how-to: freezer paper photo stencil

I have had a few people ask about the “prints” on grandpa’s beer bag, so I thought I’d write out the steps. There is a good post on Angry Chicken about this. The only difference between her method and mine is that I used a photo and skipped a step by printing the photo directly onto freezer paper. Also, I advise using both the inside and the outside of the cut-out so that you can make two stencils with the same cut-out. I tend to need things spelled out to me, so my instructions will do just that. I should also mention that I didn’t take photos every step of the way, so this isn’t a full-blown photo tutorial.


Step 1: Select a photo that will have an interesting silhouette. This is the one I chose:


Step 2: Cut out a piece of freezer paper so that it will fit in your printer. For me, this was a standard 8.5 x 11 inch sheet.

Step 3: Print your photo on the non-waxy side of the freezer paper. I had to hold the freezer paper in the paper feeder because the freezer paper was curling up. With a little fiddling, it worked out fine.

Step 4: Use an exacto knife to cut along the silhouette. Save both the inside and the outside of the cut-out. This way you can make two different designs using two different fabrics.

Step 5: Choose two pieces of fabric that suit your needs. Cut two pieces of freezer paper the same size as your fabric pieces. Now, adhere those two pieces of freezer paper (not the silhouette cut-outs!) to the back of the fabric so that when you begin painting, the paint won’t bleed through. You do this by placing the waxy side of the freezer paper so that it is facing the wrong side of your fabric and iron it on. Don’t use steam. Iron long enough so that the paper is stuck to the fabric.

Step 6: Flip your pieces of fabric over so that the right side of the fabric is facing up. Place your freezer paper cut-out pieces on top of each piece of fabric. Make sure that the waxy side of the paper is touching the fabric. You will really do a number on your iron if you have the waxy side facing up. I came pretty close. Iron the freezer paper onto the fabric.


Step 7: Use fabric paint to cover the fabric that is not concealed by the cut-outs. I sort of dabbed it on when I was close to the edges. (I used Pebeo fabric paint that I found at an art supply store in town.) I used opaque paint because I used darker fabrics. There is also transparent paint for ligher fabrics.


Step 8: Let the paint dry, then peel off the freezer paper. Heat set, using instructions from the fabric paint manufacturer.

Does that make any sense? Give it a try and let me know how it turns out. And if my instructions are horrible, let me know that too, so that I can fix ’em up. I know I wrote this in my original post about this project, but I thinks it’s worth mentioning again that the pattern for the tote comes from JC Handmade. If you try this technique, please consider adding a photo of your finished product into my flickr group.


9 thoughts on “how-to: freezer paper photo stencil

  1. Hey, thanks for your comment on my berlin photos, i loved it there so much, it’s such a cool city. these instructions are great, i bought some freezer paper recently and it’s just been sitting in the cupboard but now i am so trying this out on the weekend if i get a chance, i’ll let you know how it goes.

  2. Pingback: Sew,Mama,Sew! Blog » » Create & Celebrate

  3. that is so much easier than trying to find actual stencils!!! i just did some last night the hard way. i never thought of this… for some reason i had it in my head that it had to be a stencil duh!!!

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