Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Freezer Paper Printing Project: Linen Napkins

If you've never done printing with freezer paper stencils before, you're missing out on one of the easiest and most satisfying ways to print that I know of. In the past, I've found this method somewhat limited, because cutting out detailed stencils with an x-acto knife can be laborious and frustrating. As a result, I never attempted stencils that called for anything other than large and simple shapes. But today I was fiddling around in my craft bins and decided to put my Martha Stewart paper punches to new use as stencil makers, and the result was lovely.

To make the linen napkins shown, you'll need the following:
Freezer paper (also sometimes called butcher's paper)
Paper craft punch-I used the Martha Stewart "Stained Glass" puncher
Cutting mat and craft knife
Fabric or acrylic paint
Linen napkins (I made mine with hemmed pieces of linen measuring 19 1/2" long by 16" wide)

To begin, cut out strips of freezer paper 15 1/2" by 3"; you'll need one for each napkin you're printing. With the shiny side of the paper facing down, line up the left edge of the paper (only cut through one piece at a time) with the left edge of the paper punch, and leaving equal amounts of space between the top and bottom of the punch.
 Begin punching the paper all the way across the length of the strip. I had room for eight continuous punches. There is a place on the edge of the puncher where you line up the previous punch so it'll be exactly aligned with the next one.
At times the punch didn't quite cut clean through each shape. If this happens to you, just flip your paper over and carefully cut any stray bits away with a sharp crafting knife. 
When you're finished punching out your stencil, place the freezer paper SHINY SIDE DOWN onto the fabric, and iron it on. This is the magic of freezer paper, that it temporarily adheres to fabric with an iron, but peels away easily when you're done printing.  Just make sure you take care to iron all of the little bits down onto the fabric, or else ink will seep in under your stencil. I used a medium high setting, no steam.
Now comes the printing part. Take a blob of paint and a stiff brush with a flat or round head, and start stippling the paint over the stencil. You might want to try this on a test piece of fabric first til you get the feel for how much paint and how much pressure to use to achieve good results.

Let the paint dry thoroughly before gently peeling back the freezer paper. The paper can only be used once, so discard it when you're done. 
And that's it! Now you've got some spruced up linen napkins that were deceptively easy to make. 

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