Freezer paper changed my life as a designer. Seriously! I know that’s a sort of dramatic statement, but I’m standing by it.
I first heard about freezer paper from Mimi Kirchner. In 2006 she published this post showing how she sews really detailed doll hands and fingers by machine and from that point on I’ve drafted every one of my patterns on freezer paper. I buy freezer paper at the grocery store near the aluminum foil. (I’ve heard it’s not available in Australian grocery stores. Freezer paper and wax paper are not the same.) You can also get it on Amazon and I’ve had my eye on this huge roll with the cutter!
To begin, tear off a sheet and draw on the matte side. Cut it out and iron it glossy side down onto your fabric. And then stitch around it! Having the paper still adhered to the fabric allows you to sew curvy shapes really accurately, even through this fabrics like wool and fleece.
I made a 2-minute video to show you how I use freezer paper to sew detailed softie parts. Here I’m stitching a doll’s hand and little tiny thumb. The fabric is fleece, which is rather thick, but with this method it’s a breeze to sew.
Okay, here we go!
The doll in the video is Emma (grab the pattern here).
You’ll notice that I just cut the fabric roughly around the shape of the template. Once I’m finished stitching and I pull the template off, I trim the excess fabric close to the seam line (usually 1/8″ away from the seam to reduce bulk) and clip the curves before turning the piece right side out.
You can save freezer paper templates and use them over and over again. I’ve used some of mine at least 20 times before they quit adhering to the fabric when ironed. Once that happens, just trace them onto a new sheet of freezer paper! Freezer paper doesn’t leave any residue behind on the fabric.
I hope you’ll give freezer paper a try the next time you sew a softie!
I agree freeze paper is wonderful when working with small doll pieces.
Awesome video, especially since I had never seen how anyone else goes around tight curves, like that thumb, on a sewing machine!
I learned about freezer paper at least 10 years ago (maybe more!) from my mom, an avid quilter, who often uses it for appliqué. i think a lot of people use it for cutting out garment patterns on knits or slippery fabrics. I used it once on satin to make my daughter a fancy top to wear to a piano recital, and it worked SO much better than pinning or tracing the pattern.
Great video – thanks for that. Another great use for freezer paper. I bought a large roll some years ago from an online store here in Australia – to buy individual sheets from a store is just too pricey, I thought. The original use was for applique, which I still do. My roll is still going and I use it so often for all sorts of sewing including little felt dolls and toys. I cut sheets an A4 size, which is our printer paper size here and print out the patterns – so no tracing!
If a major supermarket here in Australia ever decides to stock Freezer Paper – they would make a fortune! (from patchwork quilters). It’s so expensive to buy on-line, though I did pick up one roll at a US Food Store here in Melbourne. Thanks, I really enjoy reading your blog, I learn so much (most recently, about Pocket) – thanks for sharing your knowledge. Cheers, Lisa
They sure would!
Aren’t Mimi’s dolls cute?!
You can also make your freezer paper templates a bit stronger by ironing two layers of freezer paper (right side to wrong side) before cutting out your template. It makes it a bit thicker and longer lasting. Most of the time I’m not reusing them a lot so it doesn’t matter, but if it’s a favorite pattern it’s nice.
I’ve never heard of that, Tami! Thank you for the tip.
I’m assuming that you make your freezer paper templates based on the seam allowance and not the full-size pattern since it looks like you are sewing right along the edge of the freezer paper. Is this right or do you cut the templete a smidge wider than the seam allowance? Also, can you really iron the freezer paper onto fleece? I thought fleece was one of the fabrics that would “melt” if ironed, or does it depend of the fleece or the use of a press cloth?
I’ve used freezer paper to cut out patterns but not to sew with. I need to try this, too! Thanks for all of the work you do for us through “While She Naps.”
Great question! I eyeball the seam allowance. I draw the pattern pieces without the seam allowances included when I’m designing.
You can totally iron fleece. It does melt if you heat it too high or leave the iron in one place for two long so use a medium-high heat setting and move the iron around.
Mary G says
With fleece or felt – or even ironing over lightweight interfacing – I use a paper towel between the item and my iron and it seems to work fine as a pressing cloth and I don’t need to be so conscious of iron temperature or leaving shiny spots on the fabric. If using steam, it can still get through the paper towel and one paper towel lasts quite awhile. 🙂
michele shepherd says
Hi Abby! I have used freezer paper for years, but I leave on the area around the drawn-on pattern (minus SA) for about a inch all the way around- so I sew through the freezer paper. I’ve sew creature fingers 1 1/2″ long and 1/4″ wide by this method- being sure the stretch of fabric is to width of fingers. And between fingers take about 3 stitches pulling the fabric towards you. Michele
I dont really understand the thing about the finger stretching…can you explain what she means? Is she stretching the fabric as she sews?
Sure. She means that the fabric is stretchy going side to side (not up and down). The is placing the hand template parallel to the straight grain. (She is not stretching the fabric as she sews.) I hope that helps!
kim m says
This is such a great tip! I’ve used it for other sewing projects but not like this.
Off Topic but I truly enjoy your blog and podcasts. It’s so refreshing to come to your site and not be bombarded by ads or sponsors. What you do is very authentic and you make everyone who reads your blog or listens to your podcast feel like a friend. Keep up the good work!
Thank you, Kim. I can’t guarantee that the podcast will remain sponsor free. It takes quite a bit of time to do and I’m losing money on it every month. I love it and it’s here to stay, but a sponsor would make it come out even. The blog will be ad free, though, for sure.
Em Poppet says
Australia sewers! You can find freezer paper at Spotlight, you have to buy it by the metre though.
I love using it, but usually only for small fiddly cutting, especially with felt. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us xx
Good to know!
Lene Nielsen says
Argghhhhhh…..freezer paper isn’t available here in Denmark…grrrrr…. only in a few quilting shops, and then is VER VERY expensive. Damn!! I’ll have to get me an american freezer-paper-pusher *wink*
Wonderful way to use freezer paper! I use it a lot for freezer paper stencils. It doesn’t exist in Italy, where I live, however I’ve found a few hacks: 1. the paper that some butchers use to wrap meat in, 2. the paper wrapping of photocopy paper reams, 3. the paper packages that silverware and napkins are put inside at some lower-end restaurants. Not every time, but frequently the paper used for these three things works just the same as freezer paper on fabric! Yah! 🙂 Lisa
Yay for rescuing freezer paper in the wild!
Thanks so much for this idea. I love reading your articles and look forward to them.
Hi I have a question while you sewing using a paper freezer are you watching a neddle?or some point ? Sorry for my english
Hi Jagoda, Are you asking whether I have to wash the needle to clean off the stickiness? No, the type of stickiness of freezer paper doesn’t come off on the needle. I hope that helps!
You can probably order a full roll from a restaurant supply company…a roll at local grocery store is 4.98 for a small roll, restaurant supply has a 18 in by 1000 ft roll for around 11 dollars
Oh ! Very helpful, especially to see you machine stitching. Many thanks, from Australia.
Hi again. Here is a link to purchasing the freezer paper in Melbourne, Australia (and also shipped to New Zealand) –
Additionally, there are US Food shops in Brisbane, Sydney, and Perth, at ;east