TUTORIAL: President’s Day shirts ("Intermediate" Freezer Paper Stenciling)

by Dana on July 6, 2008

Celebrate your favorite President this President’s Day or on the 4th of July.

Or…
Be a Conan follower with your own Conando shirt:
All three shirts will be explained in this tutorial.
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You can make your own Posterized Image Stencil by following our tutorial HERE:
Or you can download our stencils for Free!
You’ll find Lincoln HERE and Washington HERE.
(To print correctly: click the link, when that page opens, click “PRINT” at the top left corner of the page – this will allow you to open the PDF file and then print @ 100% – full page. If you want the image to be smaller, print it at a smaller percentage)

If you’ve never done Freezer Paper Stenciling before, please read through our Tutorial HERE first:
If you’re familiar with stenciling already, then let’s get started. Both patterns can be done by a Beginner, but they are more involved and require a bit more patience. Of course they’re totally fun and soon, you’ll be addicted like me!

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Washington Shirt

With your Washington image printed out, you may choose to make it into a freezer paper stencil or do what I did here……I traced it and cut it out of a recycled T-shirt. Trace to the inside of the shirt first, then you won’t have any pen markings accidentally show up when you flip it over:
Center it on your shirt and pin it down (I bought my T-shirts at Walmart for $2 each):
Carefully sew around the outside of the image, with a normal stitch (no zigzag). Be careful not to stretch or pull the shirt and image as you go. Periodically stop and lift your presser foot to shift the shirt around (instead of tugging and pulling). I chose to go around the image twice; 2 lines about 1/4 inch apart from each other.
Print off whatever words you’d like from your printer. If you do this in a Word doc, you can save on your ink printing by highlighting the words, going to “format” and “character” and select “outline”.
On our shirt we’re referencing the famous Cherry Tree. Print or trace your words to Freezer Paper on the dull side, cut them out, and make sure you save the little pieces that go inside the letters! Lay your words on the shirt, place them where you’d like, and iron them down. If you don’t like the placement, peel it off and position it again:
Fill in your letters with their pieces and iron them down also:
Make sure you have a piece of paper inside your shirt (so no paint seeps through) and paint right over your stencil:
Let it dry for a couple hours (or if you get antsy, use a blow-drier to speed it up). Peel of the paper and you’re done!
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Lincoln Shirt

With your Lincoln image printed to Freezer Paper, tape it down to a cutting mat so nothing shifts while cutting:
Grab your craft/exacto knife:
I always print two images, one for cutting and one for reference throughout the process. If you want to save on ink, print the cutting image as just the black and white stencil drawing (also in the PDF download HERE).
Start by cutting out the smallest pieces first. This makes the process easier and less likely to tear:
Make sure you save any pieces you need to add back to the image later. Use the other printed picture as reference so you remember which pieces need to “float” inside the stencil when you iron it all to your shirt:
Continue cutting things out, little by little. Your hand may start to cramp up. Shake it out, wiggle your fingers around.
Your final stencil should look like this:
Place it on your shirt and iron it on where you would like (I bought my T-shirts at Walmart for $2 each). Make sure you seal everything on there well. You don’t want any paint seeping out of the stencil:
Then, referencing the other printed picture again, place your “floating” pieces exactly where they should be and iron everything down:
When you’re done ironing, it should look like this:
Make sure you have a piece of paper between your shirt (so nothing seeps through) and paint in your stencil!
It should look like this:
Let it dry for a couple hours or speed-up the process by using your blow-dryer. When the paint is dry, peel off the paper and you’re done!

FINAL STEP….
MAKE SURE you “HEAT SET” your paint. Read the instructions on the back of your paint bottle. You need to do this so that when you wash it, the ink doesn’t wash/fade.
What I do….
Put a kitchen dish-cloth over the painted image and then iron on top of that for a minute or so. This “sets” the paint.
If you want to get TWO shirts out of your own stencil, make another one with the “negative” image. Use the other pieces you cut out and create a “frame” for it so that the stencil is enclosed. You can also do a circle around it or an additional outline of your image. Iron it on to your shirt, paint, dry, and……
You’re done!
NOTE: This shirt took 4 coats of red paint. The other two shirts above took only 1 coat.
Now pick your favorite President,
And let’s Celebrate!
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Looking for something that’s Conan-tastic?! Make a Conando shirt!
Here’s how you do it…

I started with this Posterized Image of Conan O’Brien. Using the Create Your Own Posterized Image Stencil Tutorial, I went from this:
To this:
(the font is called Round-Up from Dafont.com)

The easiest method for Stenciling is to print the image directly to your freezer paper. Cut a sheet of Freezer Paper that’s appx 8 1/2 x 11 and make sure you print to the dull side of the paper.

