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So my first attempt at freezer paper stencils was a laughable disaster. You see I’ve been on a stencil making roll lately. Most recently I did a tutorial on making reusable stencils.
Both of those stencils went off without a hitch.
And then I decided to stencil fabric with freezer paper.
I’ve been wanting to make some tea towels, and I need to make some for gifts. (who else is Christmas crafting already?)
But I know with the use and abuse kitchen towels get, heat transfer vinyl (HTV) will not look good for long. Even if they are ‘for decoration only’ there’s no doubt a kid will grab one to clean up a spill.
So my solution…. to paint custom tea towels that will last. I mean how hard can it be right? Ha! Let’s just say you can learn from my mistakes.
Once I got it down though, they turned out perfect and now I can’t stop making them. Tea towels for everyone on my Christmas list.!
I made this towel for me because this is what I always tell my kiddos. Don’t you just love the fonts?
This tutorial will work for Cricut or any cutting machines. You can even cut the freezer paper by hand with an Exacto knife.
Plus you can use freezer paper stencils for t-shirts and any other fabric you want to stencil.
So let’s get to it.
This post is brought to you by fontbundles.net where you can score Ah-mazing prices on fonts with bundle deals. All thoughts, ideas, opinions, and screw-ups are my own.
Freezer Paper Stencils Supplies Needed
- Freezer Paper
- A way to cut your stencil. (I use the Cricut Explore)
- Fabric to Stencil (I am making these Flour Sack Tea Towels (super price too!)
- Heat Transfer Tape (you can totally reuse the transfer sheets you pull off of Heat Transfer Vinyl too)
- Paint (I use SeaPaint, totally love their colors)
- Stencil Brushes
- Awesome fonts for your design (I love grabbing a bunch of fonts cheap at fontbundles.net)
- Fun Kitchen SVG Designs -if making Tea Towels (I made a free set you can grab in my resource library, more details at the bottom of this post.)
How To Cut Freezer Paper Stencils
As I mentioned I use my Cricut to cut the stencils. This method will work for other cutting machines also. And if you’re loaded with patience you can cut them by hand with an Exacto knife.
I also reused one of my heat transfer vinyl sheets for the freezer paper. (you know the top sheet you pull off after you’ve pressed on the vinyl? Yes, save those!) You can totally find them on Amazon here if you don’t have any.
So the first thing you want to do after your design is ready is to mirror the image on your cutting mat. I kept forgetting to mirror my image. It’s a good thing freezer paper is cheap!
We’re going to pretend we’re working with HTV even though it’s freezer paper.
Now for your cutting mat, lay down the heat transfer tape/sheet down first. sticky side up.
It’s not the easiest thing to see in a picture but it’s there, sticky side up. Make sure the heat transfer sheet is as big or bigger than your freezer paper.
Next, cut your freezer paper slightly larger than your design. If you are also making the tea towels your design area is about 8″x12″.
Place the freezer paper shiny side up on top of the heat transfer tape. Shiny side up.
That was one of my first fails. Shiny side needs to be up!
Use your scraper tool to smooth down the freezer paper and remove any bubbles.
On Cricut set your cut dial to custom and choose ‘wax paper’ from the menu.
After your design is cut remove the HTV sheet with the freezer paper still attached to it from your cut mat.
The best way to do this is flip your mat upside down and peel the cut mat off of your design. This will keep the freezer paper from crinkling.
Weeding your design
When you’re ready to weed, remember we’re making a stencil. So you want to pull out the letters (be sure to leave the centers of your A’s and e’s etc.)
Don’t you just love the font Tonight’s Menu is done in? I think it’s perfect for kitchen towels and signs. It’s called Jamish and it’s part of the Fantastic Font Bundle over on fontbundles.net.
All of the fonts I’m using came from that bundle. You can score 20 awesome font families for less than a buck each AND they all come with a commercial license (*happy dance)
Applying the Freezer Paper Stencil to Fabric
After the weeding is done we’re ready to transfer the freezer paper stencil to your fabric.
Make sure you pre-wash and iron the fabric you will be stenciling on for best results.
If you’re making tea towels it’s helpful to fold the towel first. And make sure the top of your design is at the fold. I made my first one upside down. (told you I made a lot of mistakes lol)
The spatula in this design is part of my kitchen SVG set that is available in my resource library.
