Friday, July 23, 2010

Freezer paper stenciling: a no-sew project with tutorial

How to use freezer paper stenciling on a shirt

The freezer paper stenciling continues!! I really love this method of embellishment and when that happens, I can't seem to stop myself. So, why fight it right? After I made the Ray Ban sunglasses shirt, I got inspired to make matching onesies for my daughter and her cousin, Avalene so they can match when we visit for Labor Day in September.

I went to Wal-Mart and bought onesies for $2.00 each and used an image that I enlarged from as my stencil. Let me pause and say if you haven't checked out this website, go there now and sign up! Membership is free for the basic version, and the program allows you to edit and add fun stickers and text to your photos. In this case, I found this really cute butterfly pattern that looks great on the onesies.

The greatest part about this craft is you only need a handful of inexpensive supplies to personalize your own t-shirts, pants, pillows, etc., and there's no sewing required so anyone can do it! So, how do you do it? I'm glad you asked.

You need:
  • Freezer paper. You can usually find a giant roll of Reynolds freezer paper at your local grocery store - I got mine for $5.50 at Wal-Mart. If your grocery store doesn't carry freezer paper, you can order it many places online. Just use good ol' Google.
  • Fabric paint. I use Tulip matte fabric paint. Don't get the dimensional stuff unless you want the item you're painting to have a "puffy" look to it. The matte fabric paint dries flat, and it's about $4.00 for a 4 oz. bottle at your local craft store.
  • A stencil, for example clip art. You can make your own stencil by printing out text and clip art from Word, or you can use any picture really. Again, I used an image and text I created on
  • An X-Acto knife. This is used to cut out your image or text.
  • An iron. Used to iron your freezer paper stencil on.
  • The item you want to paint. In my case, I wanted to stencil a t-shirt for a little girl's birthday coming up.
  • Embellishments (optional). This is anything extra you might want to decorate your item with like rhinestones, ric rac, fabric, etc.
Step 1:
Find an image you like and trace it onto the paper side of the freezer paper. You'll notice the freezer paper has a glossy side and a paper side. Make sure you're tracing the image onto the correct side; the glossy side is what will be ironed down onto your shirt later. If you find it hard to trace, tape your image to a window, then place the freezer paper on top and trace.

Step 2:
Cut out your image/text with your X-Acto knife, making sure to save any extra pieces that will have to be ironed on as well (in my case the piece inside the "P" in princess and the little pieces inside the letter "e's"). Line up and iron image onto your shirt glossy side down, making sure your stencil is ironed on securely with no gaps where paint could leak.
Important: Iron another piece of freezer paper on the inside of your shirt opposite of the image to avoid paint leaks.

Step 3:
Paint over your stencil, making sure to paint from the outside of the stencil in so you're not jamming extra paint under the creases and making it smudge. I used a sponge brush and dabbed the paint on pretty liberally. If you're concerned about the paint not being thick enough, paint a second coat on top an hour or so after you paint the first coat.
Follow the drying instructions on your fabric paint bottle (mine said to lay flat and let dry 4 hours.) Don't get excited and peel the freezer paper off before the 4 hours are up or your paint will smear....I may or may not be speaking from experience here...

Step 4:
After the drying time is up, peel away your stencil and admire your amazing work of art. Add embellishments using fabric glue if you want, I added rhinestones because every little girl loves jewels on her clothes. If I start bedazzling everything I own, please stop me....

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