Designs, Tricks, and Schemes

Next in Garden Flag-Making: Rit Dyes and Stencils

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I last wrote about finding a crafting coach for my garden flags and trying natural dyes from vegetables for my DYI flags. I confessed that next, I’d be trying artificial dyes (the ubiquitous Rit) because they’re easier, cheaper and much longer-lasting.

Best of all, Rit comes in nine colors that make 500 different ones! They even offer Pantone season combo’s for each season. I bought a few in my favorite colors.

I learned how to use them by watching Rit-dye videos – not on Rit’s own site (why not?) but the excellent ones by the Online Fabric Store.

After cutting and dyeing 67 flag-shaped pieces of muslin, I decorated them with stencils.
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Above, two birch-tree-foliage stencils, a paper-plate palette and acrylic craft paints. I’ve stenciled before using a foam roller but couldn’t find mine, so switched to a regular paint brush and it worked fine. These things are pretty foolproof.

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I also already owned a few bird stencils, but I bought the fern stencils above, in two sizes, for this project – what I’m calling prayerless garden flags.

Now for the big reveal – flags-to-be in my favorite colors, with birds, leaves, and even some birch-tree catkins.

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Or even better, a gratuitous extra photo with the very handsome Harry.

Next, my crafting coach showed me how she would sew the flags (with one fold-over, no hems) and I managed to get my 1950s-era Singer working long enough to do the job. After it’s warmed up a bit I’ll have them hung in my front garden where they’ll block my view of a parking lot.

Meanwhile indoors, I’ll next try some totally different techniques to create prayer flags for the back garden. Post to follow.

My GB House

Does stenciling plants indoors count as a garden project?

In late January, you bet it does! So I’m showing you two stenciling projects from four years ago when I first moved into this house.

On the left, Japanese maple stencil over my bed. (Stencils won’t fall on me while I’m sleeping and kill me – an important quality in bedroom decorating.) This one mixes nicely with shadows from a real Japanese maple outside my  bedroom window.

On the right is the aforementioned birch-tree stencil, which came with an assortment of birds, leaves and catkins and now decorates one wall in my living room.

I thank a now-forgotten gardener who stenciled a whole wall with the birch tree from Cutting Edge Stencils and posted a photo on Facebook for this idea. I have no freehand painting skills but found stencils to be unbelievably easy, requiring absolutely no talent and very little care.

Posted by on January 29, 2016 at 8:00 am, in the category Designs, Tricks, and Schemes.
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18 responses to “Next in Garden Flag-Making: Rit Dyes and Stencils”

  1. Lori says:

    I love this idea, and it looks like the flags turned out beautifully. I can’t wait to see how they look in your garden!

  2. rachel says:

    really beautiful, Susan. First you dyed, then stencil? then sew? when you say no hems, does that mean the flags will have ragged edges? (I like that idea myself, and out in the yard they will get ragged anyway.)

    • Susan Harris says:

      Rough edges, except where I folded it over at the top, leaving creating a 2-3 inch loop for rope to be threaded through.

      • skr says:

        It might be easier and cleaner to just use a zipper foot and sew the flags onto the cord. Then you don’t have to deal with threading the pocket.

  3. Love the colors, and the stencils, Susan! I really enjoy working with muslin; it has a soft texture and a nicely crumpled feel to it. When you get them hung, please post a photo. I hope the colors last for awhile — on the other hand, maybe you’ve found a new annual tradition.

  4. Pat Evans says:

    Don’t knock the 1950’s Singer. People pay good money for those vintage sewing machines. There’s quite a market for them now. Can’t wait to see those flags flying.

  5. KathyG says:

    Oh wow. I take a break from blog-reading and almost miss garden flags by Susan! Screech! Skiddddddd. All stop! I want to do this. Must read first post. Need photos on completion!

    for years I have made my own version of Weathergrams, but my ancient bottle of India Ink dried up and I haven’t found a replacement bottle. I moved to a new garden last year and it needs weathergrams! But obviously, now, garden flags too. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Susan Harris says:

      Thanks for the good laugh! And yes, there will be a full report on the results of this project and the next one, which is similar but using permanent dyes and tie-dyeing, not stenciling. More winter fun ahead.

  6. Kim says:

    I love the colors! Just wondering if you would share which Rit colors you used? Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. Ellen says:

    This is such a genius idea, especially for back-fence privacy. Thank you, Susan!

  8. Ellen W. says:

    Harry is indeed very handsome. And a master of sitting on mommy’s craft project to boot!