I've been wanting to try this DIY freezer paper screen printing technique on a t-shirt for quite a while. I first heard about freezer paper stencils when one of my friends used the technique to make her ward's girls camp shirts last summer. She asked me to make the design, then she used it to paint all of the girls' shirts. They turned out amazing! When I saw toddler shirts on clearance at Old Navy for 1.99 this week, I decided to try out the technique for myself. This is the same design I made for the girls camp shirts, just resized to fit perfectly on your favorite little person's t-shirt. A free download of the design in toddler and adult size can be found at the end of this post. I've included the free stencil because the freezer paper stencil technique is so easy, I want everyone to try it out:)
A t-shirt (or tote bag, or onesie...)
freezer paper (can be found by the aluminum foil and plastic wrap at the grocery store)
x-acto knife (or silhouette cutter, if available)
fabric paint (or fabric medium + acrylic paint)
First, print out the stencil design and trace it onto the freezer paper (you could even print onto the freezer paper if you tape it to a piece of card stock). Make sure the shiny side of the freezer paper is down. Then you will cut out the design using an x-acto knife. Be sure to cut out on a cutting mat, cutting board, or even a piece of cardboard. You won't need to save the cut out letters, but don't toss out the inside of your o's, l's, and e's (you'll need them to make your stencil). If using a silhouette cutter, here's a simple tutorial for cutting freezer paper.
Next, iron the stencil onto your shirt. I set the iron to the cotton setting and then held it for about 30 seconds over each part of the stencil until the whole thing was stuck to the shirt. For me, it was easier to iron the whole big piece first, then go back and out in the inside pieces of the letters (the centers of the l's, e's, and o's) and iron then on second. It made it easier to make sure they were in the right spots and stayed there once I put the iron on them. Does that make sense? *please comment if anything becomes too confusing
Next, place a piece of cardboard (just a little bigger than your design) inside the shirt. This will keep the fabric paint from going through to the back of your shirt. Use the foam brush to dab the fabric paint onto the shirt/stencil. Dabbing will help prevent the paint from leaking under the stencil. Paint at least two coats.
I pulled the stencil off while the paint was still wet, but waiting until it's dry is fine too. After the paint is completely dry (usually a few hours), run a warm iron over the design to help the paint set. This will help prevent the paint from coming off when you wash your shirt.
And now you're a professional t-shirt maker!
Your stencil is reusable if you are careful with it. Below is the free download for the "ello love" stencil seen in this tutorial. Have you ever made a freezer paper stencil t-shirt before? leave me a link in the comments -I'd love to see them!
Click below to download: