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Next in Garden Flag-Making: Rit Dyes and Stencils

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Susan Harris
on January 29, 2016 at 8:00 am, in the category Designs, Tricks, and Schemes.

17 Comments

    • Lori
    • 16th July 2016

    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!

    • rachel
    • 6th November 2016

    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
    • 8th November 2016

    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
    • 5th December 2016

    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.

    • Evelyn Hadden
    • 7th December 2016

    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.

    • admin
    • 8th December 2016

    Well, my next batch will be using permanent dyes (Procion) so I’ll fall back on that if this first batch fades quickly. But yes, a winter ritual?

    • skr
    • 9th December 2016

    I was wondering. Let us know how the rit holds up.

    • Pat Evans
    • 9th December 2016

    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.

    • admin
    • 9th December 2016

    Now you’ve inspired me to do some research and maybe post photos to help ID the year exactly. My parents bought it for me used in 1964, I believe. THe case in particular looks antique.

    • admin
    • 9th December 2016

    Found it! http://www.ebay.com/bhp/singer-301 IT’s from 1954, but not vintage enough to be worth much. Ebay has them from about $100-350.

    • KathyG
    • 10th December 2016

    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!

    • Susan Harris
    • 10th December 2016

    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.

    • Kim
    • 10th December 2016

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

    • Susan Harris
    • 10th December 2016

    Let’s see. I used Royal Blue, Purple and Black in various combinations and various intensities. The pink came from red cabbage, as described in an earlier post.

    • Kim
    • 10th December 2016

    Thanks, I really don’t have an eye for color so this will help get me started.

    • Susan Harris
    • 10th December 2016

    I used this: https://www.ritstudio.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/ColorRit_FINAL.pdf and tried dyeing one flag each in about 12 different combinations of those 3 colors, then dyed more with my favorites.

    • Ellen
    • 11th December 2016

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

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