Introduction: Make Your Own Freezer Paper.

Picture of Make Your Own Freezer Paper.

Freezer paper is good for wrapping your freezing goods, but it is even better for making stenciled clothing!
A big company named Alcoa makes "Reynolds Freezer Paper" and because I hate big companies, I'm gonna show you today how to make your own freezer paper. We shall call it "Makepiesnotsense Sticky Paper".

Step 1: Materials & Tools.

Picture of Materials & Tools.

1) sheet of airmail paper
2) thin plastic bag

*Alternatively use
1) sheet of standard white paper
2) standard black garbage bag
See Majjuss Sticky Paper or skip to Step 6.

3) iron
4) scissors

Tools you'll need if you use the paper as stencil:
5) cutter knife
6) pencil

So, children, if you try this at home, just remember:
If you want your result to be radiant,
be gentle, be careful and patient.

Step 2: Design & Caption.

Picture of Design & Caption.

Now if you want to use the result as stencil for textile printing, you should draw your design on the paper first. You can find some stencils at
Of course you can print it with an actual computer printer if you haven't run out of ink like me. But be sure to lightly tape it onto some thicker paper, since printers have an aversion to thin airmail paper. You can choose an image with islands, it's no longer a problem with Makepiesnotsense Sticky Paper!

Here's a tip: Even without printer you can use your word processing software to generate a caption for your image. Write whatever you wanna write and just copy it.

Step 3: Paper & Plastic.

Picture of Paper & Plastic.

Cut the plastic bag open and into a rectangular shape. Now you can adjust the big rectangular piece to the size of your sheet. Make sure you've got approximately 3,5 centimetres (1 1/3 inch) of plastic overlapping each of the four sides of the paper.

Step 4: Ironing.

Picture of Ironing.

Now that you've got the right sizes of both plastic and paper, you can turn on your iron. The right iron heat should be a tad little bit less than the maximum. Put the paper over the plastic sheet and let them fuse. The iron shouldn't come into direct contact with the plastic. If you need to iron the borders, cover the plastic with some other paper. You can use baking paper if you don't want them to stick.

When you iron the paper onto the plastic, the plastic will shrink and then burn onto the paper and then shrink again. This means your paper will get a bit crumpled, but the good thing is it will get all even again if you iron it onto the piece of clothing.

Step 5: Cutting.

Picture of Cutting.

Use your scissors to free the paper from overlapping plastic. Now use your cutter knife to cut out those parts of the drawing that are supposed to come out coloured. And tada! You can iron your Makepiesnotsense Sticky Paper stencil onto any piece of clothing.

I use acrylic paint for my prints and let them dry over night before removing the stencil.

Step 6: Majjuss Sticky Paper

Picture of Majjuss Sticky Paper

Instructables member and fellow DIYer majjuss experimented with a lot of paper-plastic combinations and found that you can make great sticky paper for stencilry with black trashbags + standard white printer paper. The paper doesn't curl up quite as much as with my method and you have the advantage of printing your image directly onto the paper.

The previous steps apply to both methods.

After you've fused paper and plastic with the iron and cut off excess plastic, check your garbage bag side. Small holes (diameter <= 1 millimeter) will not noticeably affect the outcome of your print. If you see any bigger holes, you can cut out another piece of plastic, lay it over the holes and iron on again. Then you go about it the same way as with the other material: cut out the stencil with an x-acto knife and iron it onto your fabric. For more information, read comments or feel free to ask.


Perua4 (author)2017-03-17

great, however fusing plastic produces toxics that may harm our health. We shoulddo it in ventilated room and wear masks, ideally outside .

gldaniell made it! (author)2016-09-07

I had quite a good experimentation with this, using printing paper and envelope paper(is that airmail paper? I don't know, we don't have quite a good translation of that in hebrew, my native language) with white trashbags I took from work, and had quite the same quality of results... Although all my stencils were not reusable unlike acetate made once that I easily peel off the fabric, not sure if it is the designs which are quite detailed and docile/sensitive or the paper itself. still quite a good method for DIY designs and for a "perfectionist" like me who really cares about the bleeding and the fineness of the result :)

MariF6 (author)gldaniell2016-11-18

Is that One Piece? Haha looks awesome :)

xe_xe (author)2016-11-06

Does it mean tat u use thin plastic for airmail paper and use thick plastic for standard white paper?

giedre (author)2015-09-22

Hi, but when you iron plastic onto paper first, do you place anything underneath the plastic? Won't it stick to paper and to surface under?

NightFire (author)2008-11-17

1000' of freezer paper costs ~$20.00 (USD) and can be bought at any grocery store. A small rolls goes for ~$5.00 (USD). Making freezer paper is simply not cost effective like this.

zerblatt007 (author)NightFire2015-07-17

Even though it is not effective, I like to know how to make it.

And while it is hard to believe, freezer paper are not sold in our stores so we have to go international and online to get some..

