How To: Freezer Paper Stencils

Slide2For the second year, I’m a part of a fantasy football league run by Diane of CraftyPod. It’s a fun way to connect with other creative women who also love football. Because I’m first and foremost a Patriots fan, I have a lot of rules for myself. I won’t have any player on my team who’s in the same division as the Patriots, and in any particular week, if one of my players is on the team playing the Patriots, I sit him. I won’t put myself in the position of rooting for a player against my Patriots.

So of course, when the idea was floated of a crafty football blog hop among crafty fantasy football league members, I knew I’d be doing something Patriots related, and I decided to share a tutorial on how to make and use freezer paper stencils. I generally create these stencils from my own designs; I’ve used the Patriots logo here in keeping with the blog hop theme. You cannot use a licensed logo on any item you plan to sell. Honestly, I’m hoping if anybody from the Patriots organization happens upon this tutorial, they see it for what it is (fan devotion) and don’t sue me. I like to think Mr. Kraft has sympathy for the common man…

How To: Freezer Paper Stencils at amyhoodarts.com

Materials: Freezer paper (look in the supermarket in the aisle with foil and plastic wrap); scissors; craft knife; masking tape; source sketch for design; cutting mat; iron; item to be stenciled; fabric paint (see below); paint brush

How To: Freezer Paper Stencil at amyhoodarts.com

Materials for cutting the stencil.

Every stencil begins with a source design drawn on regular paper at the final desired size. I like to measure the paper to fit the item I’m stenciling (in this case a tote bag purchased at the craft store) so I know my design fills the space the way I want it to.

How To: Freezer Paper Stencils at amyhoodarts.com

Source sketch of design, with colors written in for reference.

The next step is to cut a piece of freezer paper a little bigger than your source design so you have plenty of  margin around the edges. Tape your design to your surface so it doesn’t move; tape the freezer paper over it, shiny side down. Trace your image onto the papery side of the freezer paper.

How To: Freezer Paper Stencils at amyhoodarts.com

Now it’s time to cut out your stencil. Be precise and cut only on the lines. I use an x-acto knife for this. If the design has lots of straight edges (like this design that incorporates a star), I’ll use a steel ruler as a guide for those lines. Just make sure you stop right at the intersection of the lines; don’t cut over. You’ll be painting into the open spot, so you want the edges to be as clean as possible.

How To: Freezer Paper Stencils at amyhoodarts.com

Turn the paper as necessary so the cutting motion is as smooth and easy as possible. Avoid awkwardness! This design has two “floating” pieces, the star and the face, which need to be ironed on into the middle of the open area. If your design has floating areas, you need to cut those precisely as well.

How To: Freezer Paper Stencils at amyhoodarts.com

Once the stencil is cut, it’s time to iron it onto your item. The shiny side of the freezer paper will iron onto fabric firmly, yet also peels right off without residue. It’s really amazing stuff. Iron the surface of your item first to make sure it’s free of wrinkles, position your stencil where you want it, and iron away. Pay careful attention to the inside edges, where you’ll be applying paint. You want those firmly affixed so no paint bleeds under them. I usually stencil t-shirts; this is the first time I’ve tried a tote bag, and the surface is a bit more textured. You’ll see below where I didn’t get a few edges as closely adhered as I should have. Live and learn.

Because this design has those floating pieces, after I ironed on the outside piece, I fit the inside piece (which I’ll need later, too) without ironing it down, then placed the floating pieces inside, like puzzle pieces. I kept my finger on them while lifting off the inside piece, then ironed the floaters in place.

How To: Freezer Paper Stencils at amyhoodarts.com

Proper positioning of the floating pieces.

The completely ironed on stencil looks like this for the first paint layer:

How To: Freezer Paper Stencils at amyhoodarts.com

I typically use Speedball Screen Printing Ink for my stencils. I like the smooth look and the basic colors. It’s heat set, and it’s worn on our shirts well, although overly thick layers will crack a bit in the dryer. However, I needed silver for part of this design, and I don’t have that in the screen printing ink, so I used a little liquid acrylic paint as well. This is the kind of acrylic paint sold extremely cheaply in big-box craft stores, and it won’t wash out once it’s dry. It’s great for use on fabric, easy to find, and a fine alternative to screen printing ink for these stencils.

How To: Freezer Paper Stencils at amyhoodarts.com

Materials for painting.

For this first paint application, I’m using red and blue.

How To: Freezer Paper Stencils at amyhoodarts.com

Once those colors are dry, I can peel off all three pieces I’ve ironed on. For the small floating pieces, the edges of which are covered with paint, tweezers are helpful . These colors need to be heat set, so that’s the next step. Follow the directions on whatever paint you’re using.

How To: Freezer Paper Stencils at amyhoodarts.com

Notice the slight bleed in a couple of places on the red stripes and one spot on the blue. I should have ironed a bit more firmly in those spots.

I still need to paint the face silver, however. Remember that other inside piece I said I’d need later? I matched it up to cover the blue paint and ironed it down, again paying attention to those edges. Now I can paint the exposed face silver.

How To: Freezer Paper Stencils at amyhoodarts.com

After letting it dry, I carefully removed the final stencil and put my knitting inside the bag. Ready to watch some football and knit!

How To: Freezer Paper Stencils at amyhoodarts.com

Be sure to visit the rest of the blog hop participants for more crafty football ideas!


15 thoughts on “How To: Freezer Paper Stencils

  1. Diane Gilleland

    Ooh, great techniques for lining up multiple colors! And I love the method you used here to make sure the floating pieces lined up correctly. You’re making me want to stencil some Broncos logos now!

  2. donna lee

    I used to use freezer paper when we got meats from a family member who was a butcher. I’d rewrap things in serving portion sizes (and then plastic freezer bags came along and the paper was history). I had no idea it would adhere to fabric after ironing. That’s brilliant!

  3. Katie @ Yarn Love

    I needed this tutorial last year – this really is ingenious! Last year, I made a huge Broncos logo sign for when I attended a game, but it was traced and painted by hand. It took forever. Your super-cool stencil making would have cut down my time substantially. I’m pinning this for my next NFL game!

    1. amy Post author

      Isn’t it great?! I didn’t come up with the original idea but I absolutely love to use it with my own designs, and my kids have designed their own shirts, too. (Also, jealous you get to go to games!!)

    1. amy Post author

      my kids can use freezer paper stencils, as long as I help with the x-acto knife part. I’m sure you can do it!

  4. RoseRed

    I have a bunch of freezer paper which I bought at a fabric store (you can’t get it in supermarkets here) and have grand plans for birthday t-shirts like the ones you do for G. Thanks for the tutorial!

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