Have you heard about using your Cricut cartridges to make freezer paper stencil patterns? I have come across a couple of blogs and message forum posts about this, and finally, I decided to give it a try.
First, I have to brag a little. My sixth grader played football this year, and his team actually made it to the final championship game! They didn't win, but the fact that they made it as far as they did inspired me to pull out the freezer paper and make t-shirts to wear the game. Anyway, here's a picture of the tees I made with my Cricut:
And here's the youngest member of our family sporting his "fanwear". He's only four, but he was even able to roll up his sleeves and help paint the design.
Cute, eh? He thought he was "big stuff" out on that football field...
Anyway, here is what you will need to make freezer paper stencil patterns:
* Cricut Machine
* Cricut Cartridges (for my shirts, I used Don Juan for the letters and Sports Mania for the icons)
* Freezer Paper
* Iron and Ironing Board
* Fabric Paint
* Paint Brush (I used one that was designed for use with fabric paints and that had short bristles that were good for stippling)
* T-shirt (this should be washed to remove the sizing, but don't use fabric softener, because it can affect how the paint adheres to the fabric)
Cut the freezer paper to size and put it on your cutting mat shiny side down. Select the size and design you want to cut, and cut as you normally would.
This is your stencil. For the lettering, I used Don Juan because one of the creative features lets you embed letters within shapes. Since the letters are already embedded, they don't need much modification to be used as stencils. For the football shapes, I used the Cricut Sports Mania cartridge, and used the negative space (the part that you would normally throw out or put in the scrap pile) as the template. I also cut layers, and used the negative space again, instead of the actual die cut, to paint the football.
The next step is to iron the freezer paper to the t-shirts. Place the freezer paper stencil patterns shiny side down where you want them on the shirt, and then using your iron on a low heat setting, iron them on to the fabric. When heated, the shiny side of the paper becomes tacky and adheres to the fabric. Make sure the shiny side is not up, or it will adhere to your iron!
Once the stencil is ironed to the shirt, it's time to paint. I found it was best to apply the paint using a stippling or pouncing technique. I also did not load the brush with too much paint, because I did not want the paint to seep under the freezer paper. For my shirts, I applied a couple of layers of paint to get the look I wanted.
For the layers on the football, I did not iron the template down. After painting the football and allowing it to dry, I simply held the layers template in place and painted the details.
When you are finished painting, it's time to remove the freezer paper. The first time, I made the mistake of waiting to remove the freezer paper until the paint was almost completely dry. This was a problem because some of the paint from the fabric also came up with the paper. I found it was better to remove the freezer paper stencil when the paint was still damp.
It took about four hours for my shirts to completely dry, and if I remember right, the instructions on my fabric paint said to wait 72 hours before washing, to give the paint time to cure. Every manufacturer is different, so make sure you pay attention to the instructions included with whatever brand of paint you buy.
I had a lot of fun with this project, and I imagine that I will be making freezer paper stencil patterns with my Cricut again very soon! I think it would be a fun project to do at a baby shower, decorating onesies for the new parents. This technique could also be used to customize kids' bedrooms, using it on curtains and other textiles. When I find the time, I actually plan on making some frog pictures on canvas for my boys' bathroom.
Before you go, here's a couple more links for inspiration from one of my favorite places to visit - the Cricut message board...
Anyway, let me know what you think, and if you have made any projects using this technique, we would love to hear about them!