Extreme Stenciling on Suede


To wrap up the series on Extreme Stenciling, I want to go back a couple of years to some experiments I did with suede. I met Jayme and Megan from Bella Nonna Design Studio at Quilt Market — and accepted their challenge to see if Paintstik colors could be used on leather and suede.

To make a long story short, Paintstiks and Suede are an amazing combination. When it comes to leather, Paintstiks work beautifully on leather that has an “open” surface, but not on leather than has any type of finish that leaves it shiny. This makes sense when you consider the fact that the paint has to be able to “stick” to the surface of whatever it is you are painting. Without further ado, let’s look at Extreme Stenciling on Suede.

Stenciling On Suede with Plastic Stencils


The first thing to know about suede is that it soaks up a lot of paint. Read that, a LOT of paint. While I would rarely rub Paintstik color into the opening of a plastic stencil, it works for suede due to its porous nature.


After adding color to the stencil opening, scrub the paint into the suede with a Paintstik Brush. Use a circular motion, both clockwise and counterclockwise to create an opaque layer of paint. (Those short-bristled brushes are perfect for working on suede!)

You know the phrase on the shampoo instructions — Rinse and Repeat? This is one time when you need to be patient and do each step several times. Even using the “extreme stenciling” technique, I added multiple layers of paint to the suede to create a nice, bright image.


Does it work? Oh yes! Here is a piece of purple suede with stenciled images from the Celebrate, Snowflakes and Ornaments stencils.

Creating Stripes On Suede


Striped suede, anyone? Why not? It’s easy to create stripes on suede. I found a roll of quarter-inch tape in my sewing cabinet and used it to mask off a series of stripes on my suede. You can make them all the same size, but I wanted a bit of variation.

Press the tape firmly on the suede to make sure it does not lift as you add the paint.


The first step is to add paintstik color directly with the stick.


Next, scrub the Paintstik color into the suede with one of our short-bristle Paintstik brushes.


Then add more paint and smooth it out with your fingers.


After you finish painting, peel the tape off the suede to reveal your beautiful striped suede. And have fun turning it into something really cool.

After You Paint On Suede

There are several questions you are bound to ask about using Paintstik Colors on Suede.

How long will it take the paint to dry? Because it takes a LOT of Paintstik color to get nice, bright images on suede, you need to let the suede cure/dry for at least a week. A film will form over the paint in 2-3 days, but it will take longer to dry. In my experience, the paint was thoroughly dry in 2-3 weeks.

Do I have to wait until it is completely dry to continue with my project? I never waited for the paint to dry completely. (I am much too impatient!) But I did wait 3 or 4 days before turning my painted suede into a cute little bag. That was long enough for a good film to form over the paint. Always test a small area of the painted suede to make sure it will not smear before proceeding with your project.

Do I need to heat set the painted suede? Paintstik color will dry on it’s own on suede. As long as you are not planning to put the final product in the laundry, there is no technical need to heat set the painted suede, but it certainly won’t hurt.

If you choose to heat set, place the suede paint side up on your pressing surface and cover it with a paper towel or absorbent cloth. Over the top of that, add a piece of parchment paper to protect your iron. Press for 15-20 seconds with a dry iron set at Cotton/Linen.

What about starting with Titanium White? Good catch. If you have been reading this series the past two weeks, you will remember that I told you about using Titanium White to create a good base layer for stenciling on dark fabric.

Yes, you can certainly start with a layer of Titanium White, but I would only apply that with a brush. If you add a thick layer of white, it will mix in with your final color and the fine white pigment particles may dull the shine from the iridescent colors.

Is there a good resource for painting on leather? Because I have not worked on leather, I will refer you to someone who knows this topic inside and out. Check out the book Decorate Your Shoes by Annemart Berendse. The book is from AQS Publishing. Annemart’s book does not directly address using Paintstiks, but the section on preparing surfaces for paint is excellent.


I used the following items as I created the samples for this blog post:

Have You Stenciled On Suede?

I wrote my first articles on suede several years ago and I am curious to know if you have experimented with it. Do you have any cool tips to share with your friends in the Community? Leave your comments below or hop over to our Facebook page. Thanks!