November 1, 2018

Ch ch ch ch changes…

Ohmygosh hi! I’m thinking about blogging again! My life has changed so much over the last few years, and at this point there are basically two paths this old blog could go down… it could just stop, and be nothing but an archive of past posts, or I could try to revive it as something like what it started as in the first place, over eleven years ago: a personal blog for sharing all sorts of projects and things, whatever I feel like writing about. I’d like it to be that!

So, as often as I feel like it, I plan to post here for fun: personal knitting and craft projects, garment sewing (the new thing I’ve just recently gotten into!), occasional tutorials perhaps, maybe food things sometimes, maybe I’ll show you graphic design projects sometimes, who knows. Whatever I feel like writing/posting about, here’s the place for it. Whenever I want to use more words than an instagram caption!

River dress!

So that’s the plan for the future—as for the past, if you follow me on social media, you probably have some idea of what I’ve been up to, but I’ll go ahead and tell you, all here in one place, and in a bit more gritty detail… a timeline, ish:

I was trying to design knitting patterns full-time, for many years, and it was going well, mostly a little better each year, until 2015… it just stopped getting better. Sales were dropping, I was struggling to make ends meet, and I finally came around to accepting that it didn’t matter how hard I worked, it was becoming impossible for me to design patterns for a living. I could switch gears to pursuing teaching as my main gig, or get a part-time job at a yarn shop, or something else within the knitting/designing world to keep on designing… I started really thinking seriously about what I wanted to do. Who I wanted to be when I grew up.

To be honest with you here, because why not, late 2015 / early 2016 was a REALLY hard time. When that realization hit me, that there was no amount of effort I could put in to make my knit design career work the way I wanted it to (meaning, pattern designing being the main way I spent my time and earned a living) I had major feelings of failure, many panic attacks, and lots of sad times. My life as I knew it could no longer go on, on this path I’d been on for a decade. I didn’t know what I was doing, with my whole life. The past ten years felt wasted. It was a shitty time. It was November 2015 to be exact, when this hit; I started crying over pizza with Pete at Rudy’s that night and couldn’t stop. There were lots of days when I started crying, but I also started seriously brainstorming about what the heck to do. For the past ten years I’d kind of gone where life took me, my career just finding itself, or something, which is probably part of the problem of why it failed? But now it was like I hit a wall at the end of that path and I was completely discombobulated, and needing to find a totally different path.

Oh, this is complicated and blurry; I’d already started thinking about doing things other than knit design earlier than this. I wasn’t totally deluded. Sales had been getting weaker for like another year before that, or showing signs of no longer getting better. The truth is, I was never making close to a living wage, my whole knit design (etc) career, so I’d always kept going with the expectation that if I worked my butt off things would keep getting a little better each year, and eventually I’d be earning maybe barely a living wage? But when I could see that it wasn’t continuing in the slight upward slope needed to keep going as I’d been going… I was aware that I needed to start rethinking things. But until late 2015, I’d been thinking along the lines of adding new streams of income to knit design, not changing paths completely. I’d started thinking about offering layout services for other designers’ patterns, because that was something I’d always enjoyed doing for myself, and I thought I was decently good at it. But, I was using iWork Pages (Apple’s version of Word), so even though my patterns looked okay, I didn’t feel like I could charge for a professional service using an unprofessional program. If I wanted to pursue this, I needed to learn InDesign.

So I started looking into learning graphic design, for real, beyond the self-taught design work I’d been doing for myself for my whole knit design / leethal career. I found out that my local community college had a really great intensive 2-year program, but what I thought I wanted was just a few classes. I just wanted to learn the programs—InDesign and Illustrator—enough to be able to fill in the blanks with online classes and practice. I could just do online classes, sure, but I didn’t think I’d learn as well as with a real life class. So I went to the info session about the PCC program, in the summer of 2015, and it seemed really cool, like a great program and like a really good fit for my interests and strengths. They tried to discourage people from doing it, saying how hard it is and how many people don’t make it past the first classes. It seemed really fun and interesting to me, but it would be such a big chunk of my life, I still didn’t want to commit to the whole program. Anyway, after it all broke in November and my life became sadness and panic attacks, and I knew I needed more than just a side gig option, but rather a whole new career, I decided that program would be a good life decision. The way the program worked, I had to take some classes as prerequisites at some point in 2016 and then the actual program would start in winter 2017, so in the spring I registered for some summer classes and I was on track.

