DIY Mermaid Shirt Using Freezer Paper Iron-on Stencils


Phew. That title is a mouthful.

Even though I have a pretty extensive collection of The Little Mermaid shirts, I’ve never owned one of the iconic seashell shirts. I’ve been searching around the world wide web, but unfortunately I am cheap and broke. Fortunately, I am craftier than the average person.

I’m using a technique I learned about a few years ago to decorate shirts with the help of freezer paper. I promise you it is so easy, even a fish could do it! (There’s a theme with this post, have you figured it out yet?)



  • A t-shirt. I bought mine at Walmart for $4.
  • Freezer Paper (If you don’t know what this is, ask your mom. She will know. She always knows.)
  • Iron
  • Xacto Knife
  • Scissors (I have fabric scissors for cutting my shirt and regular scissors for cutting the freezer paper.)
  • Paint
  • Spongey Paintbrush thing (Does this have a name??)

Step 1: Prep your t-shirt. Make any cuts or alterations to your shirt to allow for a more flattering fit. I bought a very cheap t-shirt, knowing that I was going to cut it up.


The cuts you make will depend on your own personal preference. I cut around the hems of the neckline and armholes and cut the bottom to make a crop top. I recommend cutting a little bit at a time and continually testing the fit. (“Measure twice, crop once”, as they say.)

Alternatively, if you have sewing skills, you could alter your shirt in a less “getting ready for the high school dance” kind of way.

Or even better, buy a shirt that already fits the way you want!

But like I said before, I’m cheap.

Step 2: Print your design onto the freezer paper. I cut a piece of freezer paper slightly smaller than a sheet of printer paper. Then I taped the freezer paper shiny side down to a printer-sized sheet of card stock, using a little bit of tape on the short edges. The cardstock helps feed the freezer paper through the printer. Load your new freezer paper/card stock creation into your printer to ensure the image is printed onto the freezer paper, not the card stock.


I choose a very simple shell outline image by googling “shell outline”. Groundbreaking work here at Sarah Ashlyn’s Blog You can do any image you want, keeping in mind you will need to cut it out so nothing too crazy.


Alternatively, if you have any artistic talent, you could draw a design onto the freezer paper. Although, I guess at that point you don’t really need a fabric stencil.

Step 3: Begin the painstakingly long process of cutting out your image. I used an exacto knife and cut out the black parts of the image. In this case, the black image is what I want to appear on my shirt, so I’m creating a stencil.


Step 4: Place your stencils shiny side down where you want your image to be on the shirt. Warm up your iron on a dry setting (no need to get steamy here). My technique is to just drop the iron straight down onto one part of the image, making sure all small details are laying properly. Hold the iron for a few seconds and then repeat on each section of the stencil, just placing the iron straight down and holding. Once you’ve ironed every part, then you could go back over for a final sweep.

Step 5: Place a piece of cardboard inside the shirt, underneath where you are painting to prevent bleeding. I completely forgot to do this and now there are purple splotches on the back of my shirt. But oh well, you’d never know with the beauty of Instagram. Still, DON’T MAKE THE SAME PAINFUL MISTAKES AS I DID.

Paint in your stencil with the the spongey brush using a light dabbing motion. The dabbing technique is less likely to disturb the stencil placement than brush strokes so your lines will be much crisper.


Step 6: Once you’ve completely filled in your image, begin slowly pulling up the stencil. I don’t really have a technique for this. Just go slow and don’t mess up.


Step 7: Give your shirt adequate time to dry and then you’re good to go, you beautiful, sexy mermaid! 😉

I ended up adding another cut up one of the side seams to create a little tying action.

I finished the project at about 1 am the other night and I just hated it and I hated myself for making such garbage. But I woke up the next morning, tried it on again and thought “Could’ve done worse, I guess.” So next time you think you’ve made a craft failure, sleep on it and you’ll probably wake up in a more complacent mood! #sarahsmotivationaladvice

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Now go celebrate your successful crafting because you mer-made it!


Laugh at my jokes please.

XOXO Sarah Ashlyn


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