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Making your own fabric patches

If you like to sew, fabric patches can be a nice way to customize what you make. This is a quick tutorial on how to make a batch of small patches using a simple stencil technique and silk screening ink.

I recently created some patches to customize a pile of hand-made hammocks.

What you will need

  • Fabric paint or silk screening ink (plain acrylic paint works too for a frugal option but it does not last as long. There are products you can use to turn acrylic paint into a suitable fabric paint).
  • Paint brushes (or maybe your fingers?)
  • Fabric ink pens (optional)
  • Craft knife for cutting out stencil
  • Thin plastic to make reusable stencil
  • Blank fabric patches

 

How to

1. Make your patches. I used raw canvas (100% cotton) and sewed the edges to prevent fraying.

2. Rummage through the recycling for a suitable plastic lid or container that you can safely and easily cut through to make a simple stencil.

3. Draw your image onto the lid.

4. Cut out image using craft knife.

5. Lay stencil flat to fabric, apply pressure with one hand and use other hand to apply ink through the stencil.

6. Using a fabric ink pen, clean up edges of your design where the ink may have bled through or created uneven edges. Add details to make your simple stencil design more dynamic.

7. Allow ink to dry (this may take hours, read the label on the fabric paint you are using).

8. Once the ink is dry, apply a hot iron for the time suggested on your fabric ink label. Mine says iron on highest heat setting for up to 3 to 5 minutes on each side. This takes patience. Protect each side with a sheet of paper so you don’t accidentally get ink on someone’s ironing board or iron.

Cautions

Ink runs-stencils are simple ways to create many similar images; however, the ink can bleed through under the edges of your stencil. This might require you to rinse the stencil each time you use it so that your edges can be more defined and reduce blotching of ink.

Blades cut-be careful when using knives, especially retractable blades as they are sharp and delicate. Pay attention to what you are doing and go slowly. If you are doing this with children and they intend to use blades, make sure they have proper supervision and help. Pick a plastic that will lend itself to being cut with ease rather than something unreasonably hard (i.e.: yogurt lid vs. peanut butter jar lid).

Fabric can become burned-applying a hot iron to fabric can create burn marks. Make sure you follow the directions on your fabric ink label if it requires you to apply a heat treatment to the ink. Use 100% cotton because it is less likely to burn under high heat, whereas synthetic fabrics will melt or become discoloured.

 

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