.

How to Stencil a Fabric Tote Bag

Now the paint is mixed, it is time to stencil!

Stenciling is not painting and the key difference is that amount of paint you use to stencil. Your brush or roller should be almost dry to the touch when you stencil, otherwise excess paint will seep under the stencil and cause paint bleed.

The "Dot Test" is a good way to see if you have to right amount of paint on your brush for stenciling.

how to stencil how to stencil without paint bleed

 The Dot Test for Stenciling:

How to check that you have the right amount of paint to stencil with a paint brush.

  1. Swirl your stencil brush in the paint.
  2. Dab and swirl excess paint onto a paper towel. (We recommend holding a roll of paper towels in one hand and dabbing the stencil brush onto the roll).
  3. Make a dot of paint on a scrape piece of paper. Brush the dot with your finger. If the paint smudges you have too much paint. Repeat step 2. If the paint does not smudge, you have a dry brush and are ready to stencil!

Begin swirling or stippling paint into the stencil template cutouts (brush strokes are not used for stenciling). At first it may seem that the paint color is too faint, that is normal, resist the urge to immediately add more paint to your brush.

how to stencil a canvas bag stencil in many layers of paint how to stencil properly

Color will gradually accumulate in many thin layers of paint. For fabric stenciling, 3 to 4 coats of paint is normal, but you might need more or less depending on the color paint you are using. Continue stenciling until you are satisfied with the color. (You can peel up a corner of the stencil to see how the color looks).

remove the stencil template stencil a farmers market bag

When you are happy with the color, wait for the paint to dry completely before peeling off stencil template and frog tape. 

And that is how you stencil a reusable fabric tote bag!

How to Clean the Stencil Template

Our stencil templates are easily washable and reusable!

For this DIY stenciling project, we stenciled with a water-based paint which is exceptionally easy to clean off of stencil templates. To clean the stencil template, first soak it in hot water for five minutes, this will loosen any paint that has dried on the stencil. Then wipe away all the remaining paint with a cloth and store the stencil template for future DIY stenciling projects.

For more information on how to clean stencil templates, please see our FAQ page.

Watch our How to Stencil a Tote Bag Video Tutorial

Stencils are an easy, budget-friendly tool to hand paint beautiful home décor that reflects you and your décor style. We offer a wide selection of stunning home décor stencil templates for you to hand paint your home with.

Learn more about how to stencil your home and create beautiful home décor in whatever style you like. Visit our Stenciling Blog, or Video Gallery for how to stencil tutorials and projects tips. Browse our home décor stenciling projects Photo Gallery for ideas and inspiration on how to use stencil templates to decorate your home.

Please send us a picture of your DIY home décor stenciling projects or share your DIY stenciling projects with us on social media! We love to see stencils in action.