How to Freezer Paper Stencil (with kid art!).



Ages ago I told you I'd share a tutorial for how to turn artwork into a tee shirt. And then I spaced it. For oh, I don't know. A year. Sorry!

The tutorial below is edited from an article I wrote for the Saponifier Magazine last year. Since it is a soapmaker's publication, I chose to demonstrate with my soap company logo. But we used the exact process on Lupine's "fairy queen" above. It was Pete's favorite drawing from when she was two and we made the shirt for him for father's day. Sage also made one (but it is in the wash so you don't get to see it.) Found Sage's! Added the truck picture above. At seven Sage cut his own screen so if you trust your child with an X-acto knife it is a big-kid friendly project too.



How to Freezer Paper Stencil

Freezer paper stenciling is a simple way to create an imprint of any simple illustration or text. And it is easier than you many think. You probably have most of what you need on hand already. So go and gather your supplies, and let's get started. The only time consuming part is cutting your stencil (you can reuse them up to three times). If keep your design simple and you can quickly make several shirts or tote bags in an evening.

A Note on Supplies: Most supplies (with the exception of fabric paint) can be found at your local hardware or grocery store. Freezer paper is not the same thing as waxed paper. Freezer paper is a thick white paper used for wrapping meat. It is plain paper on one side and has a thin plastic coating on the other. The plastic coating is the magic part that will adhere to fabric and peel off with ease. As for your shirts, check your own closet before you go shopping. A button down shirt, a tee-shirt, a tote bag or a denim jacket are all great options for this project. You can even screen over some prints. Clothing with a small stain is a great candidate for this project – just place your silk screen to hide the spot! 

Materials and Equipment:

  • Freezer Paper
  • Craft knife (X-acto or comparable)
  • Pencil
  • Iron
  • Acrylic paint and textile medium (or fabric paint) – Textile medium available through craft stores
  • Cutting mat or cardboard
  • Shirt



Create your Stencil

In the example above I began with a computer print out of my company name and part of my logo. For the shirt we made for Pete from Lupine's drawing I took her art and photocopied it, then enlarged it to size. Choose a simple image because you'll be cutting out anything that you want to print and tinly lines can be cumbersome.


Tear off a suitably sized piece of freezer paper. Place the freezer paper coated side down over your illustration. Using a pencil, carefully trace the outlines that will become the inked areas on your shirt.

With your craft knife cut carefully along your pencil lines. Be sure to use a sharp blade and cut on top of a cutting mat or board. If your blade begins to resist the paper replace it with a new one to avoid tearing your stencil.


Set aside any small pieces that you'll need to use during the project. (For example, the inside of a letter "O" or a central piece of your illustration.) I set aside parts of three letters, the duck's body, and the duck's beak.


Attach your Stencil to your Shirt

After your freezer paper stencil has been cut out, trim away some of the excess around your design. This will allow for easier placement on your shirt. Attach to fabric using an iron set to cotton blend (no steam). Center carefully and iron in appropriate location on your shirt with the coated (plastic) side down. Do not slide the iron around or you may tear your stencil. Instead gently place and press with the iron until all areas are well adhered. Carefully place the smaller floating objects and iron into place using the point of your iron. You may want tweezers to place accurately.




Insert a piece of cardboard or a thick pad of newspaper into your shirt. Paint your stencil using fabric paints or a blend of textile medium and acrylic paint. I prefer the textile medium and acrylic paint menthod because I can custom blend paint to match my project. Blend more paint than you think you will need.

Using a small, stiff-bristled brush paint your shirt using a stamping motion with the bristles (rather than a swiping motion which can cause paint to sneak under the edges of your stencil). Continue to stamp paint throughout all exposed areas on your stencil. Touch up areas where the paint looks too thick or too thin and strive for even coverage. The fabric should have a solid coating of paint but not a visibly thick layer. A second coat is a great idea if you want a professional looking shirt.


Allow your shirt to dry completely and then remove stencil. If you are in a hurry you can speed up the drying process with a hair dryer. Iron for 30 seconds to set ink, and wear.


It's that easy! This project is ideal for shirts and bags or wall hangings of sweet kid art. But they sky is the limit. What can you imagine?



13 thoughts on “How to Freezer Paper Stencil (with kid art!).

  1. Katja says:

    I want to try this! When ironing to set the paint, what setting do you use? Same as before, cotton, no steam? Do you place iron directly on top of painted areas, or do you iron on inside of fabric? Thanks!

  2. says:

    You can also cut freezer paper to regular paper size(8.5×11) and send it though your printer. Just make sure it prints on the non-shiney side. 🙂

  3. says:

    I bookmarked a similar project ages ago and meant to help the kids make a shirt for Father’s Day, but just didn’t get around to it. Christmas? This is such a great idea! And I already have the freezer paper. I’m always putting projects on hold!

  4. Amber says:

    Hey there. This sounds like great fun for my six year old son. We have a few environmental sensitivities and allergies, so I’m wondering if the plastic gives off any noticeable odor when heated with the iron?
    Thank you so much for such simple, detailed instructions. 🙂

  5. Rachel Wolf says:

    I dont recall a strong smell, but I recall a bit of a smell. What about ironing it outside or in the basement, then bringing it in when it is cool? There is no smell once it cools.

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