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Stencil in a snap with Freezer-paper

Stencil in a snap with Freezer-paper


About a dozen years ago, I needed a lift. My life had done a 180 from the future I thought I’d have into an entirely different direction. So what better way to lift one’s spirits than to do a little shopping. But I warn you. If you find yourself in such a change, shop wisely. One thing I bought was a dress. I ended up hating that dress because it was a reminder. I went shopping too soon.

A few months later, I dropped into Williams-Sonoma. They were having some sort of clearance sale. I bought dishes, dish cloths, pot holders, and an apron. This was the right time for me. I used all of those things until they were pretty much worn out. The pot holders actually caught fire on the stove burner. They were tossed when my guy burned his finger by sticking it through the charred hole when he picked up a casserole dish. I eventually sold the dishes when I bought another set. But, for that moment in time, those things gave me a fresh start.

I still have the apron. It’s a sturdy red twill with white toile. Very chic. Apron red cropped

And I’m tired of it, but it won’t die and it still does the job.

I was rambling through Hobby Lobby, as I’m wont to do, when I ran across textile medium. It’s a liquid you can mix with acrylic paints to make them useable as fabric paints. The salesgirl and I began talking about its various uses and she told me about freezer-paper stencils.

So, as I’m wont to do, I went home and tried it out.

I think it works. Since it’s only a week old and I haven’t washed it yet, the jury’s still out on durability, but . . . so far? So good!

Being the good salesgirl she is, she took me to the ready-made aisle where there was a plethora of products just waiting for my newly learned creative craftiness. She showed me bags, t-shirts and totes. There were tennis shoes, hankies, napkins, and towels.

I picked out a black apron. $5. The textile medium was by Delta, and cost $6 for 8 ounces. I had an assortment of acrylic paints, brushes, and some freezer paper at home. I Googled ‘Hobby Lobby coupon’ on my phone and showed the cashier their 40% coupon. The textile medium ended up costing me $3.59.

BTW . . . this coupon is available online everyday. Google it before you shop.

Today, I’m going to teach you how to do this in four easy steps– mostly with stuff you already have. Maybe.

I like directions that are easy to follow. Here is the short list. Following will be more detail.

ONE: Print a pattern you want to stencil on freezer paper

TWO: Cut out pattern in freezer paper

THREE: Iron pattern onto material

FOUR: Paint inside pattern onto fabric & let dry

Okay, that’s the short version. Here are the details so you’ll do it right. Or you can do like me, and just go for it. One, two, three, four. That should be enough info. I’ll just wing it.

But for the rest of you . . .  the smart ones . . . here are the details:

ONE: Google an idea you have in ‘Images.’ I put the word ‘stylized’ in front of whatever I was looking for and found ideas that were a little more modern and sleeker. That’s a consideration, because you’ll be cutting this out later. I first thought of coral, but it had too many branches. I chose this nautilus for my pattern:


April pattern



I simply pasted and saved it on a word doc first. Then, I printed it on regular paper to make sure the size was what I wanted.

TWO: I cut a piece of freezer paper to 8.5 x 11 inches that would fit into my inkjet printer. You want to print on the flat side of the freezer paper, not the shiny. Check how your printer paper normally feeds. You can do this by putting a T (for top) on one end of a piece of paper that’s already in the printer, printing a test sheet and noting how it comes onto the tray.

Lay your freezer paper in the paper feeder tray accordingly. One other note, make sure the freezer paper is very flat. Don’t iron it, but if you cut a piece whose edges are wrinkled or curled, they will jam in your printer. You want a piece that is like regular paper– nice and flat with smooth, even edges.

After you have your pattern printed on the freezer paper you’ll need to cut it out. I have an Exacto knife that would be perfect for this . . .  if I could find it. Which, I couldn’t. As is typical, I used a steak knife and embroidery scissors. Nail scissors would work, too.

Lay the freezer paper pattern on a cutting board, cut the outline with the tip of the knife very carefully, and use the scissors to finish up. It took about 20 minutes for me to do one nautilus.

THREE: You’ll position the pattern, shiny side down onto your material. Here, it’s center ‘dot’ is the center of the bib on my apron:


Apron pattern centered


Then, you’ll iron it with a dry iron. Press, don’t run your iron around. Keep it still so your pattern will be as you want it. The shiny side of the paper will make it stick to your fabric. You can’t use it but once.

FOUR: Mix your preferred color of paints with the Textile Medium. Just follow the directions on the bottle. I wanted a shrimp color. My red was all dried out, so I went with turquoise. I used 4 parts blue to a skimpy 1/4 of 1 part yellow, then added white until it was as light as I wanted. After I had my color, I added the Textile Medium.


Apron paint tools


Take a stencil brush and tap the paint onto the fabric through the stencil. I happened to still have a stencil brush from a project I did about 30 years ago when stenciling early American designs on your walls was a fad. Fortunately, that fad faded, but the brush lasted. If you don’t have a stencil brush, use a Q-tip.

You’ll notice my stencil had thin strips of paper making the joints of the shell. Those were delicate and tended to tear when I removed the paper from the fabric. The simpler your design, the easier. But, it’s not that hard to work with. You can let it dry with the freezer paper still sticking to your fabric or you can pull it off while wet. I pulled mine off while wet with no problem. Some prefer to let it dry first. This is what it looks like newly painted and wet.


Apron wet paint


And this is what it looked like the next day. I let it dry overnight, placed a paper towel on top of the painted side and pressed with a warm iron to set the paint. The bottle of Textile Medium will tell you to do this.


Apron dry close up


This shot above is really up close because I want you to see that it absorbs into the fabric a little. I liked the shadows for this particular design, it gave the shell depth.

On the other hand, for a more matt look, you might want to leave your stencil on the fabric, let it dry and add another coat of paint. In that case, you’ll want to save your paint. Do that by putting your tray of paint in a baggy.

I save meat trays to use for my paint mixing projects. They are free, clean in the dishwasher, a good flat surface with a lip to prevent spills, and can be tossed when I’m done. I saved mine because I’m going to do something else, I just don’t know what, yet.


Apron paint with freezer paper


And finally, this is what it looks like completely finished:


Apron finished in dining room

Photo by Derek




And that’s how your do it. In four . . . endless paragraphs of easy instructions.

(BTW . . . that’s not really me, but a stand-in who’s way older than me with bad hair.)



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