WolfBaneFoxGlove (author)2015-06-07

does this work with white trash bags as well or do they need to be black? I only have white ones.

livvymoriarty (author)2015-04-26

scartm (author)2015-01-06

You had me on "I hate big companies" but great tute, will help w/ stencils here in Oz as it's hard to find freezer paper in Australia. Kudos.

spandit dandekar (author)2013-08-12

I wanted some freezer paper for making quilting templates. We just fuse the paper onto fabric and cut around it, stitch the pieces together and then peel them off after they're used. Will this method work there too? Will be trying it for sure!

hmohd salleh (author)2011-11-20

I would like to know if this technique can be used to print after I have fused the plastic to the paper? And how long would it last? I was thinking of fusing it to a piece of fabric to print on the fabric....that is if you have heard about inklingo?

Hello hmohd salleh,

alas, I have not heard of inklingo. The technique I have presented here serves the purpose of creating a stencil, so that printing is possible, if you apply (acrylic or fabric) paint on the shirt+stencil. You will need inkjet transfer paper (in case you have an inkjet and not a laser printer) if you want to iron a print directly onto the shirt. It is available in stores and over the internet. Good luck with your printing projects + greetings,


psycho_peanut (author)2011-10-19

Hi, I tried the printer paper and the grocery plastic bag since i cant find any airmail paper in my area. it does stick well at first, but whenever i try to lift the product from the ironing table, the plastic and the paper starts to detach again. what do i do?

Hi psycho_peanut,

can you get your hand on garbage bags? That's the type of plastic you will need in order to get it fused with printer paper... The garbage bags I mean are ususally black or blue and thicker than standard grocery bags.

Good luck!

nchambers2 (author)2011-08-03

so you just take a piece of printer paper and print your design onto it then lay it on the corner of a garbage bag, iron it on until bonded together and then cut off the excess plastic, then cut out the design with a knife. Then you put plastic side down onto your fabric and iron it on thoroughly then peel it off?

Hello nchambers2,
yes, you summed it up correctly. except, in between the last two steps, you forgot to mention the act of painting your ornament/picture onto the shirt. i'm sure you're well aware of it though. greetings!

lcamat (author)2011-07-10

hello! i'm new here and i really find this artcle very helpful since i don't see any freezer paper here in the Philippines. i was just wondering, would a plastic wrap go well just like the plastic bag? :)

makepiesnotsense (author)lcamat2011-07-11

Hi lcamat,

I tried it with plastic wrap. Let me tell you that it was a messy business and that it didn't work out at all. So, stick to the plastic bags. It always depends though, there are all kinds of plastic bags out there in the world. You will have to find out, which paper will fuse with what kind of plastic sheet the best.

Best regards,

Space Monk3y (author)2011-02-19

Do you have to cut the desighn into the freezer paper or just add the paint to it then iron?

this method requires you to
1. cut the design into the freezer paper,
2. iron it onto the shirt and
3. apply paint directly on shirt.

keshiacarwile (author)2010-12-05

Is the design you want suppose to be face up or down when placing over the plastic bag?

the design should be facing down. you're supposed to fuse the plastic with the back side of the paper. good luck!

berry! (author)2010-12-01

I've been using your "sticky paper" method for a good year or more now, and it's been fantastic. I've had comments on how professional my shirts look, and I love them. Your tutorial made everything easy, as I had never heard of Freezer Paper before, so I don't think it is sold here.
So, thanks for helping me make great shirts!

makepiesnotsense (author)berry!2010-12-02

great to get such feedback! thanks a lot :D

paulacelaya (author)2010-07-29

thanks! i live in argentina and freezer paper is not a common article here. thanks now i can start stenceling!!!!

clewtwo (author)2007-04-25

Just an observation. Perhaps the "F" word in these instructions could be reconsidered?

makepiesnotsense (author)clewtwo2007-04-27

It has been reconsidered. Thank you.

Darn! I like a good f-bomb sprinkling with my instructables. It makes me feel at home.

makepiesnotsense (author)2007-04-24

For me, the art of DIY is using tools and materials I already have at home. Airmail paper and plastic bags are things I can easily steal from my parents and acrylic paint is something I can easily steal from my sister. Freezer paper is something I'd have to fly overseas for, to get it. 1st: airlines are usually big companies we all don't want to support. 2nd: pollution through air traffic is something we want to avoid and 3rd: airline tickets are usually more expensive than airmail paper and plastic bags. Ergo: nowadays, there's a big company behind everything. But nothing eases your guilt like using big company products to make shirts with "anti- big company" messages. So: Happy Freezer Paper making, everybody!

allawah (author)makepiesnotsense2009-09-10

Hi I signed up instructables just to comment. I love what you've said: 'the art of DIY is using tools and materials I already have at home. ' There're people who don't understand but I do. And I read every comment too. :)

makepiesnotsense (author)allawah2009-09-11

i would go on to say that DIY is a political statement*, and sharing DIY thoughts even more so. thank you for your comment :D makepiesnotsense *the good kind of political statement

yeah I've been looking for freezer paper in the shops but they don't have them (I'm in Melbourne) and i don't wanna get them from eBay. thanks for your instructable, I'll give it a try.

twinkleztar (author)2009-09-07

Genius!! I may be in love with you =)

This works amazingly great! I was a bit hesitant to try this at first because of the whole ironing plastic onto fabric thing, but you're right! It does become one with the paper and peels off easily!

