Bat Shirt

Use freezer paper to make stencils for a one-of-a-kind holiday shirt

When Halloween falls on a workday, I like to wear a low-key T-shirt to the office.

Lately it’s been hard to buy something in the store, because somehow the holiday has been taken over by either extremely gory or extremely slutty fashion.

Earlier this year I stencil painted a t-shirt using some leftover vinyl from a project. I had a little trouble transferring the vinyl from my cutting mat to the shirt, and I had asked a fellow crafter about that, and she responded “Freezer Paper.”

Well, that turned out to be a ton of fun. A roll of freezer paper is about $4.o0, and it’s way, way, way more than you’ll ever need. In case you aren’t familiar with it (I wasn’t) – freezer paper is in the wraps and foils aisle at the grocery store, and it is paper on one side with a plastic coating on the other. This isn’t wax paper – that is waxy on both sides. The concept here is that you use an iron to lightly melt the plastic side to your shirt. It sticks firmly enough to work as a stencil, but is then easy to peel away when the paint is dry.

And it’s super easy to use. I had seen a cute piece of artwork which featured a bat and the phrase “Going Batty.” Of course, if you know me, the “going” part is not true. So when I created mine, I left that off.

I drew up the bat and stretched and squished the letters to fit inside. I also typed up the date “31” in a cool font.  I exported that file as a DXF.

Cut files for a bat shirt

In Silhouette Studio, I brought in the files and added a rectangle around each one. You have to think a little backwards when you are cutting a stencil – it’s the inside part that is going to get painted, while the paper will protect the fabric. So leaving a good margin around the artwork helps you keep the paint where you want it.

I cut a piece of freezer paper the size of my Silhouette mat. It actually only has to be straight on two sides (the top and left). I put mine paper side down. Because I did that, I needed to mirror my type so when placed it will be right-reading.

I set up my cut settings for vinyl (because someone recommended that) and then cut my two stencils. I then put my T-shirt on and looked in the mirror while I stuck a pink post-it note on the inside part of the chest where I wanted the bat stencil to go. Placement here isn’t super critical, I just wanted to avoid having it placed too low, or where I didn’t everyone to look (if you know what I mean 😉 ) I pinned that note so it wouldn’t fall off and then put the shirt on my ironing board. I was then able to see through the shirt to that post-it to position the stencil.

Ironing on the freezer paper for a bat shirt
If you look closely you can see the pink post-it note I stuck on the inside to figure out where I wanted the location for the artwork.

With a dry iron on the “Cotton” setting I ironed on the bat stencil first, and then carefully placed the little letters inside. I used the tip of the iron to touch the top of each letter so they’d stay put, and then went back and put the whole heat of the iron on all the letters to seal them well. I used more of a pressing motion than a normal ironing motion to get everything set.

A cut up piece of cereal box separated the front from the back of my shirt and I sponge daubed on some black fabric paint. After it dried I peeled up the paper and let it dry another 24 hours before ironing it inside out, as per the fabric paint directions.

Freezer paper stencil bat shirt

After thinking about it, I decided the back needed to be decorated, too, so I repeated those steps to create a design that flew along the back up to the shoulder.

Stencils for back of bat shirt
Notice something different between the front cutting file shot and the back? Yup. I got brave and upgraded to Silhouette Studio 4.0

And now I have a unique shirt to wear on Halloween. I made mine on a short sleeved T-shirt to try and outwit the Kansas fall weather – if it’s unseasonably warm, I’m set, and if it is cool, I can wear a long sleeve black T-shirt underneath.

Back view of the bat shirt | suzerspace.com

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