Freezer Paper — Who Knew!?

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May 2010 Update: Check out the Craftster Quickies Video Tutorial for all the info you need to make freezer paper stencils!

Freezer Paper Stencil Video Tutorial

I keep reading bits and pieces here and there about cool things you can do with freezer paper so I decided to do some searching on Craftster to see what the heck everyone is talking about.

So first off, freezer paper has been around for a long time but I don’t think it’s used much any more. It’s this nice heavy paper that’s plain on one side and then waxy or plasticy on the other side. If you’re having trouble finding it at your local grocery store, have no fear because lots of places on the internet sell it. Just do a google search for it.

Be sure you use “freezer paper” and not “wax paper” because wax paper is waxy on both sides and you only want it to be waxy on one side.

OK. So from what I can tell here are the two things that a lot of people are using freezer paper for on Craftster:

Painless Stencils

Craftster member t0xicity was kind enough to write up a great tutorial for how stencil with it. I’ve heard lots of people say that this method is much easier than using contact paper.

The basic idea is that you have an image to begin with perhaps printed out from your computer on regular paper. Then you lay it on the freezer paper (waxy side down!) and onto a cutting mat and use and X-Acto to cut out your design (cutting it out of both the paper and the freezer paper). Toss the regular paper as it’s job is now done. Then take the freezer paper and iron it onto your t-shirt or fabric and then paint over it with washable fabric paint which is very easy to find in lots of colors. Then you just peel of the freezer paper and you’re done!

Read the tutorial for lots more details:

Print Right Onto Fabric with your Ink Jet

Lots of people also seem to be using freezer paper to help them print right onto fabric. It’s pretty amazing that you can do this and it looks really good. But I will say that I’d make sure to try this on a printer that’s perhaps on it’s last legs rather than a new expensive printer. Thrift stores often have mountains of old ink jet printers so it may be a good idea to buy a cheap one just to craft with. Oh and don’t use a laser printer for this.

So what you do is cut a piece of freezer paper to 8.5″ x 11″. Then cut a piece of nice quality cotton fabric to the same size. I’ve heard lots of people use 200 count muslin with good results. Iron the freezer paper to the fabric. This adds a stiffness to the fabric which allows you to send it through the printer.

Now your probably thinking “will the ink smear if the fabric gets wet or will it fade in the sun?” and the answer seems to be “yes.” So here are a couple products you can use to make sure this doesn’t happen:

You can buy waterproof ink jet ink cartridges like these:

Or there is this product that you use to treat the fabric beforehand called Bubble Jet Set and then in theory you can use regular inkjet ink:

Here’s a project Limegreenchicken posted where she used this method to print a picture of Madonna onto fabric and then used that fabric to make a purse:

Now go forth and be crafty!

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  1. alison says:

    freezer paper is amazing! i kept dismissing it for years, and then i tried it. print on fabric is so cool.

  2. Richard says:

    This looks like a great idea. In fact as soon as I get ink for printer I will print this artical and try it. I will then let you know what happens and send pic.
    Thanks for this.

  3. Katie says:

    You can also print images directly onto the freezer paper in an inkjet printer, which is much faster than printing on a second piece and cutting through! Just cut it down to 8.5×11 size and make sure that when you run the paper through it is the right way up so that the image prints on the non-waxy side of the freezer paper. easy peasy!

  4. McAuliflower says:

    Wonderful round-up! I’m reved up!

  5. Allie Tinsley says:

    you can also use spray adhesive on regular paper to get (a) the paper to stick to the cutting mat, and also for when you’re actually stenciling. if you leave it on for too long it will permenantly adheire, but that’s yet to happen for me.

  6. Maxime says:

    Thanks so much for the great information! I always wondered what freezer paper actually was… I’ve been making stencils out of duct tape and they turn out really gross!

  7. Samantha says:

    I actually use freezer paper for what it was meant but I could have stared at it all day and not come up w/ any of these ideas.

    Many thanks,

  8. Terri says:

    Freezer paper is great used for applique in quilting. the other ideas sound interesting. I’ll have to try them!

  9. Booya Kasha says:

    Works great for meat too.

  10. Tara says:

    wow this was like so awsome and helpful. I was so wondering too about the whole freezer paper thing and dang, here it is 🙂 thanks so much. im so excited, i have so much to do now… 😀

  11. kevin says:

    Great tip i learnt a while ago,
    paint wrinkles fabric, so when youre ironing, also iron a large piece of freezer paper on the reverse side of the shirt, cloth etc, keeps it nice and flat throughout your coats

    have fun

  12. pat says:

    is there such a thing as water soluble freezer paper

  13. LouAnn says:

    When the image is printed on the non waxy side of the paper can it be used like a iron on transfer ? Please email me back

  14. Darcy says:

    When applique quilting with felted wool or wool felt freezer paper is wonderful. If you can print your applique pattern to the freezer paper you save yourself the step of transferring your design using a light box and pencil. Iron your pattern to the felt and cut out your design, carefully peel the paper from the felt and presto you have your applique ready to stitch to your project! Patterns available to download or e-patterns give you the opportunity to save your pattern on your computer and to print it directly to freezer paper.

  15. thanks, there is more reason to comment than ever before!

  16. Martha says:

    Can I use the freezer paper for stenciling walls, too? if not, does anyone have another “paper” idea?

  17. Lindsay says:

    Is the stencil reusable?

  18. Laura says:

    So after reading this article, I couldn’t stand that we didn’t have any freezer paper on hand. I turned to my equally crafty husband and said, “Too bad we don’t have any spray adhesive. Maybe we could spray adhesive paper to fabric and run that through our computer printer.” He said, “Yeah we do! I’ll go try it out.” And being the computer tech person he is, he knew exactly how to do it so it would work. Amazing! Now I can print photos on fabric, make labels for my quilts quick and easy, and all sorts of applications that I haven’t even thought up yet! Thanks for the idea about the freezer paper. I may stick to spray adhesive for a while… Well, at least until I get to the store. 😉

  19. Cheat says:

    anyone know if you can reuse the freezer paper stencils or are they a one time use and then you cut another one? I have a project that needs about 30 copies of the same image over and over, so wondering if it’s worth trying this way or going with cardboard or plastic stencils….
    Any help would be great.

  20. Carol says:

    Is there a way to make the printing permanent so the ink doesn’t run without using a bought solution? Steam from the iron? Vinegar?

    I am trying to get a project done for Shriners ASAP and don’t have time to wait to buy something to set the ink from my printer on these labels and need to make sure that the labels will stand up in the hospital laundry.

  21. Frank says:

    Freezer paper stencils aren’t really reusable; the wax in them will “stick” them onto the fabric, but when you peel them off, that’s pretty much it. However, for some multi-color designs I’ve come up with, I’ve taken to tacking a few sheets of freezer paper onto the cutting mat at a go; if these are handled carefully, you can cut once but make several identical copies at once. This way, you can paint multiple island sections that are touching each other by alternating which parts you pull up– as each section is dried, cover it with another copy of that section, iron it on (using some foil to protect the iron from paint), and then peel off the remaining sections so you can have sharp edges of different colors right up against each other. Doing thicker, lighter-color sections first and the thinner, darker borders later help ensure clean edges. Don’t forget to iron on another sheet on the opposite side to both prevent bleed-through and to help stiffen the fabric while you’re working on it!

    Anyway, cutting multiple sheets at once will make a few copies at once. Five sheets is my practical limit for copies, but more might be possible with the right kind of clamps, x-actos, and other hardware.

  22. sugardaisy says:

    dearest frank…i have reused freezer paper stencils for hand stencilling to print a dozen sets of seven towels. that’s a lot of reusing. don’t know about the inkjet wrinkle on this story. its actually some kind of plastic that coats the shiny side of the freezer paper. i always have parchment paper on hand if i am stencilling with freezer paper, so that I can iron the stencil dry. sandwich the stencil between parchment paper and run an iron over it. the stencil will not stick. i have also ironed multiple sheets of freezer paper together to make a stiffer stencil. btw, if you see old freezer paper at a garage sale or thrift, snap it up. the coating is heavier on the older stuff, and it works great!