In the meantime, my brainstorming about what I could do that wasn’t knit design led to my book idea! I started playing around with the idea in 2015, got an agent, and then worked with her on my proposal throughout the first few months of 2016… I got the deal with Clarkson Potter in spring and then spent the second half of 2016 going back to school and creating my book at the same time! It was busy and good. Exciting stuff.

I was still designing patterns a bit during this time, but it was no longer my main focus. I worked on finishing the designs that were already in the works throughout 2016, and I did my VIP club hats throughout that year, then released the Two Texture Trio during my first full-time school term in winter 2017—that was a BUSY quarter!—and I designed a pair of mitts for Stranded in spring of 2017. And that was that. No more knit designing. I’ve since re-knit and released Flit as a self-published pattern, and I will be releasing a couple of Stranded patterns and re-releasing at least one of my very old patterns as a newly updated design. So I’m not like retired from knit design 100% but I have no plans to design any new patterns. I’m not that sad about it; I have 174 patterns in my ravelry shop, I think that’s enough :-p

So, I did school, it was hard and good, and I graduated in June of this year. I spent a couple of months freelancing, job-searching, and working on personal projects. And I did a bunch of fun volunteer design work:

Volunteer graphic design work

I designed several for-fun graphics (scroll down to Printable Designs! to see them) that I stuck up on print-on-demand sites in case anyone was interested. These sites make the designers very little money, like I’ve seriously earned maybe 20 bucks from all my designs combined that I’ve put up in the last six months. But I like all the designs I made so I wanted them to be available to anyone else who wants them. They are also on my site as free downloads to print out on postcards or use as a desktop wallpaper or whatever.

Oh same deal with Spoonflower fabrics—I really love designing patterns (I even put a surface design page on my website in case anyone wants to license designs!), so I’ve put some of them up on Spoonflower as fabrics, and I’ve sold none, but they’re there in case anyone’s interested, and for myself to maybe buy some. Basically, since graduating, I had fun doing some personal projects that earned no money, which helped me get over any lingering feels of wanting to be self-employed anymore. It’s just no longer my path. I really enjoyed some of the freelancing but it’s also pretty stressful, and would be much more so if I needed to have enough jobs going at once to earn a living wage doing it.

Surface design!

So, I was looking at both part-time and full-time jobs, thinking that if I found a really great part-time job I would keep pursing the freelancing, and I do love working from home, not commuting, so there seemed to be strong pros to both a part-time and a full-time job… I applied to around 30 jobs total and heard nothing back from most of them; the graphic design job market in Portland is intense! One job application required a photo of me with my favorite vegetable (they never responded).

self-portrait with broccoli

And then I found a full-time job! Yay! But weird. I’m working in an office for the first time ever in my life. I’m working a structured 40 hours a week which leaves me with tons of time that I’m not working, and I’m basically not doing any work from home anymore now, aside from the possible occasional freelance gig I want to take on, and random knitting pattern updating I still plan to do, and some personal projects I still have in the works or rolling around in my head, but these things have no deadlines. Point being, I’m not constantly working or thinking about work like I have been for my entire adult life, and it’s pretty cool! I can sit and watch a movie and knit a just-for-fun project with no deadline and not feel guilty because I should be doing something else. A couple weekends ago, while Pete was working, I spent the day seeing a movie downtown and then walking around the city, all the way to southeast Division, in the perfect sunny fall weather, just enjoying the day and not thinking about work. It’s so nice! And then I just get a paycheck deposited into my account every two weeks, that’s unrelated to how many people decide to buy what I create. After so many years of my income being dependent on how popular my creations were, and how many people decided they were worth actually paying for (not just hearting on instagram)… I am not missing that at all.

