How It's Done: T-shirt Stencil

Home Ec.’s Jenny Ryan on making a T-shirt stencil

Photograph by Mindee Choi




Sketch an image on paper. Cut out a piece of freezer paper about three to four inches larger than the shape you’ve drawn. Tape the paper to a well-lit window and place the freezer paper over it, shiny side down. Trace the image on the matte side of the freezer paper, remove from window, and cut it out with an X-Acto knife to create a stencil.



Slide the shirt over an ironing board and place the stencil, shiny side down, on the front of the shirt. Apply a medium-heat iron with no steam to the freezer paper. The paper’s wax will fuse temporarily to the fabric to create a stencil that fabric paint won’t seep beneath.



When the shirt is cool, remove it from the ironing board and slip a piece of cardboard inside. Brush or dab the center of the stencil with fabric paint. A regular paintbrush will work, but a foam sponge brush provides an even finish. Set the piece aside and allow it to dry. Once the paint has dried, peel off the freezer paper to reveal the design.


Illustrations by Stephen Campbell