Stenciled Cardigan Tutorial

Stenciled Cardigan by Less Cake More Frosting

Am I about to post something on ACTUAL UCREATE? Is this a dream? No. It can’t be. If this was a dream I would be auditioning for American Idol, in my underwear, and not know what song I’m going to sing. So I guess this is FOR REAL!

Hi! My name is Ellie G and I blog at Less Cake {more frosting}.

I love to be honest about what’s really going on. So here’s some honesty for you. *Ellie G isn’t my real name.  It’s my initials (LG) My friends call me Lara. *I drink at least 4 Diet Cokes EVERY day. *I have 2 great kids, and I NEVER thought I wanted to be a Mom. *I can eat disgusting amounts of sugar.  Including frosting. *I rarely get dressed before noon. *I have an inch of dust in my closet. But everything in there has a labeled bin. It’s a special kind of OCD. *I pretend I’m famous.  Or Scarlett O’Hara. *I want to move to Sesame Street and knock off Maria. *I would actually die without my iPod. *I would marry Mickey Mouse if some state would make it legal to marry cartoon characters.

There you go!  That’s me!  In a nutshell.  Too much?  Oh dear!  There’s so much more!

Like, how I love to make things.  Not CRAFT just make things, and be creative.  I kind of have an aversion to the word “CRAFT”.  But that’s an issue I’m trying to deal with. Lately I’ve been in LOVE with fabric painting and freezer paper stenciling.  The possibilities for creativity and personalization are ENDLESS!  I may admit to staying up late at night envisioning ways to paint my kids shirts.

  • Freezer Paper can be found in most Grocery Stores.  It’s usually kind of hidden on the bottom shelf by the aluminum foil and plastic wrap.  It’s NOT wax paper.
  • It has one dull side, and one waxy side that adheres to fabric and makes a tight seal for stenciling.  Then, when you’re done, it just peels away.
  • You can cut it with scissors, an exacto knife, or my favorite way….with a digital cutter.  I use my Silhouette (whom I’ve named Miss Scarlett).  The digital cutter opens a whole new level of detail into stenciling projects, and it’s SO SUPER FUN!

The idea for this project came when I was watching some pre-teen show on the Disney Channel with my 8 year old.  Don’t tell that super cute 15 year old girl from the show, that an old “MOMMY” thought her sweater was super cute. But I did. And I knew I could make one. I started with a plain cardigan. Hers was navy, mine is a deep plum.  But I really like the idea of a dark color to start.

I cut out my designs with Miss Scarlett.  Be aware that cutting freezer paper can be a bit of a trial and error.  Gratefully, it’s SUPER cheap.  So if it gets torn, just try again.

  • Don’t forget that you’ll be using the “negative” space.  So you’ll need to keep any tiny insert pieces that make the pattern work.
  • It’s also helpful to note that patterns with TONS of little pieces are super time consuming.  Not impossible.  Just time consuming.
  • Next, I cut out my individual designs, and placed them where I thought they’d look good.
  • Then iron the paper (waxy side down) steam OFF!

Note that for this sweater, the iron needed to be on a lower temp than I usually use for T-shirt or canvas material.  If it’s too hot it will burn the fibers.  Don’t ask how I know that.  Just take my word for it.

You can use regular fabric paints.  Or, you can purchase a fabric “medium”.

  • It can be added to ANY acrylic paint to make it fabric safe, and washable.  It also makes the paint more pliable for fabric.  So it doesn’t get “crusty”.
  • I would recommend a little extra for sweaters.  Particularly because you’ll probably be using a LOT of coats.

Paint your stencils with a sponge brush.  Being careful not to pull.  More of a “dabbing” motion works. I also put some kind of paper or towel inside my item to make sure the paint doesn’t bleed through to the back.

After the last coat, when you’re happy with the color, peel off the freezer paper.

  • I like to use tweezers to help with little parts, and to avoid getting my hand in wet paint.

I really like how it turned out!  Particularly taking the design around to the back a little bit. …..Whatever, 15 year old children…..I’m cool!

I also ripped off the boring buttons and replaced them with buttons that match the painted area. They aren’t even all the same size. Kind of ecclectic, and fun. Pair it with some fun long necklaces or some vintage-ee earrings, and you’re suddenly hip like all the kids.

(this post officially brought to you by my aging.  And Depends!)

Come visit me ANYTIME.  I’d love to have you!  And don’t tell me you can’t because you don’t like frosting.  Because you can give yours to me!  And those that give me their frosting are my best friends for life!  :) Thanks so much, Kari for letting me crash your amazing creative digs for today.  I kind of adore you.  Like, I’d drink Hot Chocolate into the wee hours of the morning with you.  Or eat rich desserts with you. Or share our life stories over Chips and Salsa.  Just sayin’.  I would.


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  1. says

    Ummmm… how fast can I add your blog to my Google reader? Apparently, 2.2 seconds. This was a FANTASTIC tutorial! I gotta do this. For reals. And hopefully my 11 yr old daughter won’t notice that I knocked off the sweater of a 15 yr old Disney chicklet.

  2. says

    Kari, this is just so exciting! I woke up, not sure if it was up, and here it is! YAY! You are truly the best. And to let me take over for a few hours? Man. I owe you something. I like to pay in food and treats. So just let me know….Sugar Cookies? They’re good. I swear!

    Big hugs to you! Have a great day. And THANKS AGAIN!

  3. says

    I just have to say I love this!!! Super easy and a great explanation with the freezer paper. I had seen others say they use but no “how to” so thanks! And you can bet my Cricut will be meeting the freezer paper in the near future!

  4. says

    OOOOOHHHH! I LOVE it! I love how you can change any old sweater to something cool to wear. I love how you can choose your own colors, I love how you told me exactly where to get freezer paper – I’ve been wondering where to get this amazing creation necessity!
    Thanks for sharing!

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