Monday, May 11, 2009

Freezer Paper Stenciling Tutorial

It's likely that if you're reading this, you were either there for the freezer paper stenciling of 2 weekends ago, or you already have read tons of blog entries on the how-to's of freezer stenciling. So now that we're agreed, let's not call this a formal tutorial, but rather some more show and tell, and thoughts on the process.

You see, freezer paper stenciling has been buzzing around me (and everyone else) as a project idea for some time, and I just never had gotten around to it. In fact I had grand ideas of doing all manner of printmaking these last few months, not just baby projects but making "real" prints. I wanted to really dig in while I have the relative quiet and the steady sleep pattern to enjoy.

Well, certainly I could say something about the 'best laid plans'. But instead let's just say it that it took this baby party to get me actually making stuff, and for that I'm glad. Cause after stenciling for the baby, I found that I was still feeling pretty stencil-happy, and so decided to make a gift for a friend. And I hope this is just the beginning of my embellishing days cause this whole freezer paper stencil thing, in case you haven't seen it done before, is relatively pain free and straight forward.

Here's what you'll need:
You start by drawing your design with a pencil onto the non glossy side of the freezer paper. (Make sure you measure the size of the freezer paper against what your printing on to make sure it will fit!)

Using your cutting board and Exact-o knife, carefully cut out your design in detail. You'll be keeping the negative image and throwing out the positive (unless you use that later for a reverse design, but more on that another time.)
If not all the shapes connect, it's okay- you can iron them into place later:

(as I did here, with the bird eye and the inside blocks of the endless knot.)

Go ahead and iron your cut out, negative design onto your fabric. The glossy side of the freezer paper should be directly against the fabric, and it's a good idea to iron some extra pieces of freezer paper on to block out areas in case you cut your design too close the the edge. This will help prevent those potentially infuriating stray paint marks!

Once you're ironed on, you can use your fabric paint and stencil brushes to tap paint into the open areas. Before you start though- put either extra freezer paper, wax paper or cardboard between any layers of fabric to prevent bleeding.

I found it was best to hold the stencil up to a window every now and again to make sure enough paint saturated the fabric. Otherwise your stencil will look blotchy and not quite filled in.

Once dry (and do wait till it's dry; it's as agonizing as waiting for fresh bread to cool- but otherwise you might smear it), peel off the freezer paper and VOILA! You have your basic stencil design! Depending on the fabric paint you're using, you may have to set the design with some quick ironing at this point. The directions on the paint will let you know if that's necessary.

I decided that my design needed a little something extra at this point, so I took a thin brush and added some hand drawn detail on top with white paint. The alterations you could make are pretty limitless.


Nancy Topolski delicately perched said...

This is the first I have heard of Freezer paper stenciling! I like it. I use contact paper on t-shirts and it works pretty good too. I just found your blog while surfing, its great! How did you get that wonderful Jason Tennant Crow? I am live in Rochester. I love his work and I know his mother as well.

ale balanzario said...

Very good and interesting tutorial, I also never heard of Freeser paper stenciling, I should try it.


Alyssa said...

You are the darndest freezer paper stenciler I've ever seen.

I'm a heck of a lucky gal to have a friend as talented as you, increasing the beauty in my world...

Sew It To Me said...


This ias a great tutorial on freezer paper stenciling. We would love to feature it on our New Sew Saturday next week during our special "All About fabric" week.

But we do need permission first. Please email us at if it is okay to pull one photo and we would only link to your original post.


Eva & Vanessa
Sew It To Me

Rachel said...

Thanks for the great tutorial!