Tag Archives: painting

Freezer Paper Stenciling: How to be crafty when you’re really not.

I’m not crafty. I can’t draw, I don’t sew or knit, or paint, or even take pictures that well. But I can trace! & if you can too, you’re in luck! You’ll be able to do something like this!

My friend Marcia is having a baby girl next month, so I made this for her baby shower last weekend. It took less than 2 hours, & only $3! Oh, & zero artistic ability.

Here’s what you need to make a freezer paper stencil that looks like you screen-printed an article of clothing, but for a fraction of the cost:

  • Reynolds Freezer Paper (find it near the foil & wax paper & stuff)
  • X-acto knife
  • Regular old acrylic craft paint (I got this bottle for 97 cents at Wal-Mart)
  • Paintbrush
  • Iron
  • Article of clothing (I found this cute, feminine, organic cotton onesie at Wal-Mart for only $2! Not even kidding!)
  • Picture to resize & trace

First, you need to find a picture to duplicate. The smaller your artistic ability, the simpler it ought to be. I tend to go for stylized illustrations with few lines. I chose those adorable chick stickers in the first picture for that very reason, & even simplified my chick further by doing away with the flower in her hair. (I borrowed the closed eye from the boy chick because I thought it was cuter.)

Once you’ve found your picture, resize it to the size you want. I just put one of The Munchkin’s sticker pictures in my scanner, cropped out everything else, & resized. I also used my photo-editing program to really amp up the contrast to make them easier to see. They’re not perfect, but they’re easy enough to trace around.

Next, print it out & use a black ink pen to trace your outline. You want a fine tip so you can really get some sharp corners. For any detail work, like the wing, eye, & legs, use something at least as thick as a Crayola marker; the lines will be much easier to work with that way.

Now get out your freezer paper & use a pencil to trace your design onto the matte (not plastic-coated) side. Be sure to trace around your thicker detail lines. Also, for interior details like the eye & wing, trace them onto a separate piece of freezer paper. You’ll be cutting them out & ironing them on separately, so you might as well make as little work for yourself as possible by spreading things out. Unfortunately, I was so excited to iron the stuff on that I didn’t take pictures of the next couple steps. So I hope that my instructions make some sense.

Now use your X-acto knife to cut out your design. Work slowly. But keep in mind that for long lines, like the curves of the chick’s body, it’s best to try to do it in one smooth stroke if you can to avoid jagged edges. For the wing on the separate sheet, I actually used scissors for a lot of it because I felt more comfortable that way. That works fine when you’re cutting around something, but when you’re cutting inside something (like the chick’s body) the X-acto is a must. I cut mine out on top of a cereal box panel to avoid slicing gashes into my table.

Now iron the design on, piece by piece, starting with the largest design (this should be your exterior outline), with the iron on the cotton setting. Take care to really get the edges down with the tip of your iron so paint won’t leak underneath.

Once the freezer paper has cooled (this won’t take long), put at least 1 sheet of cereal box cardboard inside your shirt to protect the back & start painting. For the vivid, screen-printed look on my onesie, I used a round brush & kind of just dabbed it on, & did one more coat once it dried. For a faded, vintage look, you can use short brush strokes (I did this to make an awesome Beatles t-shirt last year for free… please don’t tell their merchandising company). But whatever you do, make sure that you get all the way up (& over!) the edges of the stencil so you have crisp lines.

At this point, you need to resist the urge to pull it off & see your brilliant work. Let it dry completely, like overnight or more. Then you can pull it off. For finer details, like the feet & wing, work very slowly & have your X-acto handy to help free the paper from the paint & fabric.

Now you can admire your brilliance!

To heat-set it, just place doubled-up paper towels or pieces of scrap fabric on top of & underneath your design & iron it on the cotton setting again for several seconds.


This project has so many fun & budget-friendly applications: birthday girl/boy t-shirts, personalized sweatshirts, canvas bags for teacher appreciation gifts… the possibilities are endless!


Filed under Crafts, Tutorials

Painted Easter Cookies.

How’s this for a fun new take on cookie decorating?

Truth be told, it’s only sorta new. You see, the original idea came from my Grandmother, LaRee. She was the kind of homemaker I aspire to be: fabulous cook, incredible seamstress, great pianist (& even wrote music!), & celebrated holidays like no one else.

Every Christmas, my aunt Becky gives the whole family a great gift: a piece of our family history. This past Christmas she wrote about some of Grandmother’s holiday traditions, & even included some of her old recipes! (You can bet I’ll be trying & blogging her Milkless Pumpkin Pie this fall!) One of those traditions was painting gingerbread cookies at Thanksgiving time. The “paint” was egg yolk & food coloring — they didn’t worry about salmonella back then. I thought it was such a fun idea! But obviously, the salmonella bit had to go.

I baked my favorite sugar cookie recipe; this is the recipe that I come back to every time, like a good hairdresser — when you stray, you always end up feeling sorry you did. I got it from a coworker whose wife made them for a potluck of some kind years ago. I hope she doesn’t mind that I’m stealing it & reposting it (at the end of the post) for the world to see, but it really is the perfect cookie — thick, soft, & always delicious. Then I frosted them with I Am Baker’s famous glaze for a nice, hard white surface to paint on.

The next day, The Munchkin’s friend & her mommy came over to paint with us! The paint was a grand experiment that thankfully went right: a healthy glob of gel food coloring (we wanted vivid colors for the girls; if you want a lighter, more watercolor-esque effect, start with very little), plus a drop of corn syrup to stabilize, plus a couple tablespoons of water. I put a different color in each well of a muffin tin & had different brushes for each color to avoid mixing. The brushes were brand new & very well rinsed before using.

The girls had a blast! The Munchkin’s friend, who’s almost exactly a year older than her, was very careful & intent in her painting: she covered each cookie entirely in one color, switching colors only with new cookies.

You could tell the girls’ cookies apart in 2 ways: 1) The Munchkin enjoyed mixing her colors, & 2) the bite marks.

Once the girls got tired of the painting, the mommies got to have a turn. My friend Wendy is a cookie-egg-decorating master, I’ll tell you what.

(Special Easter Bunny tip: if you have small children, skip the fake grass — go with tissue paper instead. Your carpets, vacuum cleaners, domesticated animals, & sanity will thank you.)

Now, before you rush off & go paint some Easter masterpieces yourselves, here are a few things we learned:

One – If the colors touch, they will run. Leave a generous white border between colors, or you’ll get this:

Two – Food coloring isn’t as washable as Crayola. Expect your hands to look like this for a day or two if you have a particularly young &/or messy child:

Three – The corn syrup makes the paint a little sticky, even after drying, so for storage, shipping, packaging, etc., use parchment paper.

Four – No matter what holiday it is or what we’re decorating cookies for, as long as My Husband The Cougar Fanatic is around, there will always be a BYU athlete. Always.

Five – This was totally AWESOME!!!

Here’s the Perfect Sugar Cookie recipe, courtesy of my coworker’s wife, Grace:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (I usually let a little “spill over” to add just a teeny bit more)
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  1. Cream butter & sugar until smooth.
  2. Beat in eggs & vanilla.
  3. Add dry ingredients gradually & mix until well combined.
  4. Chill one hour to overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 400.
  6. Roll dough out on lightly floured surface, 1/2 inch thick, & cut with cookie cutters.
  7. Bake 6-8 minutes.

Enjoy, & have a happy, sweet, & colorful Easter!

Tidy Mom


Filed under Activities, Holidays, Recipes