How To Stencil A Laundry Bag Tutorial

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How To Stencil A Laundry Bag Tutorial

Feeling stuck in an endless laundry cycle? Break up the monotony with this rustic, farmhouse laundry accent stencil from Oak Lane Studio. A personalized laundry bag is a great way to spice up this household chore. Personalized laundry bags also make excellent high school graduation gifts! For this stenciling project we used our "Wash Dry Fold Repeat" laundry stencil. This stencil is a staple of laundry home decor and also looks great on walls and laundry room signs. Monogram stencils would also be an excellent choice for personalizing a laundry bag.

In this easy, DIY tutorial, we will cover various stenciling techniques, including how to stencil on fabric, stenciling with fabric paint medium, and the dot test. Scroll to the bottom of the page to watch our How to Stencil a Laundry Bag video tutorial.

Now, let's get to stenciling!

Supplies you'll need to stencil a laundry bag:

Stenciling Preparation Tips: 

  • Clean the Bag

    Before beginning a fabric stenciling project, we recommend washing the fabric. It is always best to paint on a clean surface, and if you plan on washing the fabric in the future it is best to do so before stenciling, just in case the bag, shirt, hat, pillowcase, ect. shrinks in the wash. If you do not want to or cannot wash the fabric, use a lint roller to remove dust and debris from the fabric before stenciling. It is also important to stencil on a smooth, even surface. If the bag you will stencil is wrinkled, iron out the creases before stenciling.

    • Practice Stenciling First

      We also recommend practicing stenciling on a piece of cardboard or scrap fabric before stenciling on you laundry bag, especially if you are new to stenciling.

      How to Stencil a Laundry Bag Guide

      Step 1: Use Cardboard to Secure the Laundry Bag

       Spray a piece of cardboard

       Start by securing your bag to a piece of cardboard. This step is essential, as you will need a flat and even surface to paint on. Spray one side of your cardboard with repositionable adhesive spray, then wait 30-60 seconds before slipping the cardboard inside the laundry bag, with the sticky side up and against the side of the bag you want to stencil. It is important to wait 30-60 seconds, or the cardboard may be difficult to remove later. (Our adhesive spray is strong stuff). Press and smooth the fabric over the cardboard, and make sure you have a flat and even surface to paint on.

      Stenciling Tip:

      Weigh down the end of your bag with rocks or a book to keep the ends or handles from curling upwards.

       Step 2: Tape the Stencil Template Outline

      To align the stencil with the center of the bag, and paint a background, you will need to tape an outline. Start by find the center of the bag.Use a ruler or measuring tape along the top of the bag to find the midpoint. We marked our midpoint with a small piece of frog painter's tape on the top rim of the laundry bag. If your bag is particularly wide, you can measure the space between the bag handles.

       Tape a stencil background

      Place a plain sheet of paper on the bag so that it is centered with the equal space between the paper and the left and right ends of the bag. Tape around the piece of paper. This is where you will stencil. 

      Stenciling Tip:

      Run two straight lines of frog tape from the bag handles to the bottom of the bag and place another piece of tap at the top of the bag where you have measured the midpoint. These can be good reference points to make sure your stencil is centered and straight.

       Step 3: Paint a Background (optional)

      Because our laundry bag has a striped pattern, we painted a plain white background before stenciling. If you are stenciling a solid color bag you don’t have to paint a background, but a second color can really make the stencil design stand out.

       paint a background

      To paint a solid backdrop, first tape around the edges of your centered sheet of paper. I always recommend using frog tape because it is the gentlest, as you remove it frog tape is less likely to take paint off with it. Once you have taped a border, you can remove the piece of paper. You will paint inside the taped box.

      How to Paint on Fabric: 

      When painting on fabric, it is best to mix acrylic paint with fabric paint medium. You will need to mix two parts acrylic paint with 1 part fabric paint medium (2:1). Measure (approximately) your paint and swirl the acrylic and fabric medium paints together (this can be done on a paper plate).

       paint a background color

      Now dip your foam roller in the mixed paint, be sure to blot off any excess paint on a paper towel or newspaper and begin painting your stencil backdrop inside the taped border. You will probably need to apply several coats of paint, especially if you are using a light color.

