It still doesn’t quite feel like fall around here in San Diego (does it ever?) and October is quickly passing (as it always does). I’ve been planning on trying my hand at freezer paper stenciling and making this skeleton sweater for a long time, but I’m still wearing crop tops and shorts over here…
Anyways. We had a nice gloomy morning the other day, so I finally set out to make this ribcage/skeleton sweater. This was my first time attempting freezer paper stenciling and I’m officially hooked! It was so easy to do and turned out better than I could have imagined. I wore my sweater all day immediately after finishing it (despite the 75 degree and sunny forecast) and got numerous compliments on it. Expect lots more DIY projects and freebies like this from me in the future.
01 // Print (or draw) your design & cut out
Download my ribcage design here and print on the paper side of the freezer paper. I have a 12in borderless printer, so I was able to print a nice large design on one sheet. Depending on your resources, you may need to tile together a few sheets or hand draw your stencil to achieve the size you want. Then cut out all the shapes, and take special care not to lose any of the internal pieces (I kept the right and left rib spaces in separate piles).
02 // Assemble the design on your sweater
On a smooth surface, lay the stencil on the sweater with the plastic side facing down and replace all the internal shapes to reform the ribcage design. If any of your internal shapes were cut a bit jagged, feel free to smooth them out with your scissors now.
03 // Iron down the freezer paper
Carefully iron over the freezer paper on medium heat. I didn’t want to risk my inside pieces shifting around, so I gently placed the iron on top of each section versus dragging it across the design. Make sure all the edges are ironed down so no paint bleeds underneath the stencil. (Also don’t burn yourself like I did…)
04 // Protect with cardboard & start painting
Slide a piece of cardboard into the sweater in case the paint seeps through the fabric. Use your sponge brush to dab the fabric paint onto the sweater. Be extra careful around those thin right and left sides. Ideally, you should probably have a lot more paper protecting the sides of your design so you don’t accidentally get any paint outside the lines (like I did).
05 // Let dry & apply more layers
The first layer of paint will look fairly light as it soaks into the fabric. I got impatient and applied three more layers before allowing it to dry. (I don’t got all day to paint a sweater.) But this didn’t really work and only made it take much longer to dry. I waited overnight before applying the next layer. If you’re patient, you should wait at least 30 minutes before applying another coat of paint. I applied my next and final layer the next day. Let dry and reapply until you’ve achieved your desired whiteness (3-5 layers).
06 // Carefully peel off the stencil
When the paint has completely dried, carefully peel away the stencil. The paint will be gummy and may cling to the paper, so be gentle so you don’t tear any of the design off with it. For the center pieces, rather than picking at the corners to remove, I pinched the paper in the middle and peeled.
Protip! If any paint did happen to bleed outside of the stencil, no worries! Just use some black acrylic paint and lightly go over any mistakes. No one will notice. ;)
07 // Heat set
I don’t really know how necessary this step is, but another blog said to do it, so I did. The directions on the paint don’t require any heat setting, but the DIY instructions I read claimed it keeps the design from fading after washing. It also made the design feel less sticky. So place another piece of fabric (I used one of Dave’s old t-shirts) on top of the design and iron over it.
And there you have it! Your very own pseudo-“screenprinted” freezer paper stenciled sweater! And you didn’t have to pay $200 for it like a crazy person.