It’s weird to talk about money, but I think it’s good to share these things sometimes. My situation has always been really privileged/lucky in that I had parents helping me through college, so no student loans, and then the whole time I had my self-employed career I had a partner with a steady income and some savings who could help me out when there was a slow month here and there, and cover enough joint expenses that my income could be pretty darn low and we could get by. If I’d been single, I always would have had to have a part-time job or some other steady stream of income, the whole time I was designing patterns. I think it’s important to know that if you’re trying to make it work doing something creative full-time, it’s freaking hard, if not impossible… if you look to me as someone who succeeded in doing it, well, the truth is that I didn’t. Not really. So there’s absolutely no shame in needing a part-time (or full-time) job to fill in the gaps from a creative self-employed pursuit that isn’t making enough to pay the bills. I really did think for years that if I worked hard enough it could be enough; I think the myth of meritocracy was so deeply embedded in my subconscious, I just kept working nonstop for years expecting it to be enough… anyway, I’m happy with where I am now but I had some really hard times, so hopefully my honesty might help some of you feel less alone or something?

But now I have a great job! I’m the new digital graphic designer at Knit Picks. I’m using all my knitting world experience from my pre-graphic-design-school years, combined with my new skills. It really makes those ten years feel less wasted! Not that they were actually wasted in any way, but that feeling, man, it’s rough. So I’m designing the Knit Picks emails and website graphics, working on other assorted graphic tasks like product tags and labels, helping proof the catalog and books, and possibly really fun future projects… and then also helping out with other Knit Picks tasks like naming yarns! Designing yarn colorways! Sharing my expertise on the podcast! Fun stuff.

If you’re wanting to see my work, the emails are all by me now (though some bits are using established styles/formats, but I’m still putting them all together), and a few graphics on the website are by me, with more coming soon as updates happen. A weird thing about this job is that because I mostly do web graphics, I’m mostly working in Photoshop, which is what I used the least in school. It’s frustrating at times, but I am already so much better in Photoshop than I was before! Oh I’m also on a PC, so that’s a big adjustment too, but I’m pretty used to it already; not as annoying as I expected it to be. So yeah it’s been just barely a month but I think I’m adjusting pretty well!

a snippet of a Knit Picks email I designed a snippet of a Knit Picks email I designed (and photo styled)

Another fun job thing is that I get to go help out with the Knit Picks booth at Stitches SoCal this weekend! It’s not part of my graphic design job, but the company is so small, people can kind of pitch in with things outside of their jobs, and they needed an extra person to help with the show so I’m going! I’ve never been to a Stitches before, so I’m excited about it! If you’re going, come to the KP booth and say hi!

And then as for the future of this blog… I have been getting really into garment sewing lately, so I’ll save that whole subject for another post, soon hopefully! And there are some random crafty things I’d like to post about, just to share, and to have a record for myself. I think now that this blog is no longer existing for my business, I’m just going to use it for whatever would be fun for me to write about, for myself and for anyone who’s interested! I might also go back and blog about some patterns from the past few years that I never blogged at the time when they came out. We’ll see. I figure I won’t be super regular, but maybe do a post once or twice a month or so. So hopefully I’ll be seeing you again soon!

Oh one more thing: I’ve set up my mailing list account to send out blog posts as emails, in case you want to keep up with me that way. If you’re on the mailing list and you’d rather not receive the blog posts, just unsubscribe (I don’t plan on sending out any other emails, just the blog posts). If you want to subscribe, the signup is at leethalknits.com (which is in need of a major update, so I haven’t really been linking to it lately—ravelry is better for browsing patterns). Okay yeah that’s all!

