Friday, 22 October 2010

Swallow Stencil Shirt

So we went on Holiday (oh yes! it was a Holiday, not a mere holiday), to the Greek Islands. To give you some idea I give you this picture
 I know, I know.
Anyway, we came home to a quite chilly (!understatement!) England and I thought I was about ready to start some of the tutorials that I'd like to share and perhaps craft a few Christmas presents.
However, dh had other ideas and (by cooking one of his finest dinners ever) convinced me to spend some inspiration on one of his plain white work shirts. (Secretly, I was pleased to try out the freezer paper technique for stenciling on fabric after the awesome examples I've seen online, so there wasn't even a hint of bargaining :) ) .
Of course we're still relaxed and playful from holiday so the photo taking became a bit of an event.
I warned you!

 I like it. It's weirdly country and a bit stark but I'm thinking that makes it interesting. And work shirts are so dull and mind-numbing, especially when women can be so much more flamboyant. Also- freezer paper stencils are the most awesome and amazing thing. What a joy. Print, cut out, iron on a paint proof stencil that won't move or leak. JOY!
lol! Back with a tutorial soon!

Here's a quick how to for this kind of stencilling.
"Freezer Paper" is something I'd never heard of before but seems quite common in the USA. It is similar to the waxed paper you would use for baking (ie one side feels waxy and one side is matt) although when subjected to a heat (like a hot iron) the wax side melts slightly. This slight melting causes it to fuse in a water tight way to fabric. But! It can be pulled off fabric easily too.

So- buy some freezer paper. I did a quick google search and a quilt shop in the UK sold and posted some to me. Its not very expensive (especially when compared to those printable iron on transfer things). It came in a large sheet, part of which I cut into 2x A5 sheets. I then printed a stencil I had found online onto the NON-WAXY side with my cheap printer. Then I cut out the black space using a pair of small scissors.
Using a hot iron I fused the freezer paper stencil to the fabric. It is worth spending some time on this step and ensuring that all the edges are fully fused before caring on.
Time to paint- I used Dylon Fabric paint which was supposed to be soft even without washing and it wasn't the puffy kind, just a good dye-like paint. Remember GO SLOW. Definitely put a piece of cardboard or newspaper underneath your fabric to prevent transfer to the back of your shirt. Make sure you mix your paint well as the top layer is always a bit watery and this will seep under your stencil (so cause blurriness) even if your stencil seems perfect. I found it best to not load my brush too much and work up to an even dark colour instead of gooping it on. Take your time- it is worth it.
Only when it is dry (or else annoying smudges!) Pull the stencil paper off slowly and use a hot iron to set the paint (or however the manufacturer of the paint suggests). Because this is a cotton shirt I could iron very hot for a long time.
And that's it! Hope it helps and if its not enough, I used some YouTube videos and craft tutorials to help me. Just search for freezer paper stencil.


  1. that looks fantastic (although your husband looks a tad scary in the last photo) I am interesting in more info on the technique here. As i could liven up my daughters wardrobe with cool effect.

  2. I know, right?! He’s quite a softy really but I think the moment, the camera and the moustache inspired him. :) lol!
    I will edit the post above to include the details of how to do this for you.
    Incidentally I have washed this shirt twice now in a normal 40 degree wash and tumble dried it and the black has stayed a beautiful true black without fading so I’ll recommend the Dylon Fabric Paints (in the UK) that stay soft even when painting (and they haven’t even paid for an endorsement!)


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