      Once you have an opaque background and are satisfied with the color, gently peel off the frog tape, and wait for the paint to dry. Whenthe paint has complete dried you can begin stenciling.

       Step 4: Spray the Stencil Template

      First, spray the back of the stencil with Repositionable Spray Adhesive. It is best to do this away from your stenciling project, as you don’t want the spray adhesive to also get on the laundry bag.

       spray and tape the stencil

      Wait 30-60 seconds after spraying before carefully positioning the stencil on top of the painted backdrop. Once the stencil is in place, press down on the design edges to make sure that the whole stencil is flat. Tape around the stencil edges with frog painter's tape, this will help prevent any paint straying outside the stencil design and ensure a clean paint finish.

       Step 5: Mix Your Paints

      Mix the paint you will use for the stencil design. The ratio of acrylic paint and fabric paint medium should be 2:1: 2 parts acrylic paint and 1 part fabric paint medium. For our laundry bag we used Americana Acrylic paint and Americana fabric paint medium. 

      Key to stenciling: A Dry Brush

      Stenciling is a little different than painting. It is important to stencil with a dry brush (the Dry Brush Technique), which means that your brush should be almost dry to the touch when you stencil. (And yes, we do really mean dry). Stenciling with too much paint will cause the excess paint to “bleed” or seep under the stencil design and blur the artwork. Paint bleed can also occur when stenciling on a rough or uneven surface, which is why we recommend using a cardboard base to smooth the laundry bag. 

      The Dot Test can help you gauge how much paint is need.

       The Dot Test For Stenciling:

      How to check that you have the right amount of paint to stencil

      1. Dip you brush or roller in your paint.
      2. Dab or roll all excess paint onto a paper towel or rag. (We recommend holding a roll of paper towels in one hand and dabbing the stencil brush onto the roll).
      3. Make a dot or roll 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!
      4. If using a paint roller, press the foam with one finger, if paint wells up around your finger, you have too much paint. Repeat step 2.


      Step 6: Stencil

      Stencil the laundry bag

      Once you have a “dry brush”, start stenciling by swirling or stippling paint into the top of the stencil design (the words) in small circular motions. When you first start stenciling there should only be a very light “kiss” of paint coming through. Resist the urge to add more paint to your brush, the color will accumulate in many thin layers of paint.

      How many layers of paint you will need depends on the stenciling project. 5-6 coats of paint is normal, but every project is different and you may need more to achieve your desired finish. Stenciling on fabric often requires more layers of paint than hard surface.

      Step 7: Relax

      Play some music, listen to a podcast or audiobook and enjoy watching the stencil design gradually fill in. This is time you can relax and have some fun with stencils and paints!

      As you get farther into the layers of paint, you may notice that your brush seems to remove paint rather than add it. If you see this, take a brief rest from stenciling and give the layers of paint a few minutes to dry. Once they are dried, you can resume painting. 

      Once you have finished stenciling in the words, switch to a larger brush and stencil the clothespin. When stenciling larger designs, a larger brush is needed to create an even color.

      When you have finished stenciling and the paint has fully dried, gently remove the frog tape and the stencil.

       Step 8: Paint a Border

      Mark the border outline with pencil

      To create a crisp border, tape around the inner edges of the stenciled design, so that the outer edges of the tape and the outer edges of the design are aligned. Measure ¼ inch from the tape and lightly pencil a line, ¼ inch from each side. Tape a second, outer border along this line, leaving a ¼ inch gap between the inner tape border and the outer border.

       Mix acrylic and fabric paint medium

      Use the Dry Brush Technique to stencil a border in a second color of paint. (we used red). Again, mix 2 parts arcylic paint with 1 part fabric paint medium. When you have finished stenciling the border, wait for the paint to dry before gently remove the frog tape.

       Gently peel off the tape

      Finished! Go find some dirty laundry to put in your newly stenciled Laundry Bag!

      Fabric Stenciling Video Tutorial

      If you found this tutorial helpful be sure to browse our other stencil tutorials. For a detailed walkthrough on how to stencil our wash, dry, fold, repeat stencil onto a fabric laundry bag watch the video below.


      Share a photo of your stenciling project with us, we love seeing stencils in action!