Making my own stencils

So, I've decided to make my own stencils. I saw someone do it on TV or in a magazine article and am just sure I can do it too. The person I saw do it used a simple U-shaped wood carving tool to cut the plastic along the lines she drew. That was a couple years ago. If I'd looked online for updated instructions, I'd have found that Olfa makes a stencil cutter now with replaceable blades that's pretty cheap. I'd have probably ended up with that, but instead, I took the family to Hobby Lobby to look for wood carving tools. I found exactly the tool I was looking for, but above it was this electric carving kit and after a long discussion in the store, Rob talked me into buying it. Okay, please don't tell him, but he was right. It's like a soldering iron, but with lots of fancy tips.

I gave it a try this morning. My first stencil is going to be the spine of the feathers I'm putting on that log cabin quilt I blogged about last Friday. I've got the back and the batting cut and am ready to pin baste it tomorrow morning, bright and early. If I'm going to use a stencil, I'm going to need it quick to satisfy my manic need to get working on a quilt. If the feathers here go like the last two sets of feathers I've made, I should have this quilt finished lickety-split.

In researching how to cut stencils, I learned that the thinner template plastic is easiest to cut, but tends to warp from the heat of the tool. This thicker sheet that I had on hand worked perfectly, tho. You can see my doodles where I drew a line with an extra find sharpie and then cut it out. I tried almost every tool that came in the kit before I found the combination of tools that worked best. First, I used the blunt tip tool that looks like a little piece of copper to the left of the black iron unit. That gave me a good first pass in the plastic and was very easy to control, much like writing with a pencil. But, because the tip is slightly rounded, the first pass was like a rounded trench instead of a perfect cut. The actual cut through the plastic was only the width of a hair and not thick enough for a pencil lead. So, I took the hot craft knife blade and ran along the edges to clean it up and I came up with a perfectly smooth cut and the original trench shaped cut gave a boundary that kept the hot knife from slipping. I'm looking forward to getting more plastic this afternoon and making the real template tomorrow and am feeling really confident that I can make just about any shape stencil I want.

NYresolution update...

Spend more time with the family - Okay, I spent time with them, but they probably wish I hadn't. I was in the most foul mood all week and am not sure why. Maybe it's because there were no behavior events and I could afford to be in a bad mood because there was nothing to really be in a bad mood about. So, I stomped around with a frown on my face and did my best to keep my mouth shut.

Work on unfinished projects - This quilt I'm getting ready to start is an unfinished project. And, I'm working on an afghan to donate to project Linus that I started...oh, two years ago???

Lose 15 pounds - Okay, I'm down a total of 5. And, really hoping that's not what contributed to my foul mood. It was extremely hard to be in a bad mood and not turn to food for comfort. But, I did it. If I can keep that up, the next 5 pounds should be a breeze. The 5 after that are basically vanity pounds and from what I hear, they're gonna be heck to lose. Good thing I didn't give myself a time limit :-).

Take care and have a great Friday. My work team end of year event is tonight and Rob and I are gonna pull out our cowboy clothes and have dinner with all my co-workers and their significant others. No kids allowed (whoohooo! we do not spend enough time kidless).


Patricia said...

Hi Lane! Found your blog!!!! That log cabin quilt is really nice! Did you use a pattern or create it yourself? I am a "gadget junky" and purchased the same equipment to make my stencils---then I got a longarm and haven't used it. It can also be used when you are doing thread painting on tulle---you cut around thread "painting". Anyway---glad I found you. I will be checking in often!


Sunshine said...

Awesome, DIY stencils - I don't own any because they're waaaay too expensive (and I'm also lazy and don't want to spend time marking quilts and then removing the marks, hahaha! I'm of the man-on-gallopping-horse-persuasion... except when it comes to corners ;) not cut-off points, urgh!

I had to laugh out loud about your possibly unwelcome-family time in your foul mood, good description :)

And I actually find that I now turn to quilting during downers instead of chocolate and other food. Also, if I have a shitty day, I always feel like buying a fat quarter to brighten my day!


Shirleymac said...

Wow Lane, I've always wanted to make my own stencils but wasn't quite sure about it. It looks like so much fun. I think knowing there's an Olfa cutter now I'd go for that, I'm not good with hot things.

By the way Jan 17 was the day we get to throw out all of our resolutions *LOL* Five pounds is great. Try carrying around a 5lb weight, doesn't take long to see what the difference can be to your body. Also the slower you lose it the more certain you can be that it will stay off. Quick loss diets don't work. Eating smart and healthy and 1/2 hour of exercise a day (I need to practise what I preach) will do it for you and keep it off.