Filed under: graphic design,personal — Lee Meredith @ 8:40 am

September 7, 2017

leethal Stencils! Four ways to use them…

New thing! In graphic design school, we used a die cutter for a couple of projects, I was really into it, I checked craigslist juuuust in case and happened to find one used for less than half the price of a new one. So I impulsively bought it, started brainstorming what I could use it for, and now I’ve designed and made a bunch of stencils! You can find them in my newly revamped etsy shop here.

leethal pattern stencil

So first, about the stencils: they are made from thermal laminating sheets, run through a laminator with nothing between the layers, so they are basically sheets of plastic. I wanted to use something better for the earth, and/or recycled/reclaimed, but I found that this option makes the best durable, reusable stencils. I played around with reclaimed transparency sheets, but they didn’t cut as nicely and they don’t hold up as well, so this was the best quality option I could come up with. They can be used over and over if you’re gentle with them.

leethal word stencil

I’ve made two different types of stencils so far: words and repeating patterns. There are three of each type (for now, maybe more later!), and since the word stencils kind of fit together, you can get all three in a set if you want. The repeating pattern designs are different from each other; they are just three random things that I love — craft tools, vegetables, and elephants!

leethal pattern stencil

So, now I will go through four different ways you can use the stencils on fabric. I’ve only used them on fabric, so that’s what I’ll show you, but of course you can use the stencils on other things as well. You can stencil them directly onto clothes, like tees or skirts, or onto pieces of fabric which you’ll later sew into things, or on pillowcases, tote bags, etc. I’ll first show each of the four methods with single stencils, then talk about repeats…

leethal pattern stencil leethal pattern stencil

Before we begin, a note about paints. Be sure to read the label of whatever you decide to use. Many fabric paints need to be heat set (by ironing the fabric once it’s dry). Others don’t need heat setting, but must set for 24-72 hours before washing.

With all methods, it’s highly recommended that you put a piece of cardboard or paper grocery bag or something behind the layer of fabric you’re printing on, so the paint doesn’t bleed through to whatever’s behind it (the back side of the tee, for example, or the tabletop).

Method #1: spray paint.

leethal word stencil

Main pros of this method: it’s fast and easy. Main cons: it can be kinda blurry, and you need to do it outside or in a garage or something.

To use a stencil with spray paint, you’ll need to block out the area around the stencil, with paper or cardboard. If you want to be extra safe, tape it to the stencil so the paint can’t leak under…

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

You can see below that the paint did indeed float under a bit with this one, up by the collar, and down below, there are hints of orange. Also, if you want the stenciled image to be sharper, use 2-sided tape on the back of the stencil, to stick it onto the fabric. The closer the stencil is to the fabric, the sharper it’ll be.

using leethal stencils

After letting the paint on the stencil dry for a few hours, I used it again with a different kind of spray paint. Above was just regular hardware store spray paint, which does work on fabric and doesn’t wash out, but it can be a weird texture. You can instead buy fabric spray paint, pictured below (bought at a craft store), which feels nicer on fabric, and I think tends to go on a bit smoother, making slightly sharper images.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

I painted this the same way as the orange one, no tape on top or bottom, and I think it did come out a bit better, and the paint didn’t leak under the paper at all (but maybe that’s because I held the can a bit closer, or another reason, who knows!).

using leethal stencils

Method #2: sponge brush. (aka foam brush)

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

Main pros of this method: can look nice and clean if you’re careful, don’t need much space. Main cons: can get blobby if you’re not super careful, not fast.

using leethal stencils

The above stencil is on its second use; the red paint has been dry for several days. For this one I used Jacquard textile color paint. I highly recommend taping down your stencil for this method so it won’t move around.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

Hold down the stencil right around where you’re painting as you go, with your non-painting hand. It’s a good idea to also put pieces of 2-sided tape on flappy bits of the stencil, like insides of letters like c, e, n, d, etc, for example, since it’s hard to hold those down with your fingers as you paint. I did not do that here, and I got some unsharp edges but they may have just been a result of hurrying and not being as careful as possible.

