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How to Make a Freezer Paper Stencil (with Free Downloadable Stencil Design)

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Camping truly is my happy place. It’s just so relaxing; no stress, the summer breeze, smell of the campfire… and an excuse to eat as many s’mores as I want.

Each time we go we try a different version. My favorite so far is putting a roasted marshmallow between two Fudge Stripe cookies. My husband prefers using Reese’s in place of the chocolate. And the kids – well, one ends up eating all the chocolate and the other ends up eating tons of roasted marshmallows, so I suppose it all evens out.

And now I’m hungry for s’mores. How long until the next camping trip?

I tried to make a camping themed tank top for this summer, but it kind of was a disaster. I was trying out a new technique and it failed pretty spectacularly.

Blurry Happy Camper Icon
My experimentation with a new dye technique didn’t turn out quite how I had imagined…

Not being one to easily admit defeat, I was determined to fix it! Using a freezer paper stencil, I could paint over my failure. It’s a great technique for a one-time use stencil.

Supplies needed:

  • Freezer paper
  • Printed design
  • Tape
  • X-Acto knife
  • Fabric paint
  • Paintbrush or sponge
  • Wax paper

Start by taping the freezer paper shiny side down over the design.


Freezer paper taped to the happy camper stencil design

Carefully cut out the black sections using the X-Acto knife. Don’t forget the insides of the letters!

Cutting the freezer paper stencil with an X-Acto knife

Here’s what it should look like after it’s all cut out.

Happy camper stencil all cut out

Place the stencil where you want it on your shirt (shiny side down again). Dry iron at the temperature appropriate for the fabric. The freezer paper will stick and get a little wrinkly.

Ironing the freezer paper stencil onto the tank top

Before you start make sure to put wax paper inside the shirt to prevent the paint from leaking through to the backside. When painting, either dab the paint on or brush away from the edges to prevent paint from leaking under the edges of your stencil.

Using a brush to paint in the stencil
Brush starting from the edges towards the center. Do not brush towards the edges of the stencil or you may push some paint underneath, resulting in smudged lines.

Once you’ve finished painting, remove the stencil by gently peeling it away from the shirt. Make sure you remove the stencil as soon as you’re done – if you wait until the design is fully dried some of the paint could pull away with the stencil.

Carefully peeling the stencil away from the shirt

The paint I used needs to be heat set to be washable, so after waiting ample time for the paint to fully dry (it was a couple days before I got back to it), dry iron from the back of the fabric using the hottest setting the fabric can handle. Iron for about 2-3 minutes in each spot – careful you don’t scorch the fabric.

Ironing the backside of the painted fabric

It’s recommended to wait about 4 days before washing.

Now I’m all set for camping!

Green mottled tank top with Happy Camper design on front

Freezer paper stencils are an easy way to make a crisp, clean design! If you liked my Happy Camper design, I’m including a free downloadable stencil! Click the image below to download!

Happy Camper stencilWearing "Happy Camper" tank top while leaning against a tree

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