Well, the Alabama Chanin stencils are all very cool, but also very expensive! The great thing is that a lot of those stencils are available as free downloads on her website! I downloaded the Anna's garden stencil and took it to Kinkos to have it printed since it is quite large. I could not find stencil film locally on a roll, so I bought a package of 12 X 18 sheets.
I laid the pattern down on my cutting table and taped a stencil sheet over it. I used a Sharpie pen and traced the design. Since my pattern is bigger than the sheet, I had to alter the design a little to make it fit on the edges. The other thing is that this is a forgiving pattern, so it doesn't matter if the tracing is exact or not.
I overlapped the next stencil sheet over the first and decided where to split / overlap the designs. I also had to shorten the design on the opposite edge since it was still larger than my two sheets.
The first obstacle was that it says to cut over a sheet of glass. Well, I don't have any sheets of glass that I'm willing to give up for this, but I did find an extra floor tile in the garage. I think this will work perfectly.
My original trepidation over cutting this stencil was the idea of using an exacto knife to do this. I have bad arthritis in my hands and knew that it would not only be painful, but that I also might not be able to do it carefully enough. When I was in hobby lobby the other day I saw a heat tool for cutting stencils.I decided to give it a shot.
Well, I am getting better with the heat tool, but I am still not happy with the results. The heat tends to melt the plastic beyond where you want. The edges are rough and sometimes curl up or warp. I tried heating it with the hair dryer and put something heavy on it to make it flatter. This helped. You can see the difference below where I cut one stencil with the heat tool and started the other with an exacto knife. The knife gives a much better, cleaner cut.
|cut with xacto knife|
|cut with heat tool|
I've done some looking around on the internet, and I'm thinking it may be due to the template material that I used. I'm going to try ordering some different types of template film and see if that makes a difference, It certainly is easier and faster to use the heat tool, but the knife gives a much better result.