27 December 2013

Glue gun stencils

Did you know you can use your glue gun to create great stencils for use on fabric? Whether you prefer geometric designs or organic shapes, you can have hours of creative fun with this technique.

I first saw this method of making stencils on Traci Bautista’s blog and immediately wanted to try it. Doodling with a hot glue gun appealed to me because I prefer wonky, simple shapes rather than precisely drawn lines. Just as well, because it is quite a challenge to draw meticulous lines with a hot glue gun!

Of course, this tutorial is free for your personal use only. It is not for commercial use. Please do not copy my instructions and photos.

You will need:

  • Hot glue gun – choose a glue gun that takes glue sticks the thickness you want for your stencils
  • Plenty of glue sticks
  • Wooden board (I used a bread board)
  • Baking paper

Safety note:
Before starting, read the manufacturer’s instructions on the hot glue gun label. A hot glue gun melts sticks of solid glue. These sticks are thermoplastics, which are plastics that melt and can be reshaped when they are heated. You should always use them in a well-ventilated room or outside so that the glue vapours are dissipated. Consider wearing a mask if necessary.

Keep the hot glue gun away from flammable materials and don’t lay it on its side while hot. Use the metal safety stand to hold the hot glue gun when you are not using it to glue items. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions at all times.


  •  Insert a glue stick in the hot glue gun and turn on the gun.
  • Tear off a piece of baking paper and place it on the wooden board.
  • When the glue gun is ready (it usually takes about five minutes to heat up), draw shapes on the baking paper. I find that it is best to hold the point of the gun slightly above the paper as I move it. You may have to practise a few shapes before you get used to drawing a shape while applying the correct pressure to the gun’s trigger.
  • To create a successful stencil, you need to draw shapes that have crossing lines. You can see in this photo that I have made sure that all the pieces of the stencil join.
  •  If your lines are too thin, go back over them with more glue. It is important to have lines that are thick enough to later peel off the baking paper.
  • If you find it difficult to use the glue gun to make the shapes you want, try drawing your shapes on a piece of photocopy paper. Place the drawing under the baking paper and then trace the shapes with the glue gun.
  • Place the baking paper aside and wait until the glue sets.
  • Carefully peel the glue stencil off the baking paper. If there are any fine ‘strings’ of glue that you don’t want on your stencil, carefully remove them with scissors.
  • Use the stencil on fabric with fabric paint to create patterns on cloth. The stencil is fragile, so take care when placing or lifting it. Paint will easily wash off the glue stencils once they are removed.
Here are three more of the stencils I made with my glue gun. Enjoy creating your own hot glue gun shapes!

I enjoyed creating patterns on fabric with my hot glue gun stencils. Here are a few samples.

Hand-dyed base fabric with diluted shimmer jet-black Setacolor opaque fabric paint sprayed over the stencil.

Hand-dyed base fabric with diluted shimmer jet-black Setacolor opaque fabric paint sprayed over the stencil.

Sun dyed with violet and grevillea Sun Dyes fabric paint and stencil.

Sun dyed with sky Sun Dyes fabric paint and stencil. I also used the stencil to cut a shape from a piece of painted fusible webbing and fused it to the fabric.

Visit my blog again tomorrow to see what I have created with one of these fabric pieces!


  1. Anonymous9:44 pm

    I spy some possible tree decorations for next Christmas ... if I either find the glue gun now, or put a note on top of the top box of decorations in the cupboard so I remember in time for next Christmas!

  2. Anonymous4:58 pm

    Hi there. interesting prints! I like it seems to have a 3d look to it
    I'm looking to get a glossy black paint -I wanted to know if your jet black is very shiny? I saw a few photos online, and I thought it looked like a dark blue? There's a plain black too, that seems to be more of a gray

    1. Hi velouterais. My paint is called jet-black on the label but came out as a very dark grey, with a metallic shimmer. It's not glossy.


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