Tutorial! Screen printing with freezer paper stencils with Zeena Shah

East London-based textile designer Zeena Shah (she’s also inspiration for the By Hand London Zeena dress, for you craft world trivia buffs) recently released a beautiful book called How to Print Fabric! There are 20 techniques in the book plus simple sewing project to show them off and every single one is just gorgeous.

How to Print Fabric by Zeena Shah

We invited Zeena to share a project from the book with us on the blog and I picked that awesome fox cushion. Take it away, Zeena!

Screen printed fox tutorial with Zeena Shah


By using freezer paper to create stencils to print with on an open screen you can cleverly build up a multi-coloured fabric print from scratch with minimal equipment.

Plain fabric, medium or heavyweight
• Two fabric screen printing inks, contrasting colours
• Silk screen
• Squeegee
• Sponge
Freezer paper
• Pencil
• Scalpel and cutting mat
• Masking tape, wide width
• Iron
• Scrap paper, newspaper or table protector

Click the image to open full size and print!

Screen printed fox tutorial with Zeena Shah

01. Cut two pieces of freezer paper with scissors to fit your silk screen. Trace one Fox Design template at the centre of each sheet and label with the corresponding letter. Using a scalpel and cutting mat, carefully cut out the coloured areas of your design, keeping any loose pieces that you cut out for later.

Screen printed fox tutorial with Zeena Shah

02. Iron your fabric, lay it flat and secure the edges with masking tape. Carefully lay stencil A directly onto the fabric, making sure the freezer paper has its waxy side facing down, then gently iron the stencil so it sticks to the fabric – don’t over-iron, otherwise it will be difficult to peel away later. You can also place the floating pieces into position now and secure them by ironing.

Screen printed fox tutorial with Zeena Shah

03. To prepare your silk screen for printing, mask where the mesh meets the edge of the frame on the reverse or flat side of the screen with wide-width masking tape – this stops any ink spilling through the edges and bleeding onto your fabric.

Screen printed fox tutorial with Zeena Shah

04. Place your screen directly on top of your freezer paper stencil, checking you can see the entire design through the mesh, then dollop a generous line of ink evenly across the top edge of the screen. Holding your squeegee at a 45-degree angle in one hand, use the other to hold the frame securely. Press the squeegee down into the ink and pull it towards you in one continuous motion until you reach the bottom of the screen – then repeat the process in the opposite direction. Give the squeegee a bang to release any excess ink back onto the frame and repeat the process. Slowly lift up your silk screen from the end closest to you to reveal the print – the paper should remain stuck to the fabric. The ink will need to dry before moving onto colour B, so wash your silk screen and squeegee immediately with cold water and a sponge then leave them to dry naturally before printing again.

Screen printed fox tutorial with Zeena Shah

05. When your print is completely dry (you can use a hairdryer to speed this along!) peel away your paper stencil and iron your fabric again ready to repeat the whole process for your colour B stencil.

Screen printed fox tutorial with Zeena Shah

Tip: As you grow in confidence, you can start to add multiple colours by simply using different layers of stencils, a process known as colour separation.


This cute little fox-shaped pillow is the perfect creature to adorn your home, or why not give your fox to some friends? Bring him to life with a simple screen print and a bit of stitching – alternatively you can use this technique to create any shape of pillow you wish.

• Printed fabric, 30 x 25cm (12 x 10in)
• Plain or patterned fabric, 30 x 25cm (12 x 10in)
• Sewing machine and matching thread
Hand-sewing needle
Pinking shears
Toy stuffing or scrap fabric for filling
• Iron

01. Print the Fox Design template onto your fabric using the Screen Printing with Freezer Paper Stencils technique. Then dry and fix by following the instructions on your ink.

Screen printed fox tutorial with Zeena Shah

02. Lay your printed and backing fabrics together, right sides facing (A). Measure a 1.5cm (5⁄8in) seam allowance in from the edge of the print and mark a stitch line all the way around your design.

03. Pin the fabrics together at right angles then use your sewing machine to stitch along your marked line, reversing at the beginning and end – you can sew this by hand with a close running stitch or back stitch if you don’t have a sewing machine (B). Remember to leave a 10cm (4in) gap for filling.

Screen printed fox tutorial with Zeena Shah

04. After you have stitched your fabrics together, trim away the excess material then use pinking shears or finish with a zigzag stitch to prevent any fraying edges (C).

05. Snip notches into any inward curves to enable the cushion to take its intended shape (D). Then turn it the right side out, making sure you poke out all the corners, perhaps using a blunt pencil or chopstick to help.

06. Press with your iron and fill your fox with toy stuffing or a scrap fabric. Pin the gap closed and slip stitch with a needle and thread. Finished!

Tip: If you don’t have any toy stuffing or scrap fabric you’re willing to part with, old tights make great alternative fillers!

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