Freezer Paper is used in the United States for wrapping food, for storage and for many other uses. One American lady I spoke to said that it was used for everything in the home, and she was often given pieces to draw pictures on as a child.

Freezer Paper Stencils
Freezer Paper Stencils

Most patchworkers and quilters have heard of freezer paper. Some are not quite sure how to use it and others are not aware of the different ways it can be used. It has a shiny side and a matt side. If you lay the shiny side of the paper down onto the fabric it stays there until it is pulled away. It leaves no residue on the fabric as it is a silicone surface. Because of these qualities, I use it for stencilling, screen printing, appliqué, and invisible appliqué. I also find it useful for foundation piecing as you can use long lengths and it is strong enough not to tear too easily.

I will give you lots of tips as to how to make the most of this paper.

NB – most patchwork and quilting shops stock freezer paper, and if you know someone who is going to the USA ask them to bring you some back – it is stocked in grocery stores.

Method

  1. Start by cutting a square of freezer paper about 8in square.
  2. Select an easy shape to use such as Annette’s apple design. Transfer to the paper and cut out the shape carefully. Remember that you are going to be using the outline left in the paper, not the apple shape you have cut out.
  3. Iron the square of paper with the apple cutout onto the fabric – shiny side of the paper down onto the right side of the fabric.
  4. Put a blob of paint of each of the three colours onto a plate or saucer. Using the sponge brush, gently dab the green colour over one side of the apple – don’t be tempted to rub too hard with the paint, it may seep under the edges of the paper and give you a fuzzy image.
  5. In order to add definition you can, using the same brush dab a little yellow and red to the apple.
  6. Leave to dry completely, remove the paper carefully, it can be used more than once. Iron to fix the paint to the fabric.
Painting with the stencil
Painting with the stencil

Tips

  • If Annette is going to use a design more than once she often uses template plastic or an old margarine lid. Place it over your drawn image and cut out – you will be able to use the design again and again.
  • To do a string of designs use a long run of freezer paper and cut out multiple designs. If you are careful you can fold in a concertina to get correctly spaced designs.
  • If you remove the freezer paper carefully you can use it again!

Uses of the apple design

  • Bags
  • Placemats
  • Tablecloths
  • Cushions
  • Bottom of dresses and skirts
  • And of course quilts!

The stenciled design
The stenciled design

This technique can also be used to add definition, for example to a fabric piece that you have appliquéd. If you have appliquéd a green apple then use the same template to cut a hole from freezer paper and place over the appliqué, using red paint adds definition and shape to the appliqué. The freezer paper template prevents you accidentally painting on another area by mistake. Press carefully with a towel under the appliqué piece to stop it getting too flat.

Handy Hint

It is possible to use the wrapping paper from some packs of photocopy and printing paper. Check with a small piece first and be aware that the patterns make it more difficult to trace designs and the ink can come off on your iron

First published in Popular Patchwork Issue 5 2007