Freezer Paper Stenciling- Father’s Day gift for the uber-procrastinator

My (heart belongs to) Daddy

First, I apologize for not getting this post up in time for anyone else (except the uber-procrastinators :)  ) to try it for Father’s Day.  Sometimes I forget that everything takes x5 longer with kids…

I’d run across the idea of freezer paper stenciling, and had added it to my “someday” list on my website as a cool activity to try.  When I was trying to come up with something to do for Father’s day presents, ran across an idea for a T-shirt done with the kids handprints, and I was inspired to combine the two.  Hmm: trite, dated, required to wear, probably made with offensive color combinations? Perfect Father’s Day present!


– T-shirts (if new, recommend prewashing- and confirm size- see my post script…)

-Fabric Paint (I’d read you can find “Textile Medium” to add to acrylic paint to turn it into fabric paint.  I couldn’t find it. I found cheap fabric paint at WalMart-primary colors, white, & Neon Green (Br’s FAVORITE!) and mixed to get additional colors- hey, extension lesson on color mixing!)

-freezer paper

-exacto knife

-cutting mat ( or extra cardboard)


-masking tape


I’d read somewhere you could print on the freezer paper, so I cut some of the freezer paper down to 8 1/2″by 11″ to fit in my printer.* I made a graphic of what I wanted to print (in Mountain Cow’s Printing Press Extreme, which I LOVE even though my version is about 6 years out of date.  As this project was just words, you could probably just use a word processing program).  Make sure you put your paper in so you print on the “matte” side of the freezer paper.

*Voice of experience: the paper curled, so my printer couldn’t “find” it in the regular tray.  I was able to get it to feed in the separate tray our printer has in the back for photo paper, etc.

Once I had my graphic printer, it was time to whip out the exacto knife & cutting mat. I taped the stencil down to the mat with masking tape to hold it still.

Cutting out the printed graphic on the freezer paper
Cutting out the printed graphic on the freezer paper- make sure to keep all the "inner bits'- the middle of the "o", etc.!

Voice of Experience: Cut out the interior pieces on the letters first.  Its a lot easier than trying to hold the $@!#$ already cut out letter still…

A lot later than I expected (and with more hand cramping), I had the graphic all cut out.  You may notice I wimped out and didn’t cut out the words “Father’s Day”.  I’m okay with that.

Graphic all cut
Graphic all cut

Place cardboard inside the Tshirt (to keep the paint from seeping through to the back, and to give you something hard to stencil on. Make sure there are no bumps or creases under the stencil). Transfer the freezer paper stencil over to the T-shirt, and carefully place any “interior bits”.  A toothpick might be helpful to assist in positioning the “interior bits” (sweaty fingers- NOT helpful).  Make sure the “shiny” side is down.  Otherwise it will stick to the iron, rather than the T-shirt, and one might have to avoid cursing in front of the children while trying to get the bits off of a hot iron…

I used a “Clover Mini Iron” to iron the stencil on.  A regular iron should work too, but I had it… It was an impulse craft purchase a while back (it was on sale, and I was sure someday I would do something where I mini iron might be handy… Hey, look, I just justified it! It was a few years early Father’s Day-ish present!), but it was actually helpful to make sure I got the “interior bits” ironed in the right spot.

Ironing the stencil with the "mini iron"
Ironing the stencil with the "mini iron"

Make sure you iron well around all edges.  Then get your paint and brush and dab away!  I did multiple thing coats to start, then a thicker coat to finish.  I was going to have Br do this, but he was off doing an errand with Daddy, and I needed drying time.

Painting freezer paper stencil


Painting freezer paper stencil

Once it was painted, I let it sit for a few minutes (while I painted the other ones) and then peeled the stencil off.  I initially tried to peel off the “interior bits” at this point too, but it smudged the paint, so I did it carefully after it was completely dry (it was helpful to bend the Tshirt by the edge of the “bit” to help get my fingernail under, and to carefully peel so I didn’t pull the paint up from the letter).

peeling up the stencil
peeling up the stencil

I had done Br’s handprints before I did the stencil ( and all the other grandkids for “Pop-Pops”), but did Bl’s after the stencil.  Not on purpose.  That was just how it worked with naptimes, etc.  I tried to get the hand prints so they made a “heart” shape, then emphasized it with a heart shape painted inside (some freehand, some stenciled from a heart papercutter).

To do the handprints, I painted their hands using a foam brush with the fabric paint.  With Br I did both hands at the same time, with Bl I did them one at a time.  Hubby suggested dipping their hands on a plate with paint (orange had perpendicular to name), but the coverage wasn’t as complete, and Bl seemed to tolerate the hand painting a lot better (orange hand parallel to name).  I don’t have a picture of that process as I don’t have 8 hands (3 hands would not have been enough).

Finished "Papa Will" shirt
Finished "Papa Will" shirt

And for my hubby, my most inspired/obnoxious of all :) :

My (heart belongs to) Daddy
My (heart belongs to) Daddy

Bad News Post Script:  Turns out T-shirts under $5 don’t always have the most accurate sizing (who knew?).  Pop-Pops shirt was too small, so we will be gathering all 6 grandchildren again sometime this week to remake it…  teach me to go cheap….  After this news, I had “Daddy” try on his.  Good thing Daddy’d been working out lately… wouldn’t have been pretty with “winter weight”. We’ll see about Papa Will’s…

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