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Craft Fail: Freezer Paper Stenciled T-shirt (Part 1 of 2)

An integral part of doing anything well, is failing. Some things I do turn out well, but sometimes they don’t, despite my best intentions. One good example of this happened a few weekends ago. I was so bummed that I even wrote on Facebook how down I felt about it the day after. I mean, I understand burning a cake, because I forgot to set the timer, or a sewing fail because I’m a beginner, but freezer paper stenciling a shirt? C’mon! I’m practically an expert at it (yeah right)!

Anyway, I felt sad, because it was a project for my sister’s birthday that was already late. Her favorite color is purple and she has a penchant for butterflies. A while ago, I picked up a pretty set of purple and pink butterfly decals for her room, but I wanted to add something else, something handmade.

I bought a purple t-shirt and decided to stencil some matching butterflies on it. Below are a couple designs I came up with. It was a tough decision. Both A & B were nice, but my sister has long hair which would obscure B, and sits in a wheelchair which might partially obscure A, so then I came up with C: a few butterflies on the back of her left shoulder, which would be unique and sweet, a lot like she is.

Once decided, I got out my supplies and got to work.

Here is the stencil cut out from the freezer paper, using an x-acto knife:

And here is where it all went wrong…

When I opened the screen printing ink, I found it mostly dried out (it was a few years old, after all). My gut reaction was to run to the art supply store and buy another jar, but then I read on the label “thin with water as needed.” Okay, I’d give that a try. It was a gloppy mess, but I only needed to cover a small area, right? So, I ironed down the stencil, let it cool and applied a layer of ink.

Besides being dried up, I had forgotten something vital. This ink color was transparent. It worked great on white or light colors, but I wanted opaque “sit-on-top” coverage (magenta on purple). So, once I peeled off the stencil, instead of a nice solid top color, it looked like a stain…

Noooooooooooo!

As I said, I was hoping to have that shirt dry and out the door the next day, but instead – CRAFT FAIL! Even now I still have the decals sitting on my desk because I haven’t found another gift to go with it. Hopefully something will turn up, and soon.

Sorry, sis.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share this here. Life happens. Things go wrong, but crafting goes on. And to prove this, come back tomorrow for Part 2, and find out what happened to that poor purple shirt.

How do you cope with craft fails or failure in general? Do you just roll with it? Do you try again right away or put it off for a while (or permanently) like I sometimes do? Where do you find inspiration and encouragement to keep on going?

“If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down.” รขโ‚ฌโ€œ Mary Pickford

 


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Wall Decor: Chalkboard Birds on a String

This morning I noticed some incoming links that led to a very cute Chalkboard Birds on a String wall decor project from the blog Confessions of a Plate Addict. I was so thrilled to read that she used my bird silhouette stencils (originally from this project) for her pattern! How cool is that!! Seeing how other people use the elements from this blog, especially to make their own creations, gives me the best feeling. I’m glad to know that my effort here is meaningful beyond my own enjoyment. Big smile here!

P.S. Reading the name Confessions of a Plate Addict cracks me up, because back in 2007 (pre-kids!) I wrote a post called My New Favorite Mug and Other Dinnerware Confessions. Re-reading it I am half-amused and half-horrified to find I still have almost all that stuff I mentioned, including the Thanksgiving ceramic butter dish with the little turkey handle on the lid (that has never been used and is still in its original box)! O.M.G.

I still like that mug, though. ๐Ÿ™‚


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Making Freezer Paper Stencils (free pdf download)


What do you think of Chloe’s new tee shirt? See below to download the dragonfly stencil.

Freezer paper stencils are awesome! Not as “perfect” as screen printing, but easy and fun for single projects just the same. Watch out family, you may all be getting stenciled items for Christmas this year…

Wading through all the tutorials available, I found this one to be pretty helpful. Originally, I hadn’t been able to find freezer paper at my local supermarket (although I did see it recently at Fred Meyer). I opted to go with the large freezer paper sheets from Dharma Trading Post, since I was going to order some t-shirt blanks anyway (1,2,3,4). The nice thing about the rolls though, is you can make your stencil any length, but I think I read somewhere that craft freezer paper may have a better bond.

I’ve tried two brands of ink so far – Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Ink (which my husband already had from previous screen printing projects) and Jacquard Professional Screen Printing Ink. I don’t know if the Speedball ink was just too old, but it took two applications to get good coverage. Afterwards, the directions say to iron for 3-5 minutes on each side to set, which seemed like a really long time. I prefer the Jacquard. It applied better, nicely staining the fabric, and just needed one application for full coverage. Plus, it only took 1 minute to heat set.

While some of the ideas shown above are mine, others came from places like Arthur’s Silhouette Clipart Plants and Animals and Briar Press. I’d love to hear in the comments section if anyone has a favorite, because sometimes I just can’t decide. Also, Greta was sweet to post a photo of the yellow butterfly top and matching socks I made for her daughter Ava’s first birthday. Want to make your own butterfly, dragonfly or flower shirt?

**Click here to download the free stencil pdf.**

Postscript: I also have bird silhouette templates available to download that I made for another project, which would also work well as freezer paper stencils.

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