Freezer paper stencils


We had a momentous occasion this past weekend – our boys’ first camping experience! Hopefully, the first of many more such memorable trips. We had a great time. The campground was awesome (a state park), the lake was perfect for swimming with young children, the mountain views were amazing, the weather was perfect, and we went camping with some good friends and their boys, so the company was also stellar.

Since I have been wanting to try freezer paper stencils for awhile, I used the occasion to make matching bear shirts for all of the boys. I picked up various navy blue shirts in the required sizes for about $2.75-$3 each from Target and Walmart. Per Laura’s recent, similar crafting endeavors (her freezer paper tutorial is here), I also picked up some Tulip “soft” paint and some of the round stencil painting brushes. And the Reynolds Freezer Paper was already in my cupboard!

First, I found a good stencil online, this one from Karen’s Whimsy.

I copied the digital image and just pasted it into a Word document and then enlarged it to the size that I wanted and printed that out. Then, I traced the image onto the dull side of the freezer paper. My image was kind of detailed, with the hair, etc., so it took a little while to cut out. I used my embroidery scissors, and it probably took about 10 minutes to cut out. I was hoping to use the stencil more than once, but they kept tearing when I removed them, so I had to cut out four separate stencils. I’m not sure if you could re-use the stencil if the image was simpler or not.


Make sure you place some newspaper or another piece of freezer paper on the inside of your shirt so the paint doesn’t bleed through onto the back of the shirt! I cut out the stencil, placed the freezer paper stencil onto my shirt with the wax side down, and pressed it with a warm iron for about 10-15 seconds. I made sure that all the little edges adhered well, and then it was ready to paint! I used white paint, and it took two coats to create a nice image.

ETA: Also make sure you pre-wash your shirts to ensure they don’t shrink significantly after you’ve completed your project. This is actually a great project for an old shirt with a stain on the front! What’s old is new again!

After one coat:

After two coats:

Once it dried (according to the paint directions, it said 4 hours), I peeled off the paper and voila! Very, cute t-shirts for all the boys!


I haven’t yet washed them, but the paint doesn’t say you need to do anything to set the image. I might dry them first in my dryer for 15 minutes, just to be safe. And I will wash them inside out, and by themselves the first time. The boys have already put in requests for some new designs!

ETA: Washed the bear shirts and they turned out great. No bleeding or running of paint. I just washed them inside out on cold with similar colored clothes.

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5 Responses

  1. Those turned out great! It’s fun, isn’t it? I have already washed mine several times, inside out. I just threw them in with all the other colored clothes on warm cycle and then into the dryer. I had prewashed the shirts, of course. Anyway, they look great even after being washed.

  2. They turned out incredible! What a perfect pattern for your camping trip. You didn’t mention…did you run into any bears?!! Add another idea to my list of “must dos”! Thanks for all your great ideas!

  3. Nope! Thank goodness, no bears! Last year on vacation in NH, we had a mama bear and her cubs walk through our backyard. Cool, but also scary!

  4. I recently made some more of these for our 2009 camping trip (moose this time). The Tulip soft paint said on the bottle that you needed to hold a steaming iron about 2 inches above the painted image for about 10 seconds. But it didn’t say why or what would happen. So I tried it. It puffed up the paint. So, now we have three dimensional moose. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but it still looks cool. These bear shirts still look good after a year. The paint is a little bit cracked, but all the boys still love to wear them.

  5. […] can see my original tutorial for the freezer paper stenciled shirts from 2008, here.  Once again, we went back to the exact same campsites.  Awesome sites.  And this year we had […]

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