  23. Kat says:

    I use freezer paper to cover the entire table when I’m oil painting. If I need more pallet space I just use the freezer paper taped to the table. Clean up is a snap!. Great when working with kids. Reusable if not too messy, easy clean up when it is messy. Only drawback is the expense, but that’s better with bigger rolls.

  24. Doing thicker, lighter-color sections first and the thinner, darker borders later help ensure clean edges. Don’t forget to iron on another sheet on the opposite side to both prevent bleed-through and to help stiffen the fabric while you’re working on it!

  25. K says:

    These ideas are really cool. It was kind of confusing at first when everyone referred to the coated side of the freezer paper as being coated with wax. I think it’s coated with plastic. (At least that’s what it says on my box.) If it was with wax, then there is no reason why wax paper wouldn’t work if you cover one side with another sheet of paper, which I did. No matter how you iron it, wax won’t stick…

    I haven’t tried this yet, but another solution to get past the “runny ink jet image” problem is to try and prime, or basically coat the fabric that you are with plastic by ironing a blank piece of freezer paper first. After the fabric is primed, then the image that is printed on another sheet of freezer paper can be ironed on on top of that. I hope that it will effectively seal the image between two coats of plastic. Unfortunately, I don’t have an ink jet printer to experiment with, but I’ll try as soon as I get a hold of one!

  26. M.A.K.A. says:

    I have tried wax paper, normal paper and tracing paper to put images on my candles, but you can see that there is a paper on the candle, will freezer paper work for candles?

  27. kim says:

    Have you tried tissue paper? seems like the wax would bleed into it blending into the candle and only showing the design? never tried it but might work?

  28. […] about freezer paper stencilling. I need some paper. And some […]

  29. C says:

    You could try using a “blender marker” for your candles. Laser prints work better than inkjet prints.

  30. thanks, there is more reason to comment than ever before!

  31. hmmm says:

    As for the candle. One idea might be to use an encaustic technique using wax to seal an image on paper onto your candle. A thin layer on the base candle, then the image, then the wax again. You need a heat gun to melt the wax again though. The outcome is not a smooth surface. But could be fun and quite nice with some experimenting. Hope that didn’t get you off track.

    Someone mentioned applique with freezer paper. I was wondering if there is a way to use this without raw edges for the applique. Interested in different ways to use freezer paper for fabric applique.

  32. Freeze paper lets me do many things, especially in terms of clothing design. Simply with design, print and ironing to get the best results with the freeze paper

  33. kc says:

    Alright, I’m going to do the “painless stencil” step.

    I have two questions: is it neccessary to buy freezer paper for the stencil? Can’t we just use normal paper and tape it onto the shirt?

    Another question is: if I do use freezer paper, when I peel it off, does it leave a shiny, unwanted coating on the shirt? Because that’s not what I want. i need to be certain that the freezer paper doesn’t leave anything on the shirt when I peel it off.

    Will someone please answer? Thanks 😀

  34. […] a good thing there weren’t a lot of kids. Anyway, I’m so impressed and in love with the freezer paper stencil technique! It was totally worth it to do this project. Perhaps my next t-shirts will be good enough […]

  35. theSewingScientist says:

    if you can’t find/ don’t want to pay for freezer paper my high school graphic design teacher had a great solution I’ve been using for year. Coat one side of a regular sheet of paper with a thin coat of rubber cement and let it dry completely. Then cut your stencil out of the paper. The dried rubber cement is sticky enough to adhere to the fabric but peals off easily. it does end up a little bit curled when you remove it but can be used a few times if you are careful!

  36. pimp daddy! says:

    that is a great idea!!!!! i just dont understand if we print it on the freezer paper but wat side of it???? the waxy or non-waxy? but then we iron it right?

  37. Brie says:

    Yeah so I tried this with waxed paper today thinking it was the same as freezer paper!! Haha good thing I didn’t ruin my iron! I thought I was crazy when it didn’t work. Oh, can you use acrylic paint on clothing? I have a bunch & didn’t want to have to run out & buy fabric paint.

