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More with the Silhouette: Freezer Paper Stenciling and Heat Transfer TEES

My word.
I got the Silhouette all revved up earlier in the week
(to show you the frosted glass vinyl, found here),
and then I couldn’t leave the poor machine alone.
I got the freezer paper out yesterday and decided to make a few more stencils with my Silhouette (just like the post here)……….but for shirts this time.
The freezer paper technique (also shown here and here) really is a lot of fun.  And can be done with an X-acto knife and your own traced/drawn image.  But the Silhouette cuts a great and precise line for you……saving a ton of time. 


A simple tee with some foliage on the front.
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I made the foliage look washed out…….more faded looking.
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And then some little mary jane shoes on a tee for my little girl……..
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With dainty fabric flowers on them.  Simple.
(And again, washed out and faded looking…..on purpose.)
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And then I used a little heat transfer vinyl too.
(vinyl found here)
*I tried my hand at designing my own shapes in the Silhouette program…….more info below.*
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It made the cutest little hat with flower.
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The Silhouette and I have had a grand ‘ol time. Maybe I should give her a rest?  Nah.
But remember, if you’d like your own machine, Silhouette is running a great deal on a brand new machine and on their Premium Vinyl.  (Click here to check out the details for both deals.  And be sure to enter ‘makeit’ at checkout to receive the discount.)
Would you like to see how I made all 3 Tees?

First up?
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To make the little mary jane shoe tshirt………I found an image of some shoes in the Silhouette Online Store
(cost me $0.99……..mary_jane_shoes_C00813_19210 07/12/2010).
I removed the bows in the program and stretched them to make them more narrow.  Then I cut out a piece of freezer paper, layed it shiny side down on my sticky mat, slid it into the Silhouette, and then told the program to cut my image.
Then, since I’m making a stencil, I need the negative space.  I carefully peeled it back off the mat, along with the other little pieces inside of the shoe……..
………and ironed them down to the shirt.  (Warning:  Peeling the paper off the mat makes the paper roll up a bit since it’s a thin paper that you’re peeling off of a sticky mat.  Just be patient as you hold it down to iron it.)

EDITED: Confused about what Freezer Paper is?  Click here to find a whole post about what this stuff is.

Then I used some fabric paint (just like the paint used here) and a foam brush and applied the paint a little splotchy.  I was going for a more textured look but you can apply your paint evenly to get a solid color.
After the paint dried, I peeled back the freezer paper……placed a thin piece of material over the painted image, and ironed it to set the paint.
That was it.
Then, I cut out about 10-12 little cotton circles to create each flower.  You could use knit too.  Then I cut out little leaf shapes from some knit fabric, that would accompany each flower.
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I placed each flower with their leaves down on the shirt where I wanted them, then removed the flowers and zig-zagged around the leaves, securing them to the shirt.
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Then I placed the flowers back down and hand-stitched a little pearl through the center of the flower and the shirt, securing everything in place.
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Second up?
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I made a stencil for this shirt with freezer paper, the same way that I made the one above.  I used two different vine images and manipulated them just a bit to fit on my shirt how I wanted.
(1_piece_leaf_cluster_C00660_19210 04/20/2010 and vine_C00697_18816)
Then I peeled back the negative space.  Again, peeling back the freezer paper from the sticky mat will cause it to curl up.  Just carefully place it where you’d like it……….
………..and then start from one end and gradually iron down piece by piece, flattening the freezer paper down as you go.
Until it’s all ironed down.
Then I used fabric paint and filled in my stencil, using the splotchy look with my foam brush.
Then I removed the paper and heat sealed it, just like I did above.
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EDITED: Confused about what Freezer Paper is?  Click here to find a whole post about what this stuff is.

