How To Make Stencils

Learning how to make stencils couldn’t be easier. Making your own stencil begins by choosing an image for your stencil that you draw or print out from a computer.  For instance, you may choose a flower, tea pot, ballet shoes, skull and crossbones, or an animal. The shape or image will be cut out of a piece of freezer paper to make the stencil.

To make a stencil, you will need:

  • Freezer paper
  • Tape
  • Razor knife
  • Cardboard
  • Iron
  1. Cover your work area with a sheet of cardboard to protect your table top while using a razor knife to cut out the stencil.
  2. Draw or print out the image or shape for the stencil. Cut a length of freezer paper and lay it, wax side down, on the cardboard. Lay the printed or drawn image right side up over the freezer paper. Use tape on the corners of the image to hold it in place on the freezer paper.
  3. Use the printed image as a guideline to cut around the shape with a razor knife. Cut through the printed image and freezer paper. When finished cutting, carefully remove the tape, and discard the printed image.
  4. Press the fabric to be stenciled with a medium heat iron to remove wrinkles and make the surface flat. Position the stencil (freezer paper) with the wax paper side against the fabric (Tee shirt, canvas bag, etc) and press the stencil with a medium heat iron to secure the stencil to the fabric. You are now ready to paint over your stencil with washable fabric paint. Let the paint dry, and then peel the freezer paper off the fabric.


  • You can print your image directly on the freezer paper using your printer.
  • If you are stenciling a shirt, insert cardboard inside the shirt, to keep the paint from bleeding through to the back of the shirt.
  • Some fabric paint requires heat to seal it. Once the paint is dry, iron it with a medium heat iron, use a hot blow dryer, or put the article in the clothes dryer.


  • Do not use an image for your stencil that is too intricate unless you are an expert making small, clean cuts with a razor knife.
  • When stenciling, use small amounts of paint (as dry as possible) to avoid bleeding under the stencil. The wetter the paint the more bleeding there will be.
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