using leethal stencils

Always dab the brush up and down, or in from the edges onto the fabric, never into the edges from the fabric. And very important tip (learn from my mistakes): use minimal paint on the brush. Blobs of paint will result in blobby stenciling.

leethal word stencil

That one above turned out pretty well, mostly because I learned from my own mistakes with my first go at it, pictured below… Firstly, I don’t recommend this kind of ribbed knit; the paint went on okay but since I didn’t stretch it while painted, the letters stretch and distort when I wear it. If you do want to stencil onto something stretchy, try to stretch it approx the same amount that it’ll stretch when worn.

using leethal stencils

For this one I used craft store fabric paint, which works fine but since I squeezed it out directly onto my fabric brush (instead of squeezing some onto a plate or something and then dabbing the brush into that), I had some big blobs of paint on my brush…

using leethal stencils

So I ended up with a messy stencil job. Main takeaway about the sponge brush method: don’t rush it! A smaller amount of paint on the brush will take longer to dab onto the fabric thoroughly, but it’ll be worth it for sharp edges!

using leethal stencils

I used a sponge brush for this tote bag, which doesn’t lie flat, so I held each part down carefully with my non-painting hand and went slowly, and it turned out well. Note about this method: it would probably work similarly with a normal paintbrush, if that’s all you have and you want to give it a try; just use the same tips about going slowly, dabbing up and down at the stencil edges, etc.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

Method #3: fabric markers.

using leethal stencils

Main pros of this method: clean edges, easy to use multiple colors if you want to, don’t need much space. Main cons: filled color can look a bit uneven, somewhat slow (but faster than sponge brush).

leethal word stencil

To test out this method, I first bought three different types of markers at the art store — one brush tip, one wide tip, and one chisel tip.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

They all worked, but the brush tip was best/easiest. So, I went and bought a whole set of brush tip (actually, they are dual-tip) fabric markers at the craft store.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

For this method, simply color in the stencil, being careful around the edges so color doesn’t get underneath, holding the stencil down with your non-coloring hand same as with the sponge brush method.

using leethal stencils leethal word stencil

Important note: when I reused a stencil that had been spray painted (and fully dried) it seemed fine, but when I reused one that had dried Jacquard paint on it, the paint bled into the marker color; same for dried fabric marker. So if reusing a stencil, test it out on scrap fabric first, or else choose a marker color that’s the same/similar or will blend well with the dried paint. You can get some really color effects by purposely blending colors from the stencil edges!

using leethal stencils

Method #4: screen print.

using leethal stencils

Main pros of this method: can look very good/clean, the actual printing is quick and you can do multiple prints in a row. Main cons: more tools needed than other methods, and some space, and extra cleanup time.

using leethal stencils

This method works like normal screen printing, but you’ll use a blank screen placed over the stencil. So you need a screen, a screen printing squeegee, a stable surface, and fabric paint that’s meant for screen printing. I also used a palette knife to get the paint from the jar onto the screen. Place the stencil where you want it on the fabric, then carefully place the screen on top. If you want to be extra careful, and/or if you’re using a stencil that doesn’t have much blank space from the image to the outside edges of the stencil sheet, place some thick paper around the sides of the stencil so that you won’t get paint onto the fabric at the edges. (I did not do that in this example, I was just careful to keep the paint within the stencil sheet.) Put some fabric paint in a row along the top, above the stencil image (but not above the actual stencil sheet!).

using leethal stencils

Use the squeegee to pull the paint over the stencil, with pressure to push it through to the fabric. Run it back and forth a few times. Be sure to cover the whole stencil image. I did not do that! I missed the side of the y at the end there. Also, my paint was like ten years old, so it was kinda globby, which I think contributed to how it didn’t cleanly fill in the right side there. The rest of it turned out nice and clean though! If you’re careful, the stencil will be stuck to the screen with paint, and you can set it onto another fabric item and print it again, as long as the stencil doesn’t shift on the screen.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

