Stencil Day

Two weeks ago, I offered to teach the parents in our Attachment Parenting Craft Group how to create freezer paper stencils.

We started with graphics I downloaded from Stencilry; another source is Microsoft Clip Art.

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Jennifer had great success tracing cookie cutter animals and cutting out the image with scissors; she made nine shirts with her older son after trying unsuccessfully to get an image cutout with my dull Exacto knife blade.

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Freezer Paper is coated on one side, and plain paper on the other. It is available in most grocery stores.

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Tools of the trade: freezer paper, a wide sponge brush, and fabric paint. Versatex is sold at art supplies store as a silk screen ink; Artist and Craftsman Supply in the u-district sells a 4 oz bottle for $4.49. The ink is very thick, creating a nice opaque finish on a dark shirt, just be careful that it is applied in a smooth, even layer. Neopaque by Jacquard is a fabric acrylic; I found this 2.25 oz jar at Pacific Fabricsfor $4.99. It has a very thin, watery consistency, which seeped under the edges of my stencil, and dripped on the t-shirt when I tried to pour it onto my sponge brush; I wouldn’t recommend it, though if it is the only thing available, it will do the job. SoSoft by DecoArt had the best consistency of the three, though I had to apply several coats to get the coverage I wanted. The squeeze bottle made it easy for little hands to use, without risking a large spill. It cost about $1.50 for a 1 oz bottle at JoAnn Fabrics.

If you are just getting started, I would recommend SoSoft because you can get several colors with little upfront investment to see if you enjoy the process. Don’t forget to pick up some new blades for your Exacto knife while you are out.

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Alden chose a fish, which Rima traced and then cut out with the Exacto knife; Alina stayed close to her mom offering moral support and encouragement.

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When the design was cut out, Alden ironed the freezer paper to his mom’s shirt, and then ironed the negative to a piece of fabric. Make sure the iron is really hot, to ensure a firm seal on the inside edges.

He used a wide paint brush to move the ink around after squeezing it out of the bottle. We hung the shirts up to dry, and then two weeks later, peeled off the freezer paper. The ink should dry in less than eight hours, though the directions specify 24 hours. Fabric paints need to be heat set, so run the hot iron over them after you have peeled away the paper.

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Rima said she has the perfect shirt in mind for the fabric patch, and her well-love shirt just got a little brighter.

My apologies to any faithful readers who have seen bits of this process repeated on previous posts. A new mom to our group asked today if all of the info was in one place, and I realized I didn’t really have it collected in a single post. There you are Paola! You are ready to go!

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2 Responses to “Stencil Day”


  1. 1 kristin Tuesday, May 8, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    this is SO helpful!! thank you!! i’ve had my freezer paper in the closet for a year now and have just started using it for finger painting!!! because i shied away from going for the stencils. too afraid of ruining a perfectly good t-shirt i imagine :) you’ve encouraged me to have a go at it! :)

  2. 2 Emily Thursday, March 13, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    I’m so glad you did this all in one post – I have been looking for some detailed instructions.. and your’s are great! Thanks! I’m thinking about doing this with my girl scout troop…


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