You can copy the Conando image TWO ways:
1. Click on the image above to enlarge. Then “save as” to you computer. Open it in a Word doc and insert the picture so you can adjust the size for your needs.

2. Grab the PDF pic by clicking HERE.
(To print correctly: click the link, when that page opens, click “print (1 page)” at the top left corner of the page – this will allow you to open the PDF file and then print @ 100% – full page).

Follow our tutorials for Freezer Paper Stenciling:

This one gives you the basics:
And this one, with the Lincoln stencil, is a bit more in-depth and similar to the Conan Stencil:

When you’re done, your shirt will look like this:

(I buy most of my plain kids T-shirts from Walmart for $2-$3)


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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Camille Cathey February 20, 2012 at 9:22 pm

I made the Lincoln shirt for my toddler. It turned out super cute and was really easy. Thank you so much for the tutorial.

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2 zena February 21, 2012 at 6:42 am

My 9 year old LOVES anything president related. I think i’m going to make both, and let him pick out his own quote. Found you via tipjunkie. Thanks for posting this!

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3 Michelle March 8, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Wow! You’re talented! I just bought one of those cutting pads today! Now, I know how I can use it. ;) I’m going to be making one of the tiered skirts in the next couple days. . . with my own twist of course! I’m going to be starting a “sewing tutorial” tab on my blog soon. Would it be okay, if I linked a couple of your tutorials up to it?

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4 Annie May 28, 2012 at 11:57 am

These are amazing. I have only just found you and want to make everything you have a tutorial for.

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5 Debra June 15, 2012 at 10:56 pm

I’m not very crafty, and these aren’t perfect- but they will work! This was my first attempt at freezer paper stenciling- just in time for the Idina Menzel concert!!! https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150903605998005&set=a.10150884667393005.425263.712863004&type=1&theater

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6 Debra July 8, 2012 at 8:02 pm

How would you go about making a shirt with several colors? I’m thinking of making “Plex” from Yo Gabba Gabba. I’m thinking of printing several copies of the template and cutting out black on one, yellow on one, etc. and then added each color separately. What do you think?

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7 john diggins December 17, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Diggs is my everyday name hook. Am an artsy of sorts and do like using stencilling as one of my main expressive modes. danamadeit is an excellent, simple, informative and friendly site. Mostly gals responding but that is a pleasure of sorts too. Have lots of time with the guys. Enuf. Nice site. Facebook name is Appiman Jhandi (Happyman JohnD). Do have my van stencilled and posted. The likes of it will occur on clothes, thank you very much. Nice site. Looks good on ya :))
I’ll be back.

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8 Tasha February 4, 2013 at 7:59 am

I love your tutorials and I have always wanted to try this! I would love for you to do a full detail tutorial or youtube tutorial on that Conan photo. Here’s where I get nervous, I’ve been wanting to do this with my daughter’s photo but I’m not exactly sure where to cut on the inside of the face. Do you cut out the eyes and mouth, maybe I could email you personally a photo & you could explain what areas I need to cut?

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10 Lisa July 23, 2013 at 4:06 am

What kind of paint do you use? Does it usually crack? Is it stiff?

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11 Laura September 4, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I also would like to know!

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12 Kyle January 10, 2014 at 10:56 pm

Wow, you are really amazing! I’m totally inspired seeing all the cool things you’ve made on your site in your tutorials section! I need to stencil up some tanks for the gym!

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13 Melisa July 29, 2014 at 1:35 am

Great shirts! Beautiful idea.

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14 Patricia September 10, 2014 at 3:01 am

This is the easiest way I’ve seen of doing this. It could also be done using a linolum printing process where you would design different colors onto diffferent pieces that you could piece together like a puzzle. I’ll have to give it a try sometime. Good tutorial.

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15 jood October 13, 2014 at 7:09 pm

what kind of paint do you use?

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