Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Freezer Paper Stencil Tutorial: A is for Apple!

I recently posted some pictures of little man wearing some shirts that I had made for him using freezer paper and I had a reader ask me if I had made a tutorial for it. I realized that I hadn't and thought that freezer paper stencils are just so much fun that I should go ahead and make a tutorial for my readers! This is my first tutorial, so bear with me! (and please let me know if you have any questions or if something isn't clear!) 

Freezer Paper Stencil Tutorial: A is for Apple
  • First you will need an item of clothing to paint your image on. I like to pick t-shirts at thrift stores, clearance t-shirts or pick up packs of boys undershirts for little man when they are on sale or on clearance. any color will do, but I have found that light or bright colors show paint the best.

  • Gather your supplies. You will need Freezer Paper - this can be found at most grocery stores in the plastic wrap/aluminum foil section or on Amazon. You will also need Permanent Fabric Paint (I prefer a matte finish), an exacto knife, a cutting mat and an iron.

  • Choose your image. I have found that simple, less detailed images are easier. Graphic or abstract images can be fun as well or choose something that is a "favorite" of your child's (dinosaur, an animal, flowers, clouds...the possibilities are endless!) . Really your search engine is your friend! You can also create your own patterns. I chose to make little man a shirt with this cute apple on it that I found on the Martha Stewart site!

Here is a link to the PDF

  • Print (or Trace) your image onto the DULL side of the freezer paper. *A little tip if you are printing onto freezer paper using your printer: cut the freezer paper to the size of an 8.5 x 11 piece of printer paper. Then lightly tape the freezer paper to the printer paper. This helps to keep the freezer paper from curling up and getting jammed in your printer. ...which happened to me a lot until I started doing this.*
  • Then you are all set to place the freezer paper on your cutting mat and you can cut out your image. Use your exacto knife to carefully cut out the image. You will be creating a stencil and any extra cuts or slices in the freezer paper allow paint to get underneath the stencil. *Side Note: If your image has additional images inside, like an apple slice, a heart or the inside of a letter like "D", etc., you will need to save those pieces after you have cut them out. They will later be added to the stencil when it is time to iron the freezer paper to your clothing. Think of everything like a negative - anything that's covered with freezer paper will stay the color of the clothing and not get any paint on it and anything that is cut out will become colored with your paint.

  •  Now you can iron your freezer paper stencil onto your piece of clothing. Make sure that the matte side of the freezer paper is facing up and the shiny side of the freezer paper is facing down. I set my iron to the hottest setting before a "steam" setting. You don't want any steam coming out and getting your stencil wet! Also, make sure that you firmly iron over the piece of freezer paper and around all edges of the stencil. You want a nice seal for your stenciled image. If anything, I "over iron", because I would hate to peel off my freezer paper and see that I had missed a spot and paint seeped underneath (which has happened).

  • Protect the other side of your clothing. Don't forget to put a thick piece of paper or something else between the side of the clothing you are painting on and the back. I use a piece of paper bag that is folded in half. It is awful to realize half-way through your project that you forgot this and that you now have a partial mirror image on the back of a shirt! 

  • Time to paint! Using your brush of choice and fabric paints, paint over the stencil with nice, even "dabs" or brush strokes until your desided section is covered with paint. Since I was using multiple colors for the apple, I waited about 2 hours in between painting the different colors. That part is up to your personal preference though. I just felt more comfortable painting a second color after the first was dry. I also only did one coat. If you item of clothing is darker you may need 2 or even 3 coats. I prefer one coat though, because with multiple coats, I feel the paint gets to stiff when it is dry. Again, that is my personal preference though. 

I used FolkArt Fabric paint in Engine Red for the apple, Hauser Green Medium for the leaf and Asphaltum (dark brown) for the seeds and stem.
  • Now for the hard part: Let the paint dry! I usually let little man's shirts dry overnight.
  • Once dry, you can carefully peel back the freezer paper. This is the exciting part - time for the big reveal!


  • The Final Step, that you can't forget, is to iron over your design. All you have to do is place a thin piece of fabric (I used one of hubby's old undershirts that got cut up into a rag) over the design and iron it for about 30 seconds to a minute. The back of your fabric paint bottle with also have more info. I used the same temperature setting to set the paint as I did for sealing the freezer paper to the clothing. I have forgotten in the past and the first time you wash your design it will fade a bit more than is normal.

  • Now you're all done! Time for you or your little one to enjoy their new custom, one of a kind piece of clothing!

I would love to know if you made anything for yourself or your little ones! Not sure how to do one of the steps? Not sure where to find some designs? Please feel free to ask me any questions and I will reply to you here or send you an email, if you prefer. 

Happy Stenciling!


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