In summer, my husband is nearly inseparable from his barbecue tongs. If it was socially acceptable (and not so pokey) to cuddle with culinary utensils, I think he would sleep with them. For his father’s day gift, I stenciled a set of cloth napkins and a barbecue apron for him. I chose graphics reminiscent of signs posted at barbecue pits at the state beach that I found in the dingbats section over at dafont (free to download for personal use).

The best part of this project is that the images look like pro silk-screening, but they are made simply from stencils cut from a vinyl report cover. The freezer paper method of stenciling has similar results, but using the vinyl folder allows you to put the painstakingly cut stencil to use over and over again. A repositionable glue stick keeps the stencil in place while you paint, and then peels off neatly.

The paint is inexpensive, easy-to-find acrylic craft paint. You could mix it with a textile medium to use it on fabric, or you can spritz the painted fabric with vinegar and water (see below) and heat set.

I also made him this t-shirt with a tent symbol, because that’s where he’ll be sleeping if he brings those greasy tongs to bed. Nah! Because camping is his second favorite part of summer!

What You Need:

vinyl report cover

printed images

craft knife

re-positionable glue stick

cloth napkin, apron, t-shirt of whatever fabric you want to print

acrylic craft paint

foam stencil brush

spray bottle


vinegar and water

What To Do:

1. Print out images. I found mine in the dingbats category at dafont— I LOVE that site and can’t spend less than an hour there. For the best results, choose big, chunky, simple graphics, unless you’re a whiz with the craft knife, more intricate patterns will take a long time to cut. This particular font is called Symbolix.

2. Apply glue to the back of each image.

3. Smooth the paper firmly onto the folder piece.

4. Working on a self-healing mat, or an old magazine, cut out all of the black areas with the craft knife.

5. Discard all of the black areas of the image and peel the paper from the folder pieces. The pieces that remain correspond to the white portions of the image.

6. Working on a sheet of wax paper, apply re-positionable glue to the back of each piece of the graphic.

7. Press the pieces firmly onto the fabric.

8. Squirt some acrylic craft  paint on a piece of wax paper and dip a foam stencil brush into the paint. Blot the brush a few times on the wax paper to remove excess paint.

9. Press the paint onto the exposed fabric within the boundaries of the stencil. Use only an up and down motion to prevent paint from seeping under the edges of each vinyl piece.

10. Once the entire graphic is painted, peel the stencil from the fabric. Rinse the stencil, dry and repeat. One stencil can be used over and over. 11. Allow the paint to dry completely. Once it is dry, mix a solution that is one part white vinegar, one part water in a spray bottle. Spritz the painted graphic with the vinegar solution.

12. While the fabric is wet with the vinegar and water solution, heat set the paint with an iron. If you are a more conscientious person than I am, use a press cloth. The paint will transform from feeling crusty and stiff on top of the fabric to being more flexible and fused into the fibers.