Do-it-Yourself – Freezer Paper Stencils

With school right around the corner, you can take some cheap, plain t-shirts and make them more personal by adding a stenciled image to them.  It is SO much easier than it sounds.

Clothing for children can become very costly.  Kids always want clothing with their favorite characters or whatever they are obsessed with at the moment.  Currently my house is obsessed with Pokemon, HighSchool Musical and Thomas the Train.  Keeping all the kids happy can become costly and drive me crazy trying to find the perfect shirt they want.   I have found a great way to keep my kids happy, without spending a fortune.

You can stencil your own shirts, jackets, pants, whatever.  Stencils are readily available online for free, with just a few easy to find supplies and a blank canvas, your clothing can take on a whole new persona.  I have made my kids shirts, jackets and even a set of sheets.  Over Christmas my son only wanted new Pokemon bedding, but it isn’t made anymore.  There isn’t Pokemon fabric easily available either, so I took to the internet and found a few different Pokemon stencils.  He know has a completely unique, original set of Pokemon sheets that all of his friends are jealous of.

So you ready to try it out?  Let’s get started!

Supplies needed are as follows:

  • T-shirt (in this case I’m using my son’s hoodie)
  • Freezer Paper (this can be found with the cling wrap, alumimum foil, etc.)
  • Fabric paints (NOT the puff paint you may be thinking of, you want soft fabric paints)
  • Xacto knife
  • Iron
  • Stencil (readily available online, see below for websites)
  • Something to place between shirt (can be cardboard, a few pieces of paper, newspaper, whatever works)
  • Paint brush (personally I like the sponge-type better than a normal brush)

If your unsure of where to find the perfect stencil, you can check some of these websites:

    1. Now that you have your stencil, you need to transfer it onto the freezer paper.  You want to trace your stencil on the non-shiny side.  The shiny side is covered in wax, which you will need to be free to ink.  I am using a Thomas the Train stencil for my son.

    2. You will now use your Xacto knife to cut out all of the pieces.  Do this carefully, you do not want to tear the freezer paper.

    3. Now you have your stencil ready to go!  Get your iron hot and t-shirt ready.  You are going to place your stencil exactly where you want to place it and iron it in place.  Iron it well enough to make sure it sticks in place and all pieces are stuck to the shirt.

      4. After allowing the fabric to cool down, begin to apply paint in thin layers.  If you apply too much paint at one time, you may notice the paint beginning to leak outside of your stencil.   For a clean look, apply several thin layers, allowing a little time between each for the paint to dry.


      Now we wait.  You need to ensure the paint is dry prior to removing the freezer paper.  The paint bottle says to allow to dry for four hours.  I normally let it sit over night and remove the freezer paper in the morning.  This will ensure your paint is fully dry and will not smudge when you remove it.  In the past I removed the freezer paper shortly after painting and ended up with little paint smudges on my shirt.


    5. To remove the freezer paper, just gently pull it away from the shirt.  This will reveal your new stenciled shirt that your little one is going to love.

It is easier than you thought to make a cute shirt, isn’t it?!  I have made these stenciled shirts for people of all ages, just use your imagination and have fun, you can create anything!

So there you go.  SO simple!  This past winter I made my son a bunch of Minnesota Vikings shirts he could wear to school, since they can only have a 3×3 logo.  It’s hard to find shirts that fit that!  I made a bunch up using this method and the kids were very jealous!  Have fun!


  1. Vanessa says

    Didn’t work for me :/ I definitely put the right side of paper down, I thought it stuck. It didn’t. My shirt is ruined. :/

    • says

      When you iron it the iron has to be VERY hot and you have to iron it for a little while to make sure it sticks. I let mine cool and then gently try to move it to see if it comes up at all. If it does, I re-iron it. I have made dozens and dozens of shirts/jackets/bags like this, so it may take some time to get used to. :)

  2. Angelina Kieley says

    what a great idea!! I can’t wait to make some for my son. But I was wondering where you found thomas?

    • says

      @Angelina, – I’m not sure where I found it…..maybe it was a coloring page? I made this at least 2 years ago…so I can’t remember off hand. If you do a search on google, you might be able to find it. :)

  3. Megan says

    So you just print it on regular printer paper and put a sheet of the freezer paper underneath when you use the xacto knife?

    • says

      @Megan – you have to cut the image out of the freezer paper. I normally print it out, then trace onto the freezer paper…..then I use an xacto knife to cut it out of the freezer paper. :) Make sure it is placed correctly so the wax size of the paper will be touching the fabric.

    • says

      I made shirts a few years ago and they still look great! Just get the fabric paints from the craft store and you’ll be fine. They work like acrylic paint but are made for fabric.

    • says

      No Angela, it is different. It will say Freezer Paper on the box. It is waxy on one side, which is what you use to attach to your clothing for the stencil. :) It’s a big blue box, when you see it you won’t know how you didn’t notice it before.

  4. says

    Did you know you can use acrylic paint with fabric medium added? I make hand print pillows in a classroom for Mothers day each year. I can use the el-cheapo acrylic (or what is on sale!) and I have any color I like. Saves on having to buy bottles of stuff I will never use again. I ALWAYS use up the acrylic! You can find the fabric medium on the same aisle as ModgePodge and glues in Michaels. I’m sure Hobby lobby and JoAnns have it to. Love the stencil tutorial! the wheels are turning now!

  5. cheri smith says

    This is a great Idea… i have used freezer paper before, but didn’t think if this. will have to try it out. I have a reunion coming up and some handmade gifts using this would be perfect :smile:

  6. Melissa Davis says

    You can also use your Cricut to cut the freezer paper stencil :) I have personalized tons of shirts, bags, shoes, etc. this way.

  7. Maggs says

    I started making shirts a while ago using this method and now I sell them to friends and family. Thank you!


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