How to make a stencil {without an exacto}

Aug 15th, 2012

You are going to LOVE me. Ok, well, maybe you will if you have access to a Silhouette. If you don’t, you will probably hate me because I just figured out how to cut a stencil with this amazing machine!
If you don’t have a Silhouette, it’s ok. It’s my birthday next week. You deserve it for my birthday. I think your husband will agree.
Right now Silhouette is offering a deal {now through the 22nd} with the code “THRIFTY”: You can get:
1 CAMEO, 1 Silhouette scraper, 1 Silhouette hook, 1 Silhouette spatula, and 1 $25 download card for the Silhouette Online Store for $269.99. {That is over $72.00 off!} Click here for the deal. Don’t forget to put in “thrifty” to get the discount.
If you already have a CAMEO, you can get a bundle with 1 Silhouette scraper, 1 Silhouette hook, 1 Silhouette spatula, and 1 $25 download card for $29.99! {this is a SUPER good deal!}
I have been on the hunt for a way to cut stencils automatically since I did my $3.00 stencil project way back when. How to create your own stencil is one of my top 10 projects EVER. But, it took forever to do. I cut the original stencil out of clear folders. They were thick, and I had to push HARD to cut them. I even bought a stencil cutter after that project because it took forever. I’m talking DAYS of cutting, hand cramping and swearing, I mean….uhhhh…teeth grinding.
The stencil cutter didn’t work as well as I wanted it to either. So…..the hunt for an easier way continued.
One day I was fed up. I wanted a stencil and I didn’t want to spend the next 10 hours making it AND I was too cheap to buy one for $40.00. So, I called the local Staples. The guy was pretty funny. He listened to my frustrations and said, “I think binding covers are exactly what you need.” I think I sat there for like 20 seconds as it sunk in. Wait, you have something that will work!?!? He said he would help me find the right product when I got there.
I got to Staples and he didn’t work there. Ha ha. I went to the wrong Staples. Luckily I called the other Staples from across town and he helped me find the correct item anyway.  #Herocks
You need medium weight binding covers. Here is a picture to help you out. For 25 binding covers the cost is only $13.99. Making a StencilThen I found an image in the Silhouette store that would work as a stencil, placed a binding cover on my sticky cutting mat and pressed “cut”.  I adjusted the blade to cut through the binding cover. I think I put the blade setting on 4. silhouetteAfter the machine cut the stencil, I used the Silhouette hook to remove all of the small squares of plastic. 30 seconds later, I had a stencil. It is a gosh, dang miracle.

How to make a stencil Projects 154 . Outdoor patio table
Within the night I stenciled the top of this fun outdoor table {the complete tutorial for this table will be up on the blog tomorrow}. The possibilities are endless. I’m going to be making stencils like CRAZY now.
How to make a stencil
If you are on the fence about buying a Silhouette, I really use mine all the time. I only promote products that I know and love. If you would like to see some of my past Silhouette projects, click HERE.


  1. I really should consider investing in a Silhouette machine.

    Mrs. Delightful

  2. Great tip, Brooke! I was super excited when I realized that I could use old overhead sheets to cut stencils with my Silhouette. So far I've used them for signs and to embellish some handmade cards with a stamped background. I bet binding covers will work even better because they're a bit thicker. It's great to know that I can wipe off the paint or ink and use it again instead of it being a one time use kind of thing.

    Congrats on your epiphany! :)

  3. I do love you…..I have been trying to figure out a way to cut stencils with my Silhouette too, and hadn't thought of binder covers. Great tip, thanks!

  4. i was just wondering the other day how i could make a stencil on my silhouette. i love all of the stencils on those websites but they're too expensive. this will be the perfect solution. thank you!

  5. Hobby Lobby sells 9" X 18" sheets of mylar that fit in a Silhouette machine.
    I wish you could figure out how to make stencil fonts on a Silhouette! Regular fonts lose the middle out of the O's & other letters like that.
    If you discover that…please let us all know!

  6. Thank You! Just got a Silhouette and I have been wanting to make stencils. I tried the vinyl and it was too delicate. I wonder what section of HL the Mylar is sold? I too would LOVE to figure out how to do stencilled lettering for all those cool signs out there rather than using vinyl letters.

