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If you’ve never used freezer paper when sewing, you’re in for a real treat! When I discovered all of the crafty uses of freezer paper years ago, I was so excited to try them out.
For instance, freezer paper can be printed on, used for tracing patterns, and ironed onto fabric. It even has a place in applique and quilting and can be cut with a Cricut. Overall, I think my favorite time to use freezer paper is when sewing doll clothes. Printing directly onto the paper and ironing the pattern pieces onto the fabric makes cutting those tiny pieces so much easier!
Now, let me show you 6 ways to use freezer paper in sewing!
What is freezer paper?
Freezer paper is a plastic-coated, relatively thick paper commonly used to wrap meat and other foods destined for the freezer to seal in moisture. One side of the freezer paper is shiny and waxy, and the other side is dull like plain paper. Freezer paper is relatively inexpensive and easy to store.
Reynolds makes the most common type of kitchen freezer paper available at your local box store. While this comes in 18″ width there are many other brands and sizes of freezer paper available!
Freezer Paper for Sewing – 6 Uses
Here are 6 things you can do with freezer paper to help make your sewing easier! After this list, I’ll give a short tutorial for each use.
- Printing patterns directly onto freezer paper
- Cutting patterns or shapes with a Cricut
- Using freezing paper instead of tracing paper when tracing patterns
- Ironing freezer paper pattern pieces onto fabric
- Machine applique
- Quilt piecing
1. How to Print Patterns On Freezer Paper
One fun thing I learned about freezer paper is you can print online sewing patterns and applique templates directly onto it!
To print onto freezer paper, cut your freezer paper down to pieces sized 8.5″x11″. (Or, you can buy freezer paper sheets precut for you!)
Then, feed the sheets of freezer paper straight into your printer! I print directly onto the less shiny side of the freezer paper. First, because the ink dries more quickly and doesn’t smear. And second, you don’t have to worry about ink transfer to the fabric when you later iron the shiny side down onto it.
My Epson inkjet printer prints beautifully onto freezer paper! (Make sure you’re using an inkjet and not a laser printer.) However, if you are having issues with the paper feeding, instead of loading the freezer paper sheets into your printer tray, try feeding the paper in yourself piece by piece. If you’re still having issues with stability, next try taping the sides of the freezer paper to an 8.5″x11″ piece of copy paper. Then, feed that into your printer.
2. Using Freezer Paper with a Cricut or Other Die Cutting Machine
If you are able to download an SVG file or know how to convert JPG or PNG image files to an SVG, you can also cut freezer paper with a Cricut. I like to do this with my Cricut Maker if I’m able to find patterns that come with compatible files.
A Cricut is great for cutting out doll clothes patterns and also other small sewing projects, including applique. The max mat size of the Cricut Maker is 12″x24″ so all pattern pieces do need to be smaller than this.
Overall, it’s really fun and time-saving to load a pattern to Cricut Design Space and then have it cut the pieces out. No tracing or manual cutting needed!
3. How to Use Freezer Paper for Tracing Sewing Patterns
Since freezer paper is also semi-transparent, it can be used in place of tracing paper when tracing patterns. This means, if you have a paper pattern that you don’t want to cut and instead want to trace, you can trace it onto freezer paper. Since freezer paper doesn’t come in huge widths, you will be limited in what you can trace in one piece, though.
When you go to trace a sewing pattern onto freezer paper, first place the paper pattern on your table, and then lay the freezer paper on top with the waxy side down. It is much easier to trace on the dull side of the freezer paper, and you don’t want to transfer marks to your fabric later when pressing.
Since freezer paper is more opaque than many other tracing papers, it helps to have the sewing pattern on a white background. If you still have issues seeing the lines, you can also hold it up to a window, which makes everything very visible!
Just make sure you’re tracing your pattern pieces in the right orientation. If you’re planning to iron the waxy side of the freezer paper to the back of your fabric, make sure you’ve mirrored, if needed.
4. How to Iron Freezer Paper To Fabric Before Cutting
After you’ve printed or traced your pattern onto freezer paper, cut the pieces of the pattern out using paper scissors. (Don’t use your sewing scissors!)
Then, place the pieces onto the back, wrong-side of your fabric with the shiny, waxy side down. Now, if you’ve never tried this before on a certain type of fabric, test a small area first! This only works well on fabrics that can tolerate pressing at high heat. Quilting cotton and other basic, woven fabrics like linen, poplin, and broadcloth are perfect for adhering to freezer paper. More delicate fabrics like velvet and silk may not be the best candidates for freezer paper.
To adhere the freezer paper to your fabric, set your iron to the highest setting your fabric will tolerate, shut off the steam, and place the iron over the freezer paper. Press for up to 15 seconds. (I always press instead of iron. If you move the iron around while trying to adhere freezer paper, small pieces may move around instead of sticking!)
Remove the iron and let the fabric cool. Then, gently tug a corner of the paper to determine if it’s adhered well enough. If it isn’t, repeat the pressing for a longer time period.
Once you’ve pressed the freezer paper to your satisfaction, cut out your fabric pieces using fabric scissors. When you’re done cutting, peel your freezer paper off and transfer any fabric markings with your preferred method.
5. Using Freezer Paper for Applique
When using freezer paper for applique, you can print an applique pattern directly onto freezer paper, or you can print onto copy paper and trace onto freezer paper first.
Then, cut the applique pattern out of the freezer paper to make an applique template. Depending on the thickness of the applique template you want, you can actually cut multiple sheets of freezer paper to fuse together! Just remember to check that you don’t need to make a mirror image of your applique design if you’ve made it yourself.
Once you’ve gotten your piece(s) cut out, adhere this template to the back of your applique fabric with a hot iron as described above. Let cool.
Then, cut the fabric out after it has cooled, leaving a small seam allowance, usually 1/4″-3/8″. Turn the fabric edges against the edge of the freezer paper template, and clip or notch as needed.
Press your seam allowances on top of the template. (Spray starch on a paintbrush can help!) Once the fabric is cool, remove the freezer paper, press once more, and admire your applique. (One other fun thing about freezer paper applique templates is you can use them multiple times before you need to prep another one!)
If you’re doing this for an embroidery machine applique, you likely won’t need the 1/4″ seam allowance.
6. Using Freezer Paper for Quilt Piecing
You can also use freezer paper when doing paper piecing for quilting! You use the same pattern that you’d use for paper piecing, but instead of sewing through the paper, you press the fabric onto your freezer paper template and cut each shape out in order, adding an extra 1/4″ for the seam allowance and stitching right up against the freezer paper. Check out this freezer paper piecing tutorial for all the details if you’re a quilter extraordinaire.
Freezer vs Parchment Paper for Sewing Patterns
Is parchment paper a substitute for freezer paper? Yes and no. Yes, you can still use parchment paper for tracing and printing patterns just like freezer paper, but no, it’s not going fuse to fabric like freezer paper will. Since parchment paper is identical on both sides, it is missing the waxy, coated side that helos freezer paper to stick to fabric when pressed.
Find any new cool uses?
Well, that’s a wrap on how to use freezer paper to make sewing, quilting, embroidery, and applique easier! See, I told you there were so many uses for freezer paper!