This is one of those crafts that once you have the materials and know the technique, you’ll want to do again and again. Back in December I created some really cute Disney themed t-shirts for my family to wear on our Walt Disney World vacation. I was silly in waiting until the LAST WEEK before we left to get started on this project. I so wish I had started earlier, because once I saw how the shirts turned out… I wanted to make one for each day of our trip! Anyways, I’ve been meaning to blog about how to use freezer paper stencils in this way and it just kept getting pushed to the back burner until I saw Lisa Truesdell’s instagram pic of a Disney themed tee she made with freezer paper stencils and BLEACH! Her shirt turned out so cool that I asked her if we could do a little blog hop between us. She’s sharing how to use bleach with freezer paper stencils and I’m sharing how to use fabric paint. So, be sure to check out Lisa’s post as well!
This project is super easy to complete with the Silhouette because your stencil will be cut for you in a flash. However, if you don’t have a Silhouette you can still complete this project by printing out your design and then using an exacto knife to cut out the stencil (stack the printed paper over your freezer paper and cut out both layers). Here’s the other supplies you’ll need:
I was all out of foam brushes when I worked on today’s sample, so I just cut a piece off an unused kitchen sponge. (I think the foam brushes work better through!) The freezer paper is in the aluminum foil, saran wrap section of the grocery store. I had a little bit of a hard time finding it, but finally hit the jackpot at Walmart. This is a BIG roll of freezer paper… I should be set for a LONG time. The fabric paint I used is Soft Matte by Tulip in black and in white. For today’s project I mixed them together to make grey. There are lots of brands of fabric paint out there. (Silhouette even has their own in a rainbow of colors!) This one worked well for me (and was easy to find at my craft store) and has washed really well over many washes. I found some t-shirts at Michael’s, some at Joann’s, and some at Walmart. It was hard to find a big range of sizes all in the same color! Next time, I’ll order online well in advance for better color options and sizes!
To create your stencil using the Silhouette, first you need to find an image to trace. I let each child pick their favorite Disney character and used that on their shirts. The adult shirts were Mickey, Minnie, the castle, Aurora, and Tink. For all of the characters, I tried to find jpegs or png files that would be one piece when cut. I didn’t have time to be fussy with piecing together the stencil once it was cut out! So, you just google “Minnie silhouette” or “Stitch silhouette” and then select images. You should see a whole lot of options pop up. Look for designs that aren’t too small of a file size for the best cut. TIP: To find silhouettes that are all one piece when cut, try googling “minnie pumpkin carving pattern.” I found that there are a bunch of these pumpkin carving patterns out there that are great to use because they are made for cutting out and keeping the stencil as one whole piece. Once you find a design you like, save it to your computer.
In the Silhouette software, open up the design you saved. It will look like this:
Then select the trace tool, click “select trace area” and drag your cursor over the design you want to trace. I usually then uncheck the high filter pass option in the trace winder and then play with the threshold slider until everything looks nice and smooth. See below. Then click “trace.”
You can then drag the black image you traced off the mat or delete it. You’ll be left with your new cut file! Resize it to fit your shirt and you’re ready to cut! Position the freezer paper on the cutting mat so that the shiny side is facing DOWN. For my machine, I found that using the “plain paper” preset cutting option worked perfectly, with the blade set at 2. I think I also slowed the speed down a little to avoid tears in the freezer paper. But experiment with what works best on your machine and blade.
Once your design is cut out, you need to iron the stencil part of it onto the shirt. This is basically the “negative” portion of the die cut. When ironing, be sure the shiny side is facing the shirt and that you turn the steam OFF. If your stencil ends up being more than one piece (like mine below), you’ll need to assemble it as you iron. (That’s why the one piece designs are easier and faster!) Once your stencil is ironed on, slide a piece of cardboard or plastic in between the t-shirt layers (front and back). This will prevent paint from soaking through to the back of your shirt!
Take the fabric paint and begin stenciling! Remember to use an up and down motion, rather than a back and forth one. Also, start with less paint than you would think. Too much paint will bleed a little under the stencil edge. I found it best to do one full coat, then go back and fill in the areas that were a little spotty.
Let your t-shirt dry for a bit before trying to lift off the stencil. I know it’s hard to wait! And when you take it off… voila! These were some of the adult shirts I made.
Like I said, if I’d had more time I would have made a shirt for each kid to wear each day of our trip. First, they are just cute and make for nice photo ops! Second, matching color shirts make it MUCH easier to keep track of the kids in crowds. And third, it makes for an extra magical experience when the child’s favorite character sees himself/herself… in this case, itself… on the child’s homemade shirt. Stitch spotted Connor waiting in line and pulled him over into his greeting area. He made a big fuss over him and his shirt (also picked his nose and messed his hair, but hey.. it’s Stitch!) and it was just so fun. Definitely a favorite Disney moment.
Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out Lisa’s post on how to use freezer paper stencils with bleach. That one’s next on my list!
(Linked up at The Idea Room!)