Freezer paper & bleach

You’ve probably already seen this ALL over the internet, so I’m not going to do a detailed tutorial.  I am, however, going to tell you what worked for us and what I learned along the way.

One of Macy’s BFF’s has a birthday coming up.  We wanted to make her something unique.  (Side note:  Kristine, don’t let Ashlie read this!)

First we found a font we liked and typed out what we wanted the shirt to say.  I printed it, enlarged to our desired size.


Macy traced it onto the non-waxy side of the freezer paper and then I cut it out with an Exacto knife.

I ironed it on to the shirt.  Don’t move the iron side to side, you’ll catch small details and rip/remove them.

I put a piece of cardboard inside and put the whole thing on an old towel.  I folded the bottom of the towel up over the bottom of the shirt so we wouldn’t have any incidents with wayward bleach.

I made a 50/50 bleach and water mixture and put it in an old hairspray bottle.   I misted the stenciled area.  It didn’t do much, so I dumped it out and put straight bleach in the bottle and then misted it again.  Go with the straight bleach.  You’ll be able to get away with a lighter coat and have much less chance of it bleeding.

Then, after the letters were noticeably lighter than the shirt, I stretched it open and had Macy yank the cardboard out quickly.  I immediately shoved the whole shirt (freezer paper still attached) into a sink full of OxiClean water.  I’m not sure if this step is actually necessary, but we did it.  The OxiClean is supposed to neutralize the bleach.  Or maybe it just makes an explosion….whatever…worked for us.

I peeled off the paper and rinsed the shirt out well and then threw it in the washer for a regular wash.

End result?


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  1. That's pretty cool! I've seen people use freezer paper as a stencil for fabric paints, but never bleach. I'll have to try that!

  2. tinahead81 says:

    i JUST bought freezer paper! can't wait to try!

  3. Liz @ LivingMySweetLife says:

    I have been putting off freezer paper stenciling for a while but now I feel I must buy some and try this. TY!

  4. Lynn from For Love or Funny says:

    Actually, I haven't seen this yet – but I'm gonna try it, thanks to you!

  5. Al, Wendy, Max, and Lil says:

    That looks so old school. I love it. Maybe this will reintroduce the art of fuzzy iron lettering. I miss those days.

  6. How cool! I've never heard of this…I'll have to give it a try! :)

  7. well, you know i love me some freezer paper and some bleach – but i've never put them together. i was thinking of trying that with the bleach pen.
    i am thinking that the oxi clean isn't necessary – with the bleach pen i just rinse it carefully in water and then throw it in the washer.
    way cute!

  8. Kimmy @ my beautifully blessed life says:

    What a cute gift!!! I just recently saw this tutorial & fell in love with it! Yours turned out adorable!

  9. Kristine Robinson says:

    She will love this – too cool! So, I am a total nerd – what is freezer paper?? I think I could actually make some of these – fun project while kids are off track!

  10. I wish you could buy a smaller roll of freezer paper. The grocery store I was in only had this HUGE roll, meaning I'd have to do it again and again and again :)
    BTW, I saw one tut. where they put a piece of freezer paper behind the shirt and ironed that on, to protect the back of the shirt. I once used contact paper to do a stencil (wish I'd know about freezer paper then) and did the way you did with the cardboard. If I ever do it again, I will iron freezer paper on back instead.

  11. It turned out so cute. I have never tried it but I bet my girls would love to make some of those!


  12. Mama Thompson says:

    Turned out great! Thank for sharing what worked and didn't for you…always so helpful. I have been thinking about making something like this for my little one's 3rd b-day…may just have to try it:)

  13. Sarah@VintageChic says:

    I heard once, that using vinegar on the bleach will neutralize it and keep it from continuing.
    This turned out awesome! I have my freezer paper which I use all the time to protect my counter when doing paint & Mod Podge projects.

  14. Sew It To Me says:

    That turned out really cute. I have seen all the tutorials for freezer paper shirts and am interested in trying it out. Thanks for your tips.

  15. ~*Nomie*~ says:

    I like that a lot! I have freezer paper just sitting in my drawer and my kids need new ideas for clothes! Thank you!

  16. Very cute.
    But was there an explosion or not? Because if so, why didn't you get a picture of that?!

  17. i love this. no plasticy feeling from fabric paint that can be too thick. and the color is always a perfect complement!! awesome. can't wait to try it.

  18. Peggy of Plush Nest says:

    I second the use of vinegar to neutralize the bleach. We used it in our college costume shop & I've used it at home many times, works really well. You do have to wash w/ detergent afterward to remove the odor.

    I'd seen the freezer paper for paint before, but not bleach, how cool.

  19. Peggy of Plush Nest says:

    I second the use of vinegar to neutralize the bleach. We used it in our college costume shop & I've used it at home many times, works really well. You do have to wash w/ detergent afterward to remove the odor.

    I'd seen the freezer paper for paint before, but not bleach, how cool.

  20. That is really cool. All the tutorials I have seen were different than that, leaving the speckles of bleach to spread around the shirt. I like this cleaner method.

  21. the momma says:

    Hey I did the same thing on my blog! Well, not the same. But with freezer paper. And bleach. And that's about the end of the similarities.
    But I like yours!

  22. tonya314 says:

    I have done the same thing using "soft scrub with bleach". I just dabbed it over the stencil. It was easier than using regular bleach beacause it's thicker, more like a paste. I was afraid the bleach would run and get onto an area of the clothing that I didn't want it to. Yours turned out great though!

  23. I did this a few weeks ago for St. Patrick's day…I made two shamrock shirts for my son & niece…I used 75% bleach / 25% water and both shirts came out great! Not bad for my first try!

  24. Green Gracie Home says:

    so cute! We needed "Peace Day" shirts for my kids and I took old t-shirts, stuffed with cardboard and used a q-tip dipped in bleach to write on them (Peace, symbols, etc.) and the q tip worked awesome.

  25. I must have done something wrong. When I did this, the part I bleached turned the bleachy pink color, not lightened the color of the shirt. What did I do wrong? :-(

  26. I just made a few for my kiddos. It was simple, easy and fun. I love it. Thanks!

  27. Jenalyn and Mike says:

    Do you know if it works on shirts that are 95% cotton/5% spandex or do they have to be 100% cotton?

  28. Char @ Crap I've Made says:

    Jenalyn and Mike,

    The 95/5 work fine. It's the 60/40 and the 50/50 that don't work. HTH!

  29. Oops. I didn't pay enough attention to the part about misting the straight bleach on. I read "dumped" and went with it. So, I rolled it on with my very-full-of-bleach foam roller. It got all under my design. Luckily it stayed within the outer square I was making. I will now do the fabric paint in my bleached square. I WILL be trying with bleach again.

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