Thanks again!

berry! (author)2009-07-11

hey, thanks for this! i looked everywhere, but there's nothing similar to freezer paper where i'm from. at first i decided to just try regular card and it was a shocking mess. i did the regular paper + trash bag version and my "the strokes" stencil came out fantastic! I used a type of acrylic paint, "andre jacques" that becomes colour fast if you heat set it with an iron after drying. it was $3.00 NZ. thanks for the great tut! PS- had some trouble with islands. they just didn't want to come off! i think i over heated them so they're really stuck to the fabric. but i stuck it in the freezer and it seems to be coming off fairly well now

strmrnnr (author)2009-06-21

This is good. I do not like ALCOE either. AL in ALCOE is for ALuminum. They are one of the World's largest producers of the pollutant 'FLUORIDE'.

PKTraceur (author)2009-05-31

What do you mean, "iron on to fabric?" Can you PM me a video? I need to make a National Parkour Day T shirt stencil, but to be honest, I dont know how to use one... :D Thanks in advanced!!! Great instructable! -PKT

you might understand that i do not have the time to make + post an instructional video here, but i'm sure you will learn how to use an iron. it's not that complicated.

get yourself those 'iron on' sheets for a printer and follow their instructions, if using tools and investing work and time seems like a bad alternative. it will save you a headache.
good luck,

Yes, I get how to use and iron, but do are you really melting plastic on a tee? How exactly do you get it off? Isnt this just a stencil?

(Please don't mind the excess of questions, I just love to..know stuff)


see, the plastic will melt and fuse with the paper. it's stuck to the paper forever. you can now go on and iron this "new" sheet of paper (that has a newly acquired plastic surface on one side) onto the shirt. the plastic won't stick to the fabric, because it's practically one with the paper. try it ;) greetz, makepiesnotsense

Ooooohhhhh... That's all I needed.

gothichiic (author)2008-11-16

hey just a warning - i did the black trash bag version and perhaps i ironed too long or too hot but it left a slight stain on the light coloured fabric. so i recommend cutting out a small section of the 'freezer paper' and testing it on an inconspicuous part of ur tee.

andrea0701 (author)2008-09-18

you said that stencils with islands are no longer a so?

They don't move around because it sticks to the fabric. I don't know, they're no longer a problem for me, anyways. Great instructable. Most of my stencils require small spaces and islands so this helps alot. :)

perfectionist (author)2008-10-25

I've read in numerous places online that ironing plastic grocery bags (e.g.-to make plastic yarn) poses health hazards due to the fumes released by heating the plastic bags. Don't know about trash bags--black or clear; both obviously contain plastic but the content might be less than that of plastic grocery bags. Has anyone looked into possible harm (healthwise) resulting from ironing trash bags? Seems that a well-ventilated room should be used, at the very least--w/an open window--just to be on the safe side.

true dat, my friend. just to be on the safe side, try being in a well-ventilated room. thank you for your comment!

edel (author)2008-04-17

Well I think its feckin (irish substitute for the evdiently taboo F-word) great, I have been wanting to get freezer paper for ever to try this and now i can. yay,

majjuss (author)2008-03-16

Hi! Thank you so much for this great Idea and Instructable! It seems like there is nothing similar to freezer paper available in German supermarkets. You get the stuff when you buy meat at the butcher's shop, but I wouldn't use this for stenciling ;) So I experimented with different kinds of trashbags and paper and even got it to work with normal printer paper and black trashbags (blisters and holes are more visible when using dark bags)! I just printed out a small stencil from some website, cut it out and tried it! It worked out so well that I decided to make a patch for my backpack out of it! The stencil came off so well that I could easily make a second one for my girlfriend and I think it would even do a third time! Please excuse my bad grammar or spelling mistakes, I did my very best :) I wish you all the best of luck with your stenciling projects! greetings, majjuss

makepiesnotsense (author)majjuss2008-03-23

hey majjuss. you say it, it's just very hard to get freezer paper over here and unfortunately there's no equivalent whatsoever. i wanted to wait with my reply until i had tried out your method, and i must tell you, you've found a great way of making your own sticky paper! it's true, when you use thicker trashbags, there are gonna be some holes once you fuse paper and plastic, but the good thing is, you can cut out another piece of plastic, lay it over the holes and iron on again. the product is a spotless (holeless) sheet of adhesive paper perfect for stenciling. also, it will not curve up quite as much as the 'thin' paper + plastic method. and you can always run your sheet of regular paper through the printer. all in all, excellent work!

in step 5 you say you iron it onto any material prior to inking. i suppose the aim is to get a temporary bond between the plastic and the material. have you found it easy to over heat at this stage and thus melt the plastic onto the material?

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