Ok, I am just going to come out and admit it, I have gone overboard with this post, spent way too much time playing with stencils when I should have been doing 'proper work', but I just can't help myself, I just want to print on All. The. Things.
I started playing around with stencil designs when I was designing the #121 Ringer Raglan pattern for One Thimble Issue 20 (which is currently in the digital stands over at One Thimble. The theme for the photoshoot was a retro summer vibe and I couldn't help but have visions of 1970's and 80's ringer style t-shirts printed on the front with sunsets and palm trees, throw in a matching binding and your there.
But you can use freezer paper stencils to customise pretty much anything.
For this post I have a quick tutorial on how to do it, the products I use, and some free stencils for you to download so read on for way to many pictures of ideas and inspiration :)
How to do it
Freezer paper stencilling, If you haven't tried it before, be prepared as it can be addictive. Here's how it works:
1. Print out your stencils (email me at email@example.com and I will send them over) and then trace them on to your freezer paper.
If you are in US, I believe that freezer paper is something that is available in the supermarket; in Australia it is only used for crafting (not actually freezing things) so you need to grab yourself some at a craft store, or online.
Freezer paper has a shiny side and a matt side. Trace your design onto the matt side, and then cut out the areas that you want to print with a craft knife.
2. Next, position your design onto your fabric with the shiny side down and use your iron (with no steam) to press your freezer paper onto your fabric. Pay particular attention to the edges of your design. The freezer paper will stick firmly but you will be able to peel it off later.
Use a fabric paint to paint in the cut out areas of your design. If you are painting on a t-shirt make sure you put a piece of paper or card between the layers to prevent the paint from bleeding through to the back of the t-shirt.
My favourite fabric paint is the DecoArt SoSoft fabric paints because they are inexpensive, you don't have to heat set them and they wash really well. But I have also used regular acrylic paints mixed with a fabric medium, and fabric markers with this technique with great success. You just need to follow the instructions that go with your chosen paint.
3. When your paint is dry (I hurry mine up with a hair dryer), you can peel off your stencil to reveal your design. For this one I have used the palm trees stencil over the top of the sun stencil. To do this use the same technique as before; after the sun is dry and the stencil removed, just press the palm tree stencil over the top of the dry paint, then paint in the stencil and allow to dry.
4. After you remove your palm tree stencil your design will be finished.
For the example below, I have used a slightly different technique. Since the different colours in the design touch each other, I traced the design 3 times and then cut one colour out of each copy.
Using the same technique for painting as the first example I just applied and painted each stencil one at a time, waiting for the paint to dry and then removing the stencil before applying the next one.
I love how this one turned out.
I couldn't help myself but work up a couple of different colour options for the stencils...
I have also included a mini version of each of the designs so that you can use them for different applications (apart from a t-shirt that is). The example below is the #122 Retro Romper pattern, but I think this size would also be great on a polo shirt.
Lastly, this is what my husband has requested :)
Thanks for reading all the way to the end, if you have a go at freezer paper stencilling, I would love to see, so be sure to grab some pics and hashtag them #threadfaction
These are great! I’ve bought some freezer paper and am keen to try my hand at customising some t-shirts. I can’t seem to download the stencils using the link above. Could you please point me in the right direction?
I’ve heard, but not yet tried it myself, that you “can” print your designs with an ink jet printer. Then you don’t have to draw it by hand!
Thanks for sharing – I love the palm tree design. And I really like all of the color options you showed. Wow!
Love these designs! Thank you!