This technique is far from new but sometimes it's good to have a little reminder that it's possible. I'm sure it would be a lot easier to do with a Cricut or a Silhouette or something. I don't have one of those, so I use the good old freezer-paper-and-scissors method. Printing like this is a great way to personalize shirts or other fabrics without a lot of cost. The onesie I used in the pictures has an intended purpose. It'll be super cute when it's done. I'll make sure to post a tutorial for that when the time comes.
Before you begin make sure to pre-wash your fabric. The onesie I used shrunk quite a bit after its first washing. I'm just glad I knew that before I started this project.
Item to be painted
Your chosen design
Scissors or craft knife
Paint and something to apply it
I decided this little onesie needed a makeover and that it would include an animal print. I wanted words and a graphic and thought the leopard paw was a good idea. Play with the design on your computer to make sure it's what you want. Be prepared to print and adjust your design once or twice. Once it's printed you'll be able to see if the design needs to be bigger or smaller.
When your design is ready it's time to trace it on the freezer paper. Place the shiny side of the freezer paper against the right side of the design. Trace, trace, trace! I've also put the freezer paper directly into the printer and done it that way. It saves time but it does not allow for any mind-changing. Tracing the design also allows you to use the original page as a reference page if you need one.
Now cut out the positive space (the stuff you want colored) from the design. If you want it to show up on the shirt you need to cut it out of the freezer paper. A craft knife will do a great job of only cutting out the area you intend to paint. I don't have a craft knife (because they're sooo expensive, right? Sure.) so I just cut through the paper and then make sure to iron it back in place on the fabric. You run the risk of having the paint seep through the cuts. You can decide if the risk is worth it to you.
Once the cutting is complete it's time to iron it all on. Set the iron to a high setting. Place the design on the onesie with the shiny side of the freezer paper DOWN (against the fabric). Gently press and iron the design until the paper sticks to the fabric.
Place something between the layers of fabric so the paint won't bleed through. I used a storage lid because it looked like it fit well. Apply the paint on the fabric. I used a sponge brush, but makeup sponges from the grocery store also work well and are super cheap. Don't be afraid of getting pant on the paper; you're just going to peel the paper off. When you've covered the design as much as you want, set the fabric aside. You don't want the paint to smear.
After about 10 minutes you can take the freezer paper off the fabric. Do NOT wait until the paint is fully dry to take the freezer paper off. Bits of freezer paper like to stick when the paint is dry. It make those little pieces a bear to get off. Using a pair of tweezer can make the removal process easier. There's just something ultra-satisfying about peeling away the paper bits. I don't know why--there just is.
Let dry for 24 hours before wearing or washing. There you have it! It's cheap, it's easy, and it's fun. I even find the cutting mildly therapeutic. Is that weird?