During our trip to Disneyworld, we all fell in love with the Haunted Mansion. It's a little dark, a little silly, and a lot of awesome. Also, it has doom buggies. To this day, the boys still randomly break into chants of doooooooooom buggy, dooooooooooom buggy, dooooooooom buggy.
But I digress. Since the Haunted Mansion ranked as one of Matthew's favorite memories of the trip and since nothing says "happy birthday" quite like an experimental craft project, I decided to try my hand at making him a Hitchhiking Ghosts shirt with a bleach stencil technique.
I started out by doing a google image search on Haunted Mansion Hitchhiking ghosts. I had initally planned on finding an image and using Photoshop to turn it into a solid image, but I came across an Etsy shop selling the .PNG files of the ghost outlines for $3. SOLD. If you're looking to do a different character (especially one that's more mainstream!), try searching for the character's name + silhouette or clip art. Bold, simple images will work best.
Once I had my image, I opened it in Silhouette Studio and traced the .PNG file so I could use it to cut my stencil. I cut my freezer paper to fit on the mat of my Silhouette Cameo, and cut away. My Cameo had no trouble cutting the paper, but you may want to have a fresh blade on hand - just in case.
I wanted this shirt to have a simple, vintage feel. I found a heathered charcoal tee at Target, and opted to use the negative of my stencil. I ironed the freezer paper onto the shirt, using the positive of the cuts to help line up the little in between pieces around the two outer ghosts arms.
When I had read up on the bleach technique, I found that the most common application was to spray it on to the shirt. Since I wanted a bit more control and to have more of a solid look, I found a foam brush and used that to apply the bleach. I made a 50/50 mix of bleach and water and brushed it on - and found that less is NOT more here. It's best to work fast and apply the bleach liberally - just be sure to use a piece of cardboard under the front of your shirt so it doesn't bleed through to the back! As I watched it fade the fabric, I went back over the spots that didn't get as much of the bleach on the first pass, and after about 15 seconds I peeled off the fabric paper and held my breath. I'd been *really* worried the bleach would seep under the edges and mess up the design. Rinse the shirt in cold water immediately, and then wash it as soon as possible. I threw mine in with white towels - I was a little paranoid about leftover bleach.
It didn't!! The edges are crisp. I love that there's a bit of variation in the bleached design - it lends itself well to the vintage feel. The finished shirt is subtle - it doesn't scream Disney - but the design will be a dead giveaway (HA) to any Haunted Mansion fans that Matthew runs into.
Now that I've had a taste of freezer paper stencil success, I can't wait to try this technique again! I also want to share an awesome twist on it. If you hop over to Nicole Samuels' blog, she's sharing a similar technique using fabric paint! We thought it would be fun to team up to share these ideas together, so be sure to visit her blog and see her take on it. I saw a preview of her shirts on her Instagram last December, and I can't wait to find out where she found her character art.
Have you tried a freezer paper stencil technique? If you give it a try, I'd love to see!