If you want to try out this method with cheaper tools, but potentially slightly messier results, you may be able to use things you already have. You need: an embroidery hoop big enough to fit the stencil, a piece of mesh fabric bigger than the hoop, a squeegee of some kind that can fit in the hoop, and fabric paint. The homemade screen I have is smaller than the stencils, so I used a mini-stencil just to show you. My squeegee is a cheapo (dollar store?) one that I broke the ends off of to make it fit in my hoop. You can also use an old credit card as a squeegee — that actually might be the better option since I think you get cleaner results from a harder squeegee and this one I used is much softer than the screen printing squeegee. The denseness of the mesh fabric will determine how much paint gets through and how clean the print is: denser mesh equals cleaner print. You can also buy screen printing mesh for this.

using leethal stencils

Same steps as above, place stencil, place screen over it, paint goes onto stencil sheet above stencil image.

using leethal stencils

Pull the ink over the stencil.

using leethal stencils

And lift it up to reveal your print! I either used a bit too much paint here, or it’s just that my mesh isn’t dense enough and/or my squeegee is too soft, because my print isn’t super clean.

using leethal stencils

But it looks okay, mostly just a bit thick. Anyway, play around with that if you have a big hoop and some mesh fabric!

using leethal stencils

With repeating stencils, I recommend any but the screen printing method, depending on exactly what you want to do. Screen printing is not recommended for this mostly because it would be difficult to line up the repeats, and you’d need a lot of space. For printing directly onto clothing, the sponge brush or fabric marker methods will give you the most control.

leethal pattern stencil

The sponge brush will take longer because you’ll need to let each repeat dry to the touch before doing the next one, since the stencil will overlap on top of the paint.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

I did the craft tools on the skirt above with screen printing paint, and I sponge brushed the elephants on the skirt below using craft store fabric paint (same type of paint as the red blobby one up above, but I was careful here to limit my paint amounts and I got clean edges).

leethal pattern stencil

And I did the vegetables below with fabric markers. The marker method goes much faster here because you don’t need to let the paint dry between repeats, since the marker ink isn’t wet enough to be able to smear when you place the stencil overlapping the previous repeat.

leethal pattern stencil

All three of these were repeated along the bottom of the skirts, so only one row of stencil, repeated across. The elephants and rainbow vegetables go all the way around, and the craft tools are only on the front.

leethal pattern stencil leethal pattern stencil

Here’s another example of using a pattern stencil on clothing, but not repeated: I stenciled some of the vegetables onto a pair of socks, pulling the socks over cardboard rectangles so that they were stretched a bit. I stenciled each side, and then turned the sock a bit around the cardboard to get the part that needed to wrap around.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

Then there’s the option of stenciling whole pieces of fabric! All the pattern stencils are designed to be able to repeat across and up and down, so they can be all-over patterns. For this, I recommend spray painting, because the other methods would just take so long.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

For spray painting with the pattern stencils, you’ll need to securely tape paper or cardboard around all the sides to protect the fabric from the paint.

using leethal stencils

Tape it all together super securely! You don’t want things coming untaped as you’re painting (trust me)! Tape can go over the stencil, just make sure all the holes are clear. Put tape on both sides.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

Especially if using cardboard, overlap the stencil over the paper/cardboard with the wrong side of the stencil up, so you’ll place the stencil on the fabric with the stencil side down, touching the fabric. (So the stencil isn’t raised up off the fabric the width of the cardboard.) I recommend putting 2-sided tape on the side that will touch the fabric, just to help it out to touch the fabric as much as possible.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

For the cleanest results, tape your fabric down (stretched a bit if it’s stretchy fabric) on a smooth surface, like a large piece of cardboard. Start at one corner, and spray your first repeat:

using leethal stencils

Now, lining up the repeats is a bit tricky since your stencil isn’t see-through anymore, once there’s paint covering it. You’ll need to look through the holes, and also pay attention to where things are lining up, like if the top edge of the paper taped to the stencil lines up with the top edge of the cardboard under the fabric, then keep those lined up as you repeat across the row.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

