Tag Archives: how to customise a t-shirt

Customising: How to Print with Freezer Paper

printing with freezer paper

Here’s a quick and professional looking way to customise a shop bought t-shirt, using a freezer paper; brilliant stuff that’s been used by patchwork and quilters for years.

You will need:

freezer paper printing

  • a plain t-shirt
  • freezer paper (it’s made by Reynolds and is available from most big sewing supplies shops)
  • fabric paint (I’ve used Dylon fabric paints on my t-shirt, you could also use a fabric spray paint like the Marabu one in the picture, just make sure you choose an opaque paint if you want a bold graphic effect like my t-shirt)
  • a chopped up washing up sponge or a paintbrush
  • cutting mat
  • craft knife
  • pencil
  • a design for your stencil (or you can download my foxy face).

What to do:

1.how to print with freezer paperCut a piece of freezer paper to fit your stencil and to fit onto your t-shirt.

2.how to print with freezer paperPosition the stencil on the freezer paper and draw around it.

3.how to print with freezer paperCut the design from the freezer paper carefully using a craft knife or scalpel and a cutting mat to protect your work surface! TIP: be extra careful in the corners to make sure you don’t tear the paper.

4.how to print with freezer paperTake the shape of the fox’s head that you’ve cut out of the freezer paper and place it shiny side down in the position you want it to be on your t-shirt. Iron the paper and it will stick to your t-shirt. Move the iron slowly and be sure to go over all the edges and corners, but be careful not to scorch your t-shirt.

5.how to print with freezer paperSlide a couple of sheets of paper in between the layers of the t-shirt so that the paint doesn’t go all the way through both layers.

6.how to print with freezer paperUsing your washing up sponge gradually apply the fabric paint over the edges of the stencil. TIP: don’t put too much paint on the sponge at any one time or it will make big uneven splodges on your t-shirt and you may even drip it in the wrong place!

7.how to print with freezer paperLeave the paint to dry for a few hours before trying to remove the stencil.

8.how to print with freezer paperOnce the paint has dried remove the stencil carefully.

9.how to print with freezer paper

how to print with freezer paperIron the paint to set it and make it permanent. TIP: use some thin muslin over the top of your t-shirt – this enables you to use a hot iron without scorching your t-shirt and ensures no paint could find its way onto your iron!

10.how to print with freezer paperYour stenciled design is now fixed and permanent and your garment can be washed as normal.

If you don’t like the “reverse” or “negative” style of the stencil on my t-shirt, use the shape that was left behind when you cut out your stencil to get a “positive” image like this one:printing with freezer paper

Happy printing!

Find the first post in my Customising series here, it’s all about how to make and use Suffolk Puffs.





Customising: How to Make Suffolk Puffs (or Yo-Yo’s)

yoyo suffolk puff

The depths of January aka the perfect time of year for a slow sewing, hand sewing, frugal kind of project. Inspired by my recent post on ideas for using up your leftover fabrics, here’s a step-by-step tutorial for one of my stash-busting suggestions………

Suffolk Puffs (or yo-yo’s as they’re known in the US) come from the patchwork and quilting world where they’re traditionally joined together to make covers or used to decorate other items. They’re little discs of gathered up fabric and look great when made in lots of different fabrics and sizes. I’ll warn you now……they’re quite addictive making once you get started and they’re not just for quilters!

How to make yo-yo’s and Suffolk puffs:

1 – Make your template – the finished puff will turn out half the size of your template. (You can get puff makers, but having used one, personally I don’t think they make as nice a puff because you can’t get your gathering stitches small enough). suffolk puff instructions 12 – Choose your fabrics – lightweight cottons and silks work best – thicker fabrics won’t gather up so well and can become a bit bulky.

