Babies! They’re so picky and particular about what they wear, am I right? The good news for you is that with just a few inexpensive supplies and a little bit of patience, you can be the hit of the next baby shower you attend, OR your own baby’s favorite parent! These stencils and techniques can be used on adult-sized shirts too, but tiny things are cuter so that’s what’s happening.
I made the stencils I used in this tutorial exclusively for this project– if you watch 30 Rock, you’ll recognize the “EGOT” necklace (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) and also recognize that it’s not too soon to start expecting big things from the baby in your life. “This Side Up” is really practical and especially good for first-time parents. And the bird is just the perfect thing for a tiny sweet girl!
what you’ll need:
freezer paper (many grocery stores carry it)
100% cotton onesie, t-shirt, or anything else you want to stencil
fabric paint (found at craft stores, small bottle will be plenty)
masking or scotch tape
image to use as a stencil
something to cut on — old magazine, cardboard, etc.
A couple of notes before we get started: Fabric paint directions specify washing the clothing before you paint. Between you and me, I’ve never done that, because I have zero patience. But you should probably follow instructions just in case!
In choosing a stencil image, make sure you pick something that doesn’t require too many unattached pieces. If you’re spelling something that’s all ‘B’s’ and ‘A’s’ (abracadabra?), you’re going to be cursing yourself and everything to do with this craft. Pick something simple to start. Let’s go!
1. Cut your image down to a square, then cut a piece of freezer paper around the same size. Tape the freezer paper shiny side down on your cutting surface and tape your stencil image to the freezer paper.
2. Start cutting out the black. Work carefully but don’t freak out if you cut slightly inside or outside the lines. Set aside any floating pieces in a safe place so you can find them later. Note: I originally designed the bird stencil with an eye, but abandoned it in order to make things easier on all of us. You’re welcome!
3. Go back and clean up your cutout, smoothing any jagged edges. Remove the tape and cut down your stencil so it will fit on the item you’re going to paint it on.
4. Heat up your iron on the cotton setting, turn your onesie inside out, and iron a rectangle of freezer paper on the inside front of your shirt/onesie to prevent bleed-through. This will also give you a chance to see how the paper adheres to your clothing … you should just need a few seconds of ironing on to get the paper to stick well.
5. Center your stencil shiny-side down and start ironing. Work from one side to the other– it should only take ten seconds or so to adhere to the fabric. Pay special attention to small cutout areas.
6. Iron on any floating pieces you set aside, like the “O” in “EGOT.”
7. If you’re satisfied that your stencil is sticking tight, it’s time to get to the painting part. Shake your paint well and squirt some on a paper plate.
8. As you paint, try to keep it as even as possible. Dab paint in any smaller areas and brush over. Make sure that your coverage is uniform, but be careful not to oversaturate with paint. The paper will start to look alarmingly wrinkly as you go, but it will hold up–just keep an eye out for any gaps between fabric and paper and using a dabbing technique if that’s happening.
9. When you think it looks nice and covered, let the paint dry to touch — mine took about 15 minutes. And now — the reveal! The very best part of this craft is ripping off the paper and seeing the amazing tiny work of art you just created.
Lay your onesie or shirt out flat for a few days to let the paint completely cure, then you’re free to wash and gift. Cute/ironic store-bought onesies are for chumps! Look at what you MADE!
The world of stenciling on clothing is yours now. As you get more experienced with it, you can use more complicated images … a great place to look for free stencils is here. Enjoy!