And the fonts for eat it or starve are in the same family called ‘Lick a Candy’ It’s also part of the super affordable Fantastic Font Bundle on fontbundles.net. ( did I mention it’s a steal of a deal?)
So now you want to place your stencil on your fabric. The shiny side of the freezer paper will be touching the fabric and your heat transfer tape will be on top.
Next use an iron (no steam) or your Easy Press to apply heat to your stencil.
I set my easy press at 310 degrees and only left it on the freezer paper for about 5 seconds on each section. You just need long enough to melt the plastic coating on the freezer paper so it bonds to your fabric.
You can pull up the heat transfer sheet to test the bond. If it’s not completely bonded simply lay the heat transfer sheet back down and apply heat for a few more seconds.
Painting with Freezer Paper Stencils
So now that your freezer paper stencil is bonded to your fabric we’re ready to paint!
A huge mistake I made was painting this like a vinyl stencil. I just grabbed my brush and used back and forth strokes to apply the paint.
Bleed city. Don’t do that.
Even though the freezer paper stencil bonds well to the fabric, you need to use a stencil brush or a sponge and paint it like you would a reusable stencil.
So grab a flat stencil brush (or sponge) and dab the paint on.
**Be sure to place a piece of cardboard under the fabric you are painting. The paint will bleed through to the other layers of your fabric. (ask me how I know)
I don’t think it’s necessary to use a paint specifically for fabric but you can.
I mean if you’ve ever painted anything and got paint on your clothes you know it never comes out. Never ever.
I use SeaPaint for everything. One it dries so stinkin fast I can get projects done in a snap and two I love their colors. Plus it didn’t end up super stiff, it flexes nicely with the fabric and it’s survived many washings.
Here’s an ombre painted towel I did for my mom. We had a smaller kitchen growing up. When we invaded her cooking space she would tell us the kitchen was only big enough for one butt to be in at a time. And it’s been called the one butt kitchen ever since.
Pulling off the Freezer Stencil
After your paint is dry you can pull off the stencil paper. It is much easier than pulling off a vinyl stencil.
You don’t need any special tools to get it back off, it just comes right up. I didn’t notice any sticky residue on the towel either. This is the towel I made for my daughter.
She is 14 and just finding her passion for cooking. But at 14 she is still scatterbrained enough to forget she’s cooking.
I was inspired by the fonts in The Fantastic Font Bundle to make her this towel.
The font is Intellecta Typewriter and it fits perfectly.
And the flames are also part of my kitchen SVG file.
Freezer Paper Stencils FAQ’s
Can freezer paper stencils be reused? –No they are a one time use, but freezer paper is fairly cheap.
Can I use Wax Paper instead of Freezer Paper? -No wax paper is coated on both sides so when you apply heat it will bond to your heat transfer tape or iron also.
What font is that? I listed the fonts under most pictures. The fonts I used in this project are called Jamish, Lick a Candy, and Intellecta Typewriter. They are all part of the Fantastic Font Bundle (with 17 more amazing fonts!) that you can grab dirt cheap for a limited time on fontbundles.net
How do I use fonts with Cricut? I have a whole post on uploading fonts, plus more text tips and tutorials for Cricut design space here.
Do I have to use heat transfer tape for freezer paper stencils? You wouldn’t have to if you are cutting the freezer paper by hand, or if you had a simple design. But if you are using letters and a cut mat for Cricut or Silhouette it will be a pain in the butt/near impossible without it.
Can’t I just use HTV / iron on vinyl? Yes you can, but after multiple washings HTV starts to fade, crack and look like crap. Paint will last a lot longer (and it’s more fun too!)
Can I use freezer paper stencils on t-shirts and bags? Absolutely! Freezer paper stencils will bond to other fabrics, the possibilities are endless!
Where can I get your Kitchen SVG set? I made an SVG set that will be perfect for adding design elements to your tea towels. Here’s everything in the set.
I keep all of my files and printables in a FREE Resource library that I made available to subscribers to my weekly newsletter.
To get exclusive access and join the DIY tribe simply fill out the form below.
That covers just about everything you need to know about freezer paper stencils. I will warn you they become addicting to make!