This uses a lot of paint! I ran out of blue and had to finish with purple. For this super long piece, only the top half-ish fit on the cardboard, so that half was taped flat/smooth, and I left the bottom half loose, just smoothed out over the grass. So I can show you the difference between smooth/flat fabric, and not so flat fabric. Here’s the taped down fabric:

using leethal stencils

Versus not taped down. See how much blurrier lots of the edges are:

using leethal stencils

For this next one, I was using a knit fabric, so I stretched it a little, smooth over the cardboard. It went beyond the cardboard there at the bottom, but it’s taped underneath in a couple of spots.

using leethal stencils

Same deal, start at one corner and repeat across the first row. For all of these, I used normal (non-fabric) spray paint.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

Next row across, lining the repeats up the best I could…

using leethal stencils

And changing colors here for each row.

using leethal stencils

Tip: be extra careful with really floppy stencil bits, like the embroidery hoop on this one. It’s easy to accidentally smudge paint from a floppy bit onto the fabric as you place the stencil, and if you’re reeeaally not careful, things can happen like you see below:

using leethal stencils

Done!

using leethal stencils

This last one had some issues. The fabric took the paint weird, I don’t know why, it just didn’t show up well at all. I sprayed extra paint on, using up the first color (it wasn’t a fresh can though!) and switching to a higher contrast color for the top and bottom rows. For the circle, I started in the center for the longest row first:

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

This stencil was taped to cardboard, so to line up the repeats I lifted the one side of the cardboard (the lifted side is the blurry line in the photo below) to see the previous repeat next to the stencil.

using leethal stencils

Here’s how this one turned out, kinda subtle but it works:

leethal pattern stencil

Here’s another big learn from my mistakes tip: the tape on this one started coming undone in the middle of the repeats, and I was trying to fix it, wiggling the stencil around, turning it upside down, and the paint started dripping all over the place, on the front and back sides! This made the stencil unusable until the paint could dry, since there were drips on the side that would touch the fabric. So tape thoroughly, and be careful and gentle as you use the stencil!

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

Another tip about spray painting a lot of repeats: wear disposable rubber gloves if possible, at least on one hand, because once the paint starts to build up you may want to touch up edges of the stencil, remove globs or blades of grass, etc. If you don’t wear gloves, spray paint is really hard to get off your fingers (TRUST me).

leethal pattern stencil

Here’s a smaller repeat job I did with spray paint — the front side of a tee. Same deal, just line up the repeats across the rows.

using leethal stencils

I did this one before all those others, and I wasn’t as practiced yet at lining up repeats, so learn from my mistakes here too and be careful lining up repeats! ;)

using leethal stencils

Lastly, if you’ll be sewing your stenciled fabric into something, I recommend cutting the pieces out first. That way, you’re not painting anything that won’t get used. I cut out two pieces shaped like this to sew into a pair of leggings:

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

Same process, tape down the fabric (stretched!) and stencil the repeats to cover the whole piece. For this, I used the fancy fabric spray paint. I was not stingy with my application, especially at the beginning when I was still getting used to it, and I ended up using up the entire can about 1.5 legs in. Had to run to the craft store to buy another can and finish the job. So, I recommend just normal spray paint for large jobs, because they use so much paint, and/or if using the pricier paint, don’t spray more than is needed.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

After the paint was dry, I sewed them up and here they are:

leethal pattern stencil leethal pattern stencil

Okay I think this post is long enough!! Comment if you have any questions, and I might add updates to the post with extra tips/notes if things come up. Here’s another link to my etsy shop, where the stencils live :)

Filed under: clothing,general crafts,graphic design,leethal store,stencils,tutorials — Lee Meredith @ 1:31 pm
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