I have posted before about my love of freezer paper stencilling. Well, I’ve been at it again, and this time I decided to make a T-shirt that was very personalized and precious to me. I was browsing through Flickr the other day, and was inspired by this photo. I decided to make myself a T-shirt, using my kids’ silhouettes as a freezer paper stencil. Here’s how I did it:

Things You’ll Need:

  • Children, or other semi-cooperative photo subjects
  • Digital Camera
  • Printer
  • Freezer Paper (found in grocery store, near aluminum foil and plastic wrap)
  • Pen or pencil that draws crisp lines
  • Tape
  • X-Acto Knife with sharp blade
  • Old magazine or large, thick piece of cardboard
  • Iron
  • T-Shirt of your choice
  • Fabric paint of your choice


  • First, I had to get my children to sit still long enough for me to snap a photo of them. My daughter just barely cooperated! When taking photos for silhouettes, there are a couple of things to remember. Don’t cut off any body parts. The silhouette will look strange if your child is missing a hand or foot! Make sure your children aren’t holding their hands in front of their bodies, or the silhouette will look weird, too. The biggest rule is to try to look at the photo as if it were a silhouette. Does it look good that way??? Then use it! Here’s the photo I used (don’t they look so thrilled to pose for me?): 










  • After you’ve snapped a photo that you’re pleased with, load it onto your computer and print it off on regular computer paper. Photo paper is too thick for the next step. For my shirt, I cropped the photo down as much as possible, and then selected a 5×7″ print size.
  • Find a fairly sunny window and tape the printed photo onto the glass. Tear off a comparable-sized sheet of freezer paper and tape it on top of the photo in the window, shiny side down (you’ll be drawing on the dull side). Make sure to tape it down flat, or your freezer paper will move around, and you’ll end up with a very funky silhouette! Use a pen (or pencil, if you’re more comfortable) to trace your child’s silhouette. Take your time to make sure you get it right. Trust me, you want to be slow and steady for this job! Here’s what my children’s silhouette’s looked like, after tracing:

  • Now, you’ll need to use your X-Acto knife to cut out the silhouettes. Place the freezer paper on your old magazine or cardboard now, because you X-Acto knives are very sharp and will cut through the table underneath! When cutting, pay extra attention to detail and, once again go slowly! If you have any spots (between arms or fingers, especially) that will need to remain the same color as the T-Shirt, don’t forget to save them! For example, look at the left side of my children’s silhouettes. See that little space between my daughter’s side and her arm? I saved the small piece of freezer paper I cut out there, because the silhouette wouldn’t look as good without it.
  • Once you’ve cut out the silhouette, it’s time to adhere your stencil to your shirt. Place the shirt on a flat, heatproof surface. Plug in your iron and smooth out any wrinkles. Now, place the stencil in wherever you want it. Make sure to place the stencil shiny side down, or it will stick to the iron instead of your shirt! Once your stencil is situated, it’s time to iron it, which will cause it to stick to the shirt. Make sure you get all the edges. I’ve found that about 20-30 seconds is usually enough ironing. If you have any small pieces of freezer paper saved (such as the space between my daughter’s arm and her side), place them on now (shiny side down) and iron until they stick.
  • Next, tear off another sheet of freezer paper that’s slightly larger than the stencil. Place this new sheet inside the shirt, shiny side up. This will keep the paint from running through onto the back of your shirt. Now, iron the shirt once again, so the two freezer paper layers will stick in place.
  • Paint a thin layer of your chosen paint over the stencil. Use just enough to get an even layer. Too much paint will result in a sloppy-looking stencil. Here’s what my stencil looked like, after painting:

  • Wait several hours (over night is best!) before peeling the stencil off. This may be the hardest part, but it’s worth it! Removing the stencil before the paint is totally dry might ruin the whole thing!
  • After several hours (or over night), peel the freezer paper off. Tweezers are helpful to remove small pieces. If your paint has any special instructions (iron to set, etc.), now would be time to follow those instructions. Here’s what my finished stencil looked like:

  • Enjoy your unique keepsake T-shirt. I really feel that mine is priceless. I’m going to wear it all the time, even when my kids are teenagers and are mortified!! Here’s another look at my finished T-shirt:

 If you’d like to share your how-to knowledge and have a chance to win a $30 Amazon gift card, check out the Group Writing Project, hosted by An Island Life.