  7. First off thank you for the promo code!!! I just bought a CAMEO last week, but was able to buy some fun stuff for it at such a great price thanks to you!!

    Second – THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this tutorial! I just moved and I'm having to do some decorating on a college student's income (which is basically $0)! This will come in handy!

  8. Well I don't hate you because I don't have one but I love you since I now must have one, very very cool and I love the possibilities!

  9. Makes me want this baby…I want it bad.

    Thanks for the info and sharing your fabulous ideas.

  10. It looks like this promo actually ended on the 16th, not the 22nd :(

  11. Brooke @ says:

    No the promo got extended. If you try to use my code and it doesn't work, please let me know because it should work until the 22nd.

  12. Brooke @ says:

    I just e-mailed the folks at Silhouette. So hopefully they will fix this problem ASAP.

  13. Brooke @ says:

    The promo is fixed!

  14. LOVE this idea! I just got my Silhouette last month and I'm still just getting my feet wet with all the fun things I can do with it!!! Thanks for sharing!

    Teapots & What-Nots

  15. I know it's last minute, but would you recommend this bundle? Do I really need those tools? I can't decide if I should wait for another bundle with a vinyl starting kit or something like that. I know, I'm sure I'm over thinking this… :)

  16. Brooke @ says:

    Michael and Emily,
    I definitely would recommend the tools. I use mine all the time. I cut a lot of tiny vinyl projects and without the Silhouette hook, it would be impossible to fish out the design. I hope this helps! You are going to love it!

  17. To make stencils out of your font you need to create "Islands" and "Bridges". You do this by using your knife tool and simply cut a small slice which will create the bridge. You can see my lettering here which I have created for my airbrush tattoos.

  18. Ditto to what The Strawberry Studio said about making stencil fonts — I've done it loads of times!

    Also, for those of you looking for stencil blanks at Hobby Lobby, I searched and searched and finally found them in the scrapbooking area, by the other pre-cut stencils (not over in the art area with those stencils). Hope that helps!

  19. thanks for the tutorial….are the stencil reusable , would i be able to like a whole wall with one stencil and lots of patience

  20. Crystal Sargent @DearBlondie says:

    Will you cut me a stencil…purdy please :)

  21. was wondering if this indeed was possible or if I was going to have to void my warranty to try- YES! thanks

  22. OMG I do love you right now. I found this on Pinterest and I am so excited to try this. Thank you thank you. I have a rug that needs to be stenciled and has been calling my name. Now I can do it for a reasonable price.

  23. Love your stencil….I bought the Silhouette Cameo with the PROMISE from Silhouette that I’d be able to cut tiny stencils. I can’t get the darn thing to do it. If you have any idea, I BEG you (PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE) to let me know. I’m about to throw the darn thing out the window. (Thank you!)

  24. Elizabeth Mayne says:

    Hi I came across your blog via Pinterest. I am a contributing artist for silhouette. Many of my designs lend themselves to be made into stencils. You can find my portfolio of designs under my name Elizabeth Mayne or click on link.

  25. OMG!! I am so crazy in love with you right now!! I’m going to use this idea to cut embossing folders for my Spellbinder’s Wizard!! CHEAP!! With ANY design I want! bwa hahahahahahaha!!!!!

  26. Hi, I pinned this today after the Papermilldirect posted the link.
    I’ve got so many stencil templates for my cameo & tried grafix 0.07 with disappointing results. I’m going to hit Staples as soon as I can but would be very grateful if you could confirm what settings you used (depth, speed & blade) Thanks so much, Sarah

    • Hi Sarah,
      I wish I could remember what I did exactly, but I don’t. I just used the “trial by error” plan until it worked! Good luck with your project!

    • Hi Sarah, Were you able to cut the binding covers and make them into stencils? Could you please tell me the settings that you used to cut them? Thank you for your help.

  27. Hi, I’ve been considering getting the silhouette machine and was wondering will it work to make stencils of entire phrases or sentences. I’d love to do some wood signs or canvases and add my own phrases by making die-cut stencils of them and then painting them on. Does it have this capability?

    • Did you ever get an answer on making stencils for wood signs? I want to do that too. will you share advice you received?

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