3 – Turn over a tiny (approx. 0.5cm) hem all around the edge of the circle of fabric towards the wrong side. Thread up a hand sewing needle with matching colour thread, make a knot at the end of the thread and sew a small (each stitch and gap approx. 0.5cm) running stitch with a single thread, not doubled (it’s more likely to get in a tangle if you use your thread doubled) all around the edge of the circle. suffolk puffs instructions 2

4 – When you get back to the start of your stitching draw up the running stitches to gather the fabric as tight as you can without snapping the thread!

TIP use synthetic thread not cotton – it’s stronger so won’t snap when you’re gathering your fabric. suffolk puff instructions 3

5 – Turn the puff through to the right side of the fabric before the gathering stitches close the hole. Close the hole as tightly as you can.

6 – The circle will turn into a little pouch! yoyo instructions 4

7 – Fasten off the end of your thread securely and flatten out the puff. I like to then give them a little iron to really flatten them and make them into little fabric discs.

yo-yo's detail

What to do with your yoyo’s and suffolk puffs:

You can then slip stitch them invisibly onto your garment by running your needle along the folded edge of the puff (you’ll have what looks like a line of running stitch on the inside of the garment.


They look great creeping across the front of a plain skirt or around the neck of a t-shirt!

yo-yo skirt

yo-yo's t-shirt

Make colour / pattern coordinated ones or make a rainbow of them with your fabric scraps – perfect for those tiny bits of super precious fabric that you keep hoarding.

Or, if you’re keen to get back on your sewing machine after all that hand sewing….


….tack them onto some water soluble fabric and join them together with some freehand machine embroidery.


Happy sewing and remember, I warned you they were addictive……I have a box full, most sewn while sat in front of the TV or on public transport!

Shop Your Stash – 4 Ways to Use Your Fabric Leftovers

uses for left over fabric

If you’ve been sewing for even just a few months, I’ll bet you’ve already started building up your own “stash”. A personal stock pile of fabrics that are either left over from past projects or yet to be cut into and patiently awaiting the “perfect” project. Eventually that stash will need a box, then a cupboard, then one day a room of its own, so get it under control right now!

This post is all about ideas for using up your smaller pieces of fabric, I’ll be writing another in which I’ll talk about teaming fabrics with the right patterns.

So, start using your fabric offcuts instead of hoarding them!

Colour blocking and panels / patch pockets in garments:

I love the challenge of using up small pieces of fabrics that aren’t big enough to make whole garments, in parts of garments. Your stash can make perfect contrast cuffs, collars, sleeve bands, hem bands, and why not add seams to garments so that you can piece fabrics together like in this version of my Walkley Vest pattern.

I’m also quite partial to a contrasting patch pocket like this one on the fishtail skirt from “Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking”.

beginners guide to dressmakingPicture © Julian Ward

Bias binding:

It’s so easy to make your own bias binding and if you use my continuous strip tutorial, you’ll be amazed just how much binding you can get out of a relatively small piece of fabric.

Facings and pocket linings:

If you’re not into contrast fabric details that are visible in your handmade garments, you can still use up that stash – facings and pocket linings are often the perfect size for those odd leftover pieces of fabric in your stash. You can add a secret little flash of contrast fabric on the inside of your garment that only you know about. It’s little details like these that make sewing your own clothes so satisfying!

Suffolk puffs and ruffles:

Suffolk puffs (or yoyo’s) are really easy to make from the smallest pieces of leftover fabrics and I’ve used them a lot as embellishments on garments. Admittedly, this is a long slow project, but the effects are worth it. Find my step-by-step tutorial for making them here.

A quicker embellishment idea is to use long strips of jersey, gathered along the centre of the strip and then stitched onto an otherwise plain garment.

Things to Watch Out For When Using Your Stash in Garment Making:

  • choose fabrics that are similar weights when combining them within a garment
  • make sure all the fabrics have been washed so that any loose dye has been washed out and any shrinkage has already happened
  • pay attention to the grainline – you still need to use your stash fabrics with the grainline in the right direction for your pattern, if you piece together fabrics with the grainline off in different directions, you’ll end up with puckered seams and stretched and / or distorted areas in your garment.