Tutorial: Freezer Paper Stencil

I am currently obsessed with stenciling. And not just any stenciling – freezer paper stenciling. If you Google it you’ll find a whole bunch of different tutorials and ways to do it. Well, I’m adding mine to the mix. This is the best way that I have found to do these stencils. Let me know if you do yours differently!

What is freezer paper?

Freezer paper (I get the Reynold’s brand) has one waxy size and one non-waxy side. This means you can iron the waxy side on to fabric which makes a pretty tight seal for you to paint over with fabric paint.


  • Freezer paper
  • Iron
  • Pen or pencil
  • Fabric paint (I use Tulip brand fabric paint – the Soft Matte one is great)
  • Sponge brush
  • Exacto knife
  • Self-healing mat
  • Fabric


Step one: find a design you like online or draw your own – I did some rough sketches of birds for this project. Place your design under the freezer paper (NOTE – make sure you have the waxy side DOWN for this part) and trace your design onto the freezer paper.

Step two: carefully cut out the design with the exacto knife on your self-healing mat. It’s easiest if you start with a solid design before moving to more intricate designs or letters.

Step three: iron your freezer paper to your fabric. You can see mine turned a little brown here, that’s because my iron was really hot. It’s OK if the paper turns brown, just try not to burn down your house!  You will also need to iron a second piece of freezer paper just bigger than the size of your design to the other side of the fabric. This stops bleeding and if you are working on something like a t-shirt it prevents the fabric paint from oozing to the back. As a side note, if you are working on a t-shirt you may want to put a piece of cardboard between the front and the back of the shirt just to be extra sure you don’t get any paint transfer.

Step four: squeeze out some fabric paint into a dish (use one you want to throw away – this is an old tea cup saucer I had kicking around, so I used it because I was all out of plastic plates).

Step five: get a SMALL amount of paint on your brush and gently dab the paint onto your stencil. Make sure you aren’t globbing on too much paint as this can lead to bleeding.

Step six: allow the paint to dry completely. You can let it air dry or use a hair dryer if you are impatient. Remove the freezer paper from the front and the back of the fabric to reveal your design. NOTE – I recommend removing the front freezer paper first. That way if you had some bleeding and want to do a little touch up your back piece is still in place. Don’t fret if you did get some bleeding, it just means one of two things: you didn’t iron the freezer paper down well enough or you globbed on too much paint. I think the bleeding adds character and makes it look even more homemade – embrace the uniqueness!

Step seven: complete your project (in this case it was a few pillows – stay tuned for that tutorial!).

Please make sure to follow the directions on the fabric paint for heat setting (if necessary) and washing.

I have used this technique to make t-shirts, pillows, to personalize baby onsies and tote bags. It’s really fun and super easy to do! Give it a try and let me know what you think. Here are a few of the things I have made (excuse the Photobooth photos – when I made these my camera was on the fritz!)

A onsie with a tie that I made for a baby shower gift
A shirt I made for my sister's stagette - it worked, she got a lot of drinks!

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