There are oodles of tutorials online about how to stencil fabric with freezer paper. They all look fabulous and give you an easy way to personalise tshirts, baby onesies, bags … the list is endless.
Alas, there have been many frustrating hours spent hunting for freezer paper in New Zealand, only to find it both rare and ridiculously expensive. Would you believe that what sells for $4 in the US has sold for as much as $24 here?! That makes me feel ill.
But, despair no more, my loyal Offsquare friends (I know you’ve all been kept awake each night wondering how you’ll ever do a freezer paper stencil without paying for airfares to the US first … or is that just me?), I have the answer you’ve all been looking for. Plus, it’s thrifty AND upcycled!
The wrapper from photocopy paper is a perfect alternative to freezer paper when stencilling. That’s right! The moisture-proof wrapping that encases each ream of printing/photocopy paper. Any local office or printing store will be throwing away copious amounts each day, so just ask around.
The advantage to doing this type of stencil vs non-iron on versions is this seals the stencil to the fabric and stops movement or the paint from bleeding.
Materials: Photocopy paper wrapper (try to get one that is just waxy on one side. Some have it on both sides and it’ll stick to your iron!), fabric paint, an iron, pen, strip of cardboard (the end of a piece of packaging is perfect), a craft knife, item to print onto
Cost: Paint – $3.50 for a bottle
Tips: Stencils don’t allow the fine lines that screenprinting does, so try lettering or block images to begin with. This type of stencil can only be used once. Also, the paint I used gave a thick, glossy finish and was a little tricky to get an even finish (but it stretches with the knit fabric, which is pretty cool). Semco also have a textile medium you can add to their acrylic paints instead if you prefer a thinner product. Just apply your paints with a paint brush or sponge.
Draw your design onto the white, non-glossy side of the moisture-proof paper. Cut out the area you want to paint using the craft knife.
Place your stencil glossy side down onto the item for printing. On the other side of your fabric, place another piece of the moisture-proof paper (so if you are printing a tshirt, place this on the inside of the shirt) glossy side up. This creates a fabric sandwich: paper, fabric, paper. The bottom layer will stop the paint from bleeding, giving you a nice, crisp image and also prevent any paint from staining the back of the tshirt or the surface you are working on.
Using a hot iron (a smidge down from the hottest setting and don’t use steam!), press the stencil until all edges are firmly fixed. Check that the bottom layer is fixed too and if not, gently turn the item over and press.
Apply the paint to your stencil. In order to get an even finish, use the strip of cardboard to smooth the paint over the stencil.
Take your time here to get a finish you’re happy with. Leave it to set overnight.
Carefully remove the stencil, holding the fabric down as you go to avoid cracking and seal the paint according to instructions on the bottle.