Third up?
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For this little hat shirt……..I used the SIlhouette program and used the shape tools to create a little hat shape.  This is just a screen capture below, and it shows the little tools that you can use along the left side, to create any shape you want to.  My shape is full of flaws, but once it’s cut out, you can’t tell one bit.  Keep that in mind…..don’t try to make it perfect!
Then I used the Silhouette machine to cut out the hat shape, and then ironed it right to the shirt.
Next, I made a little satin flower (like the ones here), added pearl to the center………
Then attached it to the hat.  Done.
(Tip for melting the satin- I cut out very uneven edges for this flower……and not so circular.  I also held the lighter flame under the flower in some places to really get the fabric to pucker.  Just be careful while doing so.  You don’t want to burn yourself or scorch the fabric too badly.  Good luck!)
And that’s it.  A few new Silhouette ideas for you Silhouette owners.
Again, I’m sure these basic concepts will work for you Cricut owners……I just haven’t played around on one at all.
And remember, if you’d like your own machine, Silhouette is running a great deal on a brand new machine and on their Premium Vinyl.  (Click here to check out the details.  And be sure to enter ‘makeit’ at checkout to receive the discount.)
Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with my craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
stencil and heat transfer shirts
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  1. Annalie says:

    What kind of paper did you use to make the little grey hat? Is that freezer paper too> Did you just print on it?

  2. says:

    I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This paragraph posted at this website is really good.

  3. Cherryl says:

    I just got a Silhouette for Christmas. What settings did you use for the freezer paper?

  4. Lauren @ The Thinking Closet says:

    Ashley, I’ve been a follower of your blog for a long time – – but it was fun to go through your archives and find this gem of a post. I recently got a Silhouette Cameo for Christmas from my hubby, and I am so excited to dive into projects. I made an inspiration board on my blog with a few Silhouette projects that have me head over heels, and your leaf stenciled shirt is one of them! You can check it out here:

    In fact, I love all the projects in this post – – you have me excited about using freezer paper to make stencils! So fun.


  5. Lourdes G says:

    WOW!! I was looking for a freezer paper tutorial(using it for decorating cakes) and stumbled upon this tutorial. These are all great ideas did not know you could create these type of things with freezer paper. Thank you so much for sharing! :D

  6. Jenni says:

    Thanks so much for showing how to do this! So easy and almost free

  7. stacey says:

    Wondering what settings you use to cut the freezer paper. Light paper or did you customize?

  8. Anna@DirectionsNotIncluded says:

    Thank you so much for this! I just received a Silhouette in December and I’ve been wanting to try freezer paper stencils with it forever. I just made two baby onesies and a shirt for my best friend and I LOVE how they came out! Awesome tutorial.

  9. Jenny says:

    thank you so much for this post! i am not sure how i stumbled across it, but you have DEFINITELY inspired me. I got a Silhouette for Christmas, and I am making birthday shirts using this method TODAY! My question for you (just for reference, really) is what you make your settings be when cutting freezer paper. On the machine, I mean. What blade # should I use (for cameo?) thanks for any help you can give! I am a total beginner but this makes me excited!! :) :)

  10. heather says:

    the more and more i look at these… the more and more i think i need a silhouette machine. NEED. not want. NEED!

    thanks for the great ideas!

  11. Janelle W says:

    Love it, love it, love it!!!! Just came across freezer stenciling – looks like so much fun. Thank you for posting your great designs!!!!

  12. Ashley says:

    Yes, I'm sure you iron the freezer paper over top the paint. The freezer paper attaches quickly and without even needing that much heat. So just make sure your first layer of paint is completely dried, place fabric over the dried paint and heat seal the paint with the iron, and then do your second stencil of freezer paper. Good luck!


  13. Colby and Krin Warr says:

    Have you ever done a stencil with two paint colors where you have to put the second color on top of the first color? Can you iron the freezer paper onto the first paint color once it has completely dried? I want to paint a white bunny with pink ears & nose. Love your blog, so glad you share with the rest of us.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Another option for people with cutters is Make the Cut – it is a program where you can download free images to your computer and Make the Cut will let you manipulate them and cut them out. I can use my Cricut, but there is a lawsuit now and not sure if Make the Cut is compatible with a Cricut anymore.

  15. Ashley says:

    kristen- For the freezer paper, I use the blue cap cutter and then just use the vinyl sticker setting. I use the same cutter and settings for the vinyl and it doesn't seem to cut through my paper backing on the vinyl. If changing your settings doesn't help and are still having problems with it, I would definitely call Silhouette. Maybe they have some more suggestions. Their customer service has been excellent!

    Good luck!

  16. Kristen says:

    Would you mind sharing the settings that you used in your Silhouette for the freezer paper? I'm struggling a bit with mine as it keeps cutting through all of my vinyl and paper backing.