  38. Debbie says:

    To answer kc’s questions: 1) if you use normal paper, you will have bleeding of the paint. Freezer paper actually sticks to the fabric, preventing any bleeding of the paint onto the fabric, so you have nice, crisp lines when you are done. You won’t get that with taping regular paper onto the fabric. 2) no, there is no residue left on the t-shirt when you peel the freezer paper off. That’s the beauty of it and why everyone is so crazy about it. What you are left with, if you take your time and do it right, is something that looks professionally screen-printed. To pimp daddy: if you are printing your design directly onto the freezer paper, print it onto non-shiny side. After you have printed your design onto the freezer paper, use an X-acto knife to cut out the design. Then iron it, shiny side down, to your fabric. Then apply paint to the parts that you cut out. Re-apply additional coats as necessary, wait to dry (or place parchment paper on top and iron to speed up the drying process) and then peel off the freezer paper. You’re done!

  39. Shannon says:

    Can you leave the freezer paper on the material for an extended amount of time in order to cut the material and decorate it with fabric markers? Do you HAVE to peel it off or will it come off eventually by itself. See I need to iron it on several YARDS of material, then cut that material into 8X8 inch squares and punch holes in the corners. Then in about a week and a half, let kids decorate the material with fabric markers and then we will tie the squares with ribbon at the corners to make a “quilt”.

    Please reply ASAP! ??


  40. kathy says:

    You can leave freezer paper on the material for a long time, if it starts to release touch it up with an iron.

  41. Ryan says:

    But is the freezer paper transfer durable? AKA if I use water proof ink will the item be at all washable?

  42. kristine says:

    just bought a huge roll yesterday and have been thinking about trying this for a while after I saw these cute goldfish pants: Some people do some pretty complicated stencils! i’m going to look for something easy to start. Thanks!

  43. Deborah In Virginia Beach says:

    I print on muslin with freezer paper using a laser printer. Just heat set the ink afterwards. Its permanent and lasts much longer than inkjet. I used it for making a First years quilt.

  44. katt says:

    I’ve been scouring the internet for hours, and still haven’t found an answer: can I use parchment paper as a substitute for freezer paper?

  45. Stencil Crazy says:

    There are a couple of different ways to make stenciled shirts. One way, involves using an X-acto knife to cut out your own custom design on a piece of freezer paper, and then ironing the freezer paper to whatever fabric you are using. You can see a more detailed tutorial about how to do that at Craftster.

  46. mrs. groban says:

    Katt…no, parchment paper wouldn’t work. Freezer paper has a shiny coating on one side. It’s this coating that, when ironed, acts as a temporary adhesive to hold the freezer paper in place. Parchment paper doesn’t have that coating.

  47. chicnjoy says:

    Hi girls,
    I have to make 22 t shirts for my daughter’s school, I bought freezer paper to do it like said here:
    Katie says:
    9/2/2005 at 1:15 pm

    You can also print images directly onto the freezer paper in an inkjet printer, which is much faster than printing on a second piece and cutting through! Just cut it down to 8.5×11 size and make sure that when you run the paper through it is the right way up so that the image prints on the non-waxy side of the freezer paper. easy peasy!
    But I’m having trouble, I can’t figure out how to do it, I have printed the logo onto the freezer paper on the non waxy side, and then what should I do, am I suppose to iron them like this on the t shirt? Please help me, it has to be done on july 18th 2011.
    Any help is welcome!

  48. kittykill says:

    Hi Chicnjoy!

    Did you cut out the stencil part of the picture? I would cut out the stencil and then yep, iron that baby on and start painting. Hope this helps!


  49. madwhimsy says:

    For those who have had trouble finding freezer paper at your local grocery, I just saw this in a shipping supplies catalog:

    ULine sells it by the roll or in sheets -BUT- you do have to buy a whole lot of it. Maybe team up with crafty friends or trusted online-friends and split an order? Or you can use part of a large order for actually freezing foods!

    Other shipping supply companies may carry it, also, so if you don’t like this vendor there may be other sources.

  50. Carolyn says:

    If you don’t have freezer paper, or just don’t want to fork out the money to buy a roll, just go to the meat counter at your local grocery store and ask if they would kindly GIVE you a piece of butcher paper. It’s waxy on only one side and works perfectly, just like freezer paper, for printing on fabric using your printer. You can save a little money and still be creative!

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