DIY Shirt Tutorial: Freezer Paper and Fabric Paint

I made this shirt for my son to wear at his second birthday construction party using freezer paper, fabric paint, an iron, and love.

diy shirt with freezer paper and fabric paint

Since we had been practicing holding up two fingers when he says, “I’m two”, I thought it would be a cute way to celebrate his new age.  Of course, it’s also the gesture for “peace” which the hippie in me loves.  I’ve made other shirts for him in the past by using iron-on paper, but wanted to try something a little different this time.

How To Make:

1.  So I bought a plain toddler-sized cotton shirt for $3.  I pre-washed it so that any shrinkage that may occur had a chance before I decorated it.

2.  Next, I printed out the correct size graphic I wanted to use on regular computer paper.  I imagine basic outline-type images or letters are best for this project.

3.  I laid freezer paper (NOT wax or parchment paper; they won’t iron well) on top of my printed image and used a thick marker to draw it on the dull side of the freezer paper (shiny side down).  I realize JUST NOW that I probably could have just printed directly onto the freezer paper to skip this step?  Or you artsy folks could hand-draw directly on the freezer paper.  I am glad I traced it though since I was able to make the lines wider than the original image.

4.  I carefully cut out the black space.  I mean the ENTIRE black line, because you want to remove the image from your stencil so that you can paint it on.  Scissors were fine for this design, but you may have to use an exacto knife with cardboard underneath it for others.  You need to save the “insides” and the outer stencil.  Especially if you are doing letters – I found this great post that can show you that since I can’t.

diy shirt with freezer paper stencil cutting out

The outside stencil is laying on the shirt here, and see the black line I’m cutting out in the top right? What you remove will be what you later paint on. Save all those inner pieces of white in tact.

5.  There’s the outer stencil finished and laying on the shirt. See that black space I’m cutting out in the top right. All of those inner white pieces need laid back in place to stencil later.

6.  Laying the shiny side of the freezer paper down, I gently ironed the outside stencil in place.  It sticks in a few seconds with a hot iron.  I used nearby toy blocks to help keep it from moving while ironing.

diy shirt with freezer paper iron on

7.  Then I placed and ironed in all of the inside stencils, piece by piece.

diy shirt with freezer paper inside pieces

8.  It was painting time! I placed a piece of cardboard in between the layers of the shirt in case the paint went through, then used a brush to paint the white fabric paint onto the exposed stencil.  It took quite a few layers until it felt solid enough to me. After your final satisfying layer, carefully peel the freezer paper off while the paint is WET.

diy shirt with freezer paper paint stencil

9.  Let dry according to fabric paint instructions and ta da…your own customized shirt that looks like a screen print.  I washed according to my fabric paint instructions and it came out looking as good as new!  I even had to use stain remover around it to get all of the chocolate cake off, and no harm done.  Pretty exciting technique that I’ll be using again!

diy shirt with freezer paper

Have you used this freezer-paper method before?  Have any questions or suggestions for other DIY shirts I could try?  I’d love to hear from you below!

This is my necessary disclaimer that this blog is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure. I am only a mom with an education background. I must let you know that any essential oils statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. I simply approve for myself and family of such things that I deem safe, effective, and positively life-transformative. I encourage you all to be informed and empowered with your health. Also, some of my posts may contain affiliate links. When you click them, you help me to cover a small portion of the cost of this blog. I appreciate your support so that I can continue to do what I love. Please note that I only ever endorse products that are in alignment with Odds & Evans’ ideals, my personal use, and those I believe would be of value to my readers.

Amanda Evans

I'm a work-at-home mom, passionate about holistic health and natural living/parenting. I am a Registered Yoga Teacher and Certified Holistic Life Coach. This nutrition nerd blogs randomly at about clean eating, fitness, homemade product recipes, and other mindful wellness topics.

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