DIY Freezer Paper Shirt – in Reverse

Happy Wednesday, mamas!  I have a lot going on this week.  I am guest-posting today for my friend Bobbi over at Dat’s So Cute, who may or may not be welcoming an addition to her family right now as you are reading this.  You’ll find an encore presentation of the no-sew fabric pumpkin today, which was a really popular project of mine.  (Side note, I love finding myself on Pinterest!!)  In addition to seeing yours truly, she has a really fabulous blog with some great projects to check out – so hop on over and say hello, if you have a moment, and wish Bobbi and her family well! 

I am also featured at Imprintalish as an October Sponsor today.  I cannot figure out how Lish makes everything so beautiful!  Even her simple introductory post today makes me look better than I am able to present myself, LOL!  I wish I had her eye for design!

So now that I’m back to feeling plain… I have a project for you mamas.  Earlier this week, I posted a tutorial about how to use freezer paper and fabric paint to create your own t-shirt designs. It’s not a new idea, but it’s such a versatile project that creates a really professional-looking result. Today, I’m going to show you mamas a twist on it and do it in reverse for a totally different look.  This takes the same method but gives you a worn-in look, rather than the crisp and clean lines by using paint.

The great part about freezer paper, if you haven’t worked with it before, is that one side is paper and one side is waxed. You can trace, draw, and I’ve heard you can even print from your printer (though I haven’t been brave enough to try it myself). Then, you can iron the waxy side onto your fabric, and it peels off at the end of the project with no residue.

Not the most flattering of photos, I know, but my husband’s skills lie in areas far from photography.  Fortunately, his skills are delicious, and I will take that any day. :)?

Bleached Freezer Paper Shirt

Time: 15 minutes for the project and cleanup, 1-2 hours drying time


  • Old T-shirt in any color except white
  • Freezer paper and a design in mind to draw or trace
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Spray bottle
  • Bleach – you don’t need much, less than an ounce
  • Plastic bag/newspaper/cardboard to keep your bleach from bleeding through the backside of your shirt

I found this pack of little foam skulls at the dollar store, so I used it as my template.

I traced it and cut it out. Unlike the traditional tutorial, this time we are going to use the design itself, and not its outline, so focus on your design while you’re trimming, and not its outline. 

I used an exacto knife to cut the eyes, nose and mouth out. Then I ironed my skull onto my t-shirt. I used a meduim-high setting.

I put maybe an ounce of bleach in my spray bottle – just enough so that it would spray smoothly. (I would not recommend using a spray bottle that you use regularly for other things, like ironing or anything you shouldn’t bleach) in case you have any remaining bleach in the bottle after rinsing it out.)

I brought my project outside so I didn’t get bleach on anything. I stuffed the inside of my shirt with a plastic bag so that the bleach didn’t bleed through to the back of my shirt.

I pumped my bottle a couple times to make sure I had a smooth spray, then I spritzed the front of the shirt. Now, I didn’t mind the little drips. That’s sort of the look I’m going for. So I just sprayed the shirt directly, and fairly closely. If you want more of an even look, spray your shirt from farther away.

Then, I let it dry outside for maybe 30 minutes. I peeled the skull off, thinking it was dry enough. It wasn’t. The damp paper should have clued me in.  It didn’t hurt the design at all to remove the freezer paper – but what I did learn from project attempt 1.0 is not to soak your shirt too much, or you lose the crispness of the edges – spray it a few times and let it dry.  Instead of looking at the shirt to judge how much bleach you’ve used, use your paper as a guide, and don’t dampen it quite this much.  If it dries, and you want more bleach at that point, spray it again.  I think mine still looks good, but I could have done better.

It still looks rather dark in this photo, but it lightened up a lot after this (see below – that’s the same amount of bleach, just at different stages of the project), so keep in mind that if you want a less-bleached design, to quit well before you have the effect you want.  Once you remove your paper, run your shirt through the laundry to make sure the bleach is out before you wear it.

And here is the finished project. 

In hindsight, I would have used a larger design since my spray was quite wide.  That’s a good thing to test out too, maybe on the cement outside before you start – check how best to get the spray you’re going for, whether it’s close-up, direct spray, a light misting – whatever you like the looks of.  But I am still really happy with my new Halloween shirt experiment.  I’m especially happy that I got it for $4 off the clearance rack, making this an excellent thrifty project!

~ Adrianne

I link to these fabulous parties!


  1. Mommy Bags says

    Man how are all you lovey ladies so dang crafty. I am slowly getting into it it takes a bit ti get used to it. Thank you for stopping by my blog I am now returning the favor. Happy Hump Day

  2. Design DNA says

    This is really cool! I'm so going to try this out, thanks for sharing. I'd love for you to show it off at our Halloween Link Party.

    Corie @ Design DNA

  3. Scrappy Sugar Girl says

    I ruined my son's shirt he made at school. This is a great and easy way to make amends.

  4. Scrappy Sugar Girl says

    I visited both of your feature sites and saw your Germ Guard project(July 20 entry). First of all, how adorable is Raya?! She makes me want to have another baby.
    When you have more time you should sell this and your pillows on Etsy.

  5. Gwen says

    This is the first time I've seen the “reverse” method. How cool! I wonder if you could use a white shirt and mist RIT Dye over it…hmm…

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