  17. Staci says:

    I love my Silhouette, too! I just got rolls and rolls of heat transfer, in quite a few different colors, and some are flocked. I might not sew the shirt because I don't have a machine, but I certainly will iron on some cuteness!

    Thanks for the ideas!

  18. akraftycatch says:

    What a fantastic idea. Love it!! and can't wait to try it. I'm in Australia and don't recall seeing 'freezer paper'. Does anyone know if it is called something else here???

    1. The Spangler says:

      I’m in Oz too and you might have found the answer to this by now but just in case you haven’t … Spotlight sell freezer paper by the meter. You have to ask for it at the fabric cutting counter as they usually do not have it out for display – from memory about $1 – 2 per meter!

  19. Lisa says:

    I'm addicted to your site! You have the cutest ideas. I LOVE the Mary Janes tee for my two girls, but what about my two boys? Do you have any cute monster ideas????

  20. Lisa says:

    I'm addicted to your site! You have the cutest ideas. I LOVE the Mary Janes tee for my two girls, but what about my two boys? Do you have any cute monster ideas????

  21. Aimee Lee Photography says:

    I absolutely LOVE your site!

    Just wanted to add a little tid-bit for those of us who own a Cricut Cutting Machine. There is a program that you can purchase online that will allow you to cut out ANY shape you want – even hand drawn ones (similar to the Silhouett's computer program). It's called "Sure Cuts A Lot". I found it for about $75, but you are allowed to download it onto two computers, so I went in halfsies on it with my sister in law.

    Sure Cuts A Lot also uses ALL the fonts on your computer, so you can cut out a wide variety of vinyl sayings for your walls that are much more creative than the Cricut cartridges themselves.

    You simply design your item you want cut out, plug the Cricut into your computer, and cut! YAY!

    Hope this helps out my fellow Cricut Cutter friends! :)

  22. Camille says:

    you have the most amazing, inspiring ideas! love the shoes and hat shirts…don't have a silhouette, but maybe i could just do it with fabric?

  23. Holli says:

    I orded my silhouette 2 days ago! I'm so excited to give it a try! And I have about 300 feet of freezer paper in my kitchen so as soon as that cutter gets here I'm set!

  24. The Stafford Crew says:

    are the vines and mary jane shoes just painted on after the freezer paper is applied? If so, what type of paint is used?

  25. Donna's Daze says:

    Love your tutorial! I can't wait to try it myself. I put a link to your post on my blog.

  26. Mary Jo says:

    Adorable!! I love these ideas!

  27. lAuRa says:

    love, love, LOVE the Mary Jane shoes! too cute!

  28. Casey says:

    love these shirts! especially the mary janes!

  29. Brett says:

    I have searched high and low for freezer paper too. Has anyone found it in Canada?
    And thanks for the link, Kim. That may have to be how I get it!!

    1. Heather M says:

      I bought mine at Superstore in Edmonton

  30. Kim says:

    this is freezer paper! found it at my local Wal-mart, along with all the foils and plastic wrap!

  31. Leah says:

    I like them all, but I think the hat one is my favorite!

  32. Thainie Creations by Annie says:

    Amazing post as always, I really need to get the Silhouette!!!! For those that are looking for freezer paper, it's really hard to find, I know since I had some friends look for me at different supermarkets. I finally ordered some on Amazon. Look up Reynold's Freezer paper, you can get them at bulk but sometimes they are also out of stock. Everyone is using them for crafts! :-)

  33. Clover says:

    these are some of the best I have seen thanks for the awesome ideas!!

  34. Birdie says:

    Love all of these! My one problem, I have not been able to find freezer paper anywhere, does the package actually say "freezer paper"?

  35. Scott and Laura says:

    I just ordered mine using your code and I am so exited! I wish it was here yesterday rather than having to wait because I have so many things I want to do with it! Thanks for sharing some fun ideas.

  36. Heidi Ferguson says:

    Just got a silhouette and for some reason I was stumped about what to make, so I will definitely have to try it out! I love the gray shirt!

