I finally tried creating a freezer paper stenciled shirt, and it was so easy. I’m kicking myself for not trying it earlier. I’ve missed out on making so many cute onesies and tiny t-shirts!
The cool thing about freezer paper is that it’s backed with plastic, which allows you to temporarily adhere it to fabric when you apply a hot, dry iron. It works great for stabilizing fabric for quilting and applique work, but it can also be used to create a fabric stencil.
Here are the steps I used to create a freezer paper stenciled shirt for my son.
Materials: cotton t-shirt or onesie, freezer paper (I used Reynolds, found in the grocery store), small pointy scissors, iron, piece of cardboard, fabric paint, stencil brush, Q-tips
First decide on your design. I sketched out my design on a piece of paper, cut it out and then traced it onto the freezer paper.
If you’re a more confident artist, you can draw directly on the freezer paper. You’ll want to place the freezer paper shiny side down onto your shirt, so keep that in mind when orienting your design (especially important if you use words as part of your design).
Cut out the stencil. I used sharp, pointy scissors to poke a hole in the center of my design, and then carefully cut around the outside. I imagine you could use an exact-o knife and cutting mat if you have a more intricate design.
Place your stencil on your shirt (shiny side down); I used a hole punch to create the little circles of freezer paper for the bunny’s eyes. I decided it would be cute to have a bunny peeking out of the pocket since Easter is coming up soon, and my two-year-old loves a good joke. Granted, having the stencil inside the pocket does make things a little trickier. Using a hot, dry iron, adhere the stencil to the shirt, being especially careful that the inside edges are well adhered.
Insert a piece of cardboard inside your shirt to protect the back of the shirt from any paint soaking through. Follow the directions on your particular brand of fabric paint, and pounce the paint onto the shirt inside the stencil.
Just like any stencil, use an up and down motion rather than any sweeping motions to try to avoid any paint seeping under the stencil. The freezer paper works well, but with knit fabrics especially, there are lots of channels for the paint to find its way through. I found Q-tips worked well for getting into some of the smaller sections of my stencil. Don’t oversaturate the shirt with paint. Put on just a little at a time. The only spots I got fuzzy edges are areas where I had applied too much paint.
I pulled my stencil off just a few minutes after I’d finished.
I also added some footprints to the shirt. I used two different sized hole punches to create the tiny holes.
Follow the drying and washing instructions on your paint. Just think of all the fun personalized shirts you can make!