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by | 14 Oct, 2020 | Painting, Tutorial

Tutorial – Freezer Paper Stencilled T-Shirt

The next in my Making Marks on Fabric series is a Freezer Paper Stencilled T-Shirt. In this tutorial I show you how to create a stencilled image on a t-shirt using freezer paper. Of course, you can stencil onto any fabric item with this method too.

I created a simple image for a blank pyjama top. We received some cozy pyjama pants in some hand-me-downs from a friend but there was no top with them. We recruited one of my son’s long sleeve t-shirts for the job but it was just going to get sorted back into his ‘tops’ drawer without something to identify it. So, of course, I couldn’t just get a marker and write ‘pyjamas’ inside the collar, could I?

This method uses freezer paper which can be difficult to find in Australia but try specialty sewing and craft stores. I found mine at sewing and quilting store, Hobbysew. It is possible to create a stencil from other materials such as non-adhesive paper (specific stencil paper is available from art stores). Even book covering Contact paper works. Being able to adhere your stencil to your project does make it a whole lot easier. You’ll create a clean image with his method. Freezer paper does a great job.


  • Blank t-shirt
  • Freezer paper
  • Computer & printer (optional)
  • Craft knife
  • Iron
  • Fabric paints
  • Newspaper or a piece of cardboard
  • Sponge or stencil brush


Prepare your artwork

You will likely want to prepare your artwork with some kind of computer software. However, it is entirely possible to draw directly onto freezer paper so if you want to work free-hand, go for it!

Keep in mind that you will be cutting the shapes in your artwork by hand so simple is easier. I have seen the most intricate of paper cut stencils though so if time and patience allow, try something a bit (or a lot) more complicated.

Also, be aware of the pesky ‘cutouts’ in letters and shapes. They can be positioned and adhered to your project but the more there are the more fiddly your project will be.

Create your stencil

Cut a piece of freezer paper to size to fit your design and to go through your printer. In my case I trimmed my paper to approximately A4 size.

Feed the freezer paper into the printer (I use the rear feed function) and print your artwork directly onto the paper (non-shiny) side freezer paper.

Using a sharp blade, carefully cut out your design with a craft knife.

Adhere your stencil to your t-shirt

At your ironing board, position your design on your t-shirt with the plastic (shiny) side of the freezer paper downward, facing the fabric. With the iron on a hot temperature suitable for the fabric, press the stencil onto the t-shirt with downward pressure. Do not slide the iron around on the stencil as this may catch the edges of your cut design and crease or tear them.

adhering freezer paper stencil to t-shirt

Apply fabric paint to your t-shirt

When your stencil is firmly adhered to your t-shirt, slip a piece of newspaper or cardboard inside the t-shirt under where the stencil is positioned. This will stop any fabric paint from penetrating through to the reverse of your shirt.

Lay the shirt on a flat surface and apply the fabric paint to the stencil with a sponge or stencil brush using a downward dabbing motion over the entire area of the stencil. Different colours can be used in different areas of the stencil and you can also blend colours together like I have. Apply the paint generously so as to get a dense image but do not leave pools of paint in the stencil which may bleed when the stencil is removed. 

stencilling with freezer paper on a t-shirt

Remove the stencil

When you are satisfied with your paint application, gently remove the stencil from the t-shirt by peeling the paper away from the fabric. Discard the stencil.

freezer paper stencilled t-shirt

Dry and set your fabric paint

Allow the fabric paint to dry completely. Set the fabric paint following the manufacturer’s instructions, usually by applying heat for a few minutes.

Once set, the t-shirt is ready to wash and wear!

What boring, plain item can you improve with stencilling? Create your own freezer paper stencilled t-shirt!

freezer paper stencilled t-shirt pinterest image