  37. kpmattingly says:

    Love the mary jane shirt. So cute! :)

  38. The Deelo Family says:

    I'm so glad you posted this, especially with the melted satin flowers. In my head, I thought that I read that you used silk. For Christmas I made my baby the cutest purple booties to go with her dress and wanted to do the flower near the toe. I used a lighter on the silk, but the edges would NOT curl! Now I know why and satin should be a lot cheaper than silk! Just for your information, though, even though the flowers did not curl, it helped seal the edges and they look PERFECT on the booties!

  39. ALR Photography says:

    Thank you so much for the silhouette tutorials – there's not much that i can find out on the intertubes right now. thankyouthankyou!!

  40. Grace says:

    I ♥ all three!

  41. Katie says:

    These turned out so great! I'm a huge fan of freezer paper stencils. I wish I had a Silhouette though, I tend to develop rage issues trying to cut out my stencils with an exacto knife.

  42. Jo says:

    Do you know if a a Cricut would do the same thing as a Silhouette?
    I think freezer paper is what I know as grease-proof paper. I only have baking paper at the moment though – would that work? Can you iron it?

  43. Cerise says:

    I need a Silhouette! Those shirts are so cute!

  44. Kristi Hoskins Gifts says:

    Oh how I love the mary jane shirt! The embellished shoes are sooo cute!

  45. Rachel D says:

    I love the idea of embellishing your designs – hadn't thought of that. The shoes are too cute!

  46. Shanda says:

    How do you get your freezer paper not to stick to your cutting mat?

  47. Beth Eaton says:

    I LOVE the little shoes and the floral one! I can't wait to buy a Silhouette – or at least win one!

  48. Lu says:

    I love all three! Freezer paper stencils are my favorite thing about my Silhouette so far. Also, it seems to keep the stencil (or whatever else you're peeling off) flatter and less curly if you bend the cutting mat away from the cut material instead of pulling the material away from the mat. So I put my mat on the edge of the table and curl it down while holding on to the material to keep it more or less straight. I saw this tip somewhere, and it works really great for the most part.

  49. Mandy @ Sugar Bee Craft Edition says:

    Hey Ashley, just FYI, from your screen shot I think you're using the software that came with your Silhoutte – turns out there's a new version that you can download from free off their site, and it's even easier to use – anyways, I'm glad I found it recently – I mention it here:

  50. Giana says:

    Hi, I used freezer paper and my silhouette to make personalized aprons for my kids for Christmas, but I must be doing something wrong with the settings…the first couple turned out great but after that the freezer paper started getting stuck in the previous cuts left in the mat. What settings are you using? Do you have any advice? Thanks, Giana

  51. Jacki says:

    I've never tried Freezer Paper, I can never find it! I use contact paper instead, and cut it on the same settings as vinyl. Then stick the sticky side onto the paper, and use a popsicle stick or bone paper folder to make sure there's no air bubbles.

    Black Contact paper also works as a good substitute for black vinyl!

  52. Jen Isackson says:

    Okay QUESTION – you keep talking about it but I have no idea what it is…. what is FREEZER PAPER? Where do you get it? Do you use regular vinyl with freezer paper? Do you mine writing a brief post about it. I have a vinyl cutter (very large industrial size) and would love to do designs on clothing. What do I need for it?

    Thanks a bunch.

  53. Angie @ The Country Chic Cottage says:

    Freezer paper with the Silhouette — you are a GENIOUS!!! :) Thanks so much for this inspiration!! :)

  54. Marisa says:

    You seriously inspire me. I have had my Silhouette for months and haven't used it for anything but vinyl and cardstock. I even have 2 colors of heat transfer on hand. Time to make some clothing!

  55. Ashley says:

    Annchan – Freezer paper has a paper side and then a shiny side. There is some sort of coating on the shiny side that sticks well to fabric when heated up under the iron. In fact, if you have the shiny side facing up, it will stick to you iron… be careful. Give it a try! :)


  56. Annchan says:

    I don't understand. When using normal freezer paper (The vines one specifically) where does the sticky backing come from. Freezer paper in my grocery store does not have a backing.

  57. Clare G says:

    I love your blog, and I love my Silhouette. I just got some freezer paper – so I'm glad you posted this today! All of your projects are great.

  58. Jesy says:

    OOOOoooOO love these!!

  59. Leanne says:

    these are fantastic! I just got a silhouette for Christmas and am chomping at the bit to try some of this!

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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