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Custom Upcycled No-Sew T-Shirts and Freezer Paper Painting

Custom Upcycled No-Sew T-Shirts and Freezer Paper Painting

Like most of us, our house suffers from a serious overpopulation of t-shirts. While I try to cull the herd frequently, there are just some shirts the family doesn’t want to give up–especially my daughter–even though they are frumpy and sloppy looking! Sometimes the best answer to helping the all of us love these equally is to upcycle t-shirts into fashionable top that has a little style. Or, if you want to make your own custom top from a $2 tee, I’ve got an idea for that, too! Freezer paper, paint and a t-shirt is all you need to complete this epic upcycled no-sew t-shirt project.

Or, you can skip the painting part and scroll down to breathe some new life into an old t-shirt in about 5 minutes!


Originally seen in my post over on Made From Pinterest, this t-shirt project will get you beach or pool ready!

How to Make Upcycled No-Sew T-Shirts


  • T-shirt, one size too big
  • Freezer paper cut to 9×12 inches
  • Fabric paint
  • Word stencil (download “epic” here)


Freezer Paper T-Shirt Stencils

You can find freezer paper in the grocery store by the aluminum foil and plastic wrap. This paper has a few magical properties that make it perfect for stenciling onto fabric!

I stenciled the word “epic” onto this particular t-shirt. You can use my template, or create your own in any word processing program. Print the word in large size onto a sheet of paper.



With the shiny plastic part of the paper facing down–this is very important–put your word stencil on top of the freezer paper. If you’re afraid of the paper slipping around while you’re working on it, you can tape the stencil to the freezer paper.

Use an exacto knife to trace around the edges of your wording.



When you’re done, you’ll have a stencil ready for transfer! Be sure to keep close track of the inside pieces not attached to the full sheet of paper, like the pieces inside the P and E!



Move the freezer paper over to on top of your t-shirt, with the shiny plastic part facing down. Use an iron on medium heat to iron the freezer paper to the fabric.



After you’re finished ironing, put a piece of cardboard large enough to serve as a barrier between the paint you’re about to slap on and the back of the t-shirt.



Put a few coats of your paint onto the stenciled area, until you have good opaque coverage. I used white, then went back in with a few dabs of aqua at the tips of my lettering.

Once your paint is completely dry, you can hit the cutting part of upcycling a t-shirt!


Cutting Your T-Shirt into a Tank Top

This part takes all of 5 minutes to complete, and is done completely with a pair of scissors. Follow the basic lines in the photo above as to where to make your cuts. You may want deeper arm holes or a lower neck line; you can always make adjustments after you make your first snips.



After you’ve cut apart your t-shirt, snip the bottom band so it make a string. Cut off any tags, etc.



Turn the t-shirt on its front so you can gather the material between the armholes together. You’ll use the string you made from the bottom hem of the shirt to wrap around the material to hold it tight. Be sure to leave a little extra on the end when you start wrapping so you can tie it off.




Wrap the back fabric as high and low as you can, then tie it off and trim the string.

No-sew-tshirt-upcycle-fun No-sew-tshirt-upcycle-20

Then you really need to put it on and go find a beach and run wild and free while delighting in your newest creation. Pretty awesome for not that much money and not that much work. Now, go forth and upcycle, and let me know what you make!

Paula Biggs

Owner at Frog Prince Paperie
Paula Biggs is a party planner, DIY crafter, and owner of Frog Prince Paperie, where you can find hundreds of party, craft and lifestyle ideas.

Susan Lewis

Thursday 1st of October 2015

Oh, so lovely! My girls gonna love this idea! Recycling few of my old tees this way instead of throwing them away is a nice option. Thanks for sharing!


Monday 27th of July 2015

This is so great! It came out looking like it came from some name brand store. I need to pin this and try it for sure. Thank you for sharing it at the #HomeMattersParty with us! We hope to see your next great idea this Friday!

Jenny @ Refresh Living

Monday 27th of July 2015

Adorable! I've been meaning to try using freezer paper for stencils, but still haven't got around to it. You make it look easy! Thanks for sharing with us at Dream. Create. Inspire. Link.


Thursday 23rd of July 2015

Cute! I have been wanting to make a stencil from freezer paper. Thanks!