TUTORIAL: how to make your own stencil!

Are ya ready? Are ya ready? I’m about to show you an alarmingly EASY way to make a stencil… using any design you want!

Let’s start with your list of supplies:

1. pattern/design of your choice
2. transparency
3. Exacto knife
4. cutting board or thick cardboard

Yep, that’s it. You can get a transparencies at any office supply store or printing shops.

After choosing a pattern…

images (1)

Use any simple photo-editing software, and crop it down to the size you want your design, change the color to black/white, change the size to 8.5 by 11, and print on regular printing paper. (Or, if you have a laser printer, print it directly onto the transparency and omit the next step!)


And then tape the corners of your paper onto the transparency.


Flip your page over so the transparency is on top…


Take your Exacto knife (with a brand new blade) and carefully start slicing away along your lines. No need to push very hard. It’s such a smooth easy process… and it goes surprisingly  FAST!!


And THIS is why you need a cutting board or cardboard!


Peel off your paper…


Voila!!!  …you made a perfectly legit stencil, and it cost you about 89 cents, and about 5 minutes of your time.


Let’s STENCIL!! You know from yesterday’s post that I used this stencil on the backboard for Brenda’s hutch! So this is what I started out with:


I laid out my stencil, and squirted some acrylic paint on a paper plate. I did tape down my edges in a couple different places just to make sure things stayed in place. If you’re doing this on a vertical surface (like your WALL), you’ll want to use some stencil adhesive to keep things in place.


And then I just started blotching the paint on with my little round stenciling foam thing. I bought a whole package of these at Walmart for a couple dollars. Be sure to blot most of the paint of your brush before applying it to the stencil/surface.


Peel back your stencil… line it up next door, and repeat!


It goes really fast!  Just move right down the line!


Instant gratification for sure.

stencil tutorial3

How incredibly EASY?!? Right? Sure, there will be some touching up… but you’ll have that no matter what when there’s paint involved.


Please make a stencil at your earliest convenience. It so rewarding, and turns out so amazing! I can’t believe it took me so long to finally sit down and make a darn stencil! AND.. adding a little pattern to a piece of furniture or an accent wall can make a dramatically beautiful difference. And it’s CUSTOM!


Go forth and STENCIL something! And send us pics if you give this a try! We’d love to see what you come out with!


  1. I just discovered you and I am hooked! I have wall papered book case backs for the same effect and am considering a stencil on my next project. I wanted to add a suggestion of getting giant sheets of mylar from art stores. I have a bunch that are like 24×36 which makes a much larger and thus faster stencil. I would offer suggestions for where to buy but I live in Canada so thats not helpful for most. But I got mine at art supply stores not big craft stores like Michales but smaller artist stores.

  2. Great job and I think I have a book shelf that this technique would look awesome on. Thanks for sharing

  3. Great job, like always you are so talented. Also, I was trying to find the post of the accent wall you did at your mom’s house. If you could tell me the name of it or give me a date or link that would be awesome. Thanks, Canna.

  4. Hi Canna! Here’s the link to my mom’s living room wall treatment!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much! I have a “pintrest” project that I need to finish and was hung up on making a stencil. I think I will finish another project this weekend!

  6. If you have a laser printer, you could print the stencil directly to the transparency paper. Might save some time :) (But ink jet printers definitely wont work)

  7. Great tutorial, I am curious where to find stencils online. I googled it but did not come up any suitable sites.

  8. Thak you so much!

  9. Thanks for encouraging me to make my own stencil. I have been wanting to stencil my kitchen, which is basically just the space between the upper and lower cabinets, so not a big deal and not really worth shelling out the big bucks for a “real” stencil. I’m hoping to have a flat or eggshell base and a high gloss design in the same color. :)

  10. Anonymous says:

    it turned out awesome! I am also wondering where a good online place to find stencil designs are. Is is really easy to find them or do I need to do some digging?

  11. eh ! hi! thanks for a beautiful post and i tried ur idea on my wall and it came very good :) keep sharing ur art work :) thank you much :)

  12. I just want to take a second to say, even if you don’t see this post, that I find you absolutely amazing, and you are a role model for all of us lazy crafter. Even with those twins and the problems you have endured, you have made some amazing work happen! I am inspired by all of your projects, and I cannot wait to get into my new home (first ownership) and make it happen for me too! I have been sharing your tips and tricks, and I’m currently shopping for a cheap but decent projector as well as an easy way to make transparencies. The house I’m looking at has a shop with electricity, and during my mommy time, I plan to drink much less than I do now while so idle and sad. I think this will be the perfect cure to my depression. Thank you for relighting my crafty candle!!!

  13. Hey there! Saw your guest post over at All Things Thrifty and followed the link back over here. I love this article! Thanks for the inspiration! I have a few spaces and furniture that I will be stenciling and it is good to know I will be doing it with my own stencil. :)

    Thrift Diving

  14. This is FANTASTIC!!! Thanks for sharing!!

  15. ok, i’m trying this…on a whole wall! so please wish me luck!
    btw, loooove your blog and all your projects. you guys are great.
    congrats on the work and on the babies.

  16. Hi! This looks great. I was hoping to do mine on the ceiling – do you think spray adhesive would work? Also were you at all concerned about paint getting behind the stencil (transparency)? I won’t have a repeating pattern but just a single item to put in many places. And I don’t want to get paint on the ceiling in any place but for my stencil. Thanks!

    • Hi Vanessa! Ok, since your stencil is going to get a lot of use, I would glue two transparencies together with some sore of spray adhesive before you cut the stencil. This will just make it extra durable and less floppy.

      As far as using spray adhesive to stick the stencil to the ceiling, I cannot offer any advice! I’ve never had good luck with using spray adhesive, and usually just end up taping on the edges. But for a ceiling, you would almost HAVE to. Sorry I can’t offer any suggestions on that front.

      I WOULD like to say that I would use a stencil brush instead of a foam brush like I used in this tutorial. I’ve since learned that stencil brushes make a much cleaner line, and there’s less paint seeping under the edges. You’re still going to have touch-ups, no matter what. But this way it will be less.

      Hope this helps! Send pics when you’re done!!

  17. I want to do this, but on a much larger scale. Is there transparent paper or stencil plastic that is BIG? I want to do a large graphic on a sideboard.

  18. Thank you so much for sharing it helped me a lot on my new project thanks so much!

  19. Thank you so much for sharing it helped me a lot on my new project thanks so much! Also i thought the stencil was so cute1

  20. Thank you so much for sharing it helped me a lot on my new project thanks so much! Also i thought the stencil was so cute! And Keep me Posted! :) :D

  21. Tammy Salvatici says:

    I love your work! You have the patience of a saint! Can you please tell me the color of paint you used? I would like to use the same color combination. Thank you so much!

  22. Loving this page. Thanks for sharing.

  23. what material is that “backboard” made of?


  1. […] need to make my stencil.  You could also make your own stencil if you like (there is a tutorial here and here)  but I think vinyl works the best to get your lines nice and crisp. Once you get your […]

Speak Your Mind