Freezer Paper for Quilters
This article includes everything you need to know about freezer paper for quilters—whether you use Inklingo or not!
Table of Contents
If you know me, you know that I have been teaching quilters how to use freezer paper for over 20 years. The info in this article applies whether you use Inklingo or not and whether you piece or appliqué.
Freezer Paper (FP) is perfect for almost everything we do as quilters.
Freezer paper can set you free. It is the best product available for quilters since forever. I think you might be surprised how economical it is—very, very inexpensive —and how versatile it is too. It also eliminates the need for a lot of other specialty tools like acrylic templates.
What is Freezer Paper?
This is a clip from one of the videos on the Main Lucy Boston Page.
Freezer paper is NOT wax paper, parchment paper, or butcher paper because those do not have a “poly” (plastic) coating.
It can be white or brown and has a plastic side and a paper side.
The plastic side sticks to fabric temporarily when pressed with a HOT, DRY iron and peels off neatly, so it can be used over and over again. It does not leave residue on the fabric.
You can write on the paper side to label it and you can trace through the white paper. You can also trace through brown freezer paper but only with a light-box.
Eventually, it will pick up enough lint and fuzz from the fabric that it will not stick as well but it lasts a long, long time. I use every sheet of FP many times. After several uses, you might want to set a sheet aside to use in other projects which don’t go through the printer.
Quilters generally prefer thin freezer paper for tracing and some quilters prefer heavier freezer paper for printing.
Freezer Paper Roll or Sheets?
Rolls of Reynolds freezer paper are very cheap in North America, where you can usually find it in the grocery store on the same shelf as aluminum foil and wax paper. Freezer paper is also sold in sheets in quilt shops and online.
A package of 50 sheets (8.5 x 11, 32.5 square feet) costs about $12 US on Amazon as of November 2022.
A roll of Reynolds freezer paper, 150 square feet costs about $8 US at Walmart as of November 2022. (It used to be half that!) Rolls are 18 inches wide. You can also buy 75 square feet in a roll.
The choice is 150 square feet for $8 or 32.5 square feet for $12. Freezer paper sheets are usually a heavier weight than Reynolds. I use both.
Take the Curl Out! (This is a clip from Live Video 01.)
You can make flat sheets out of a roll very easily—and avoid paying extra—because the curl disappears the first time you iron it.
Iron sections of the roll to your ironing board cover and slice it up into the sizes you prefer. (There is more on buying in bulk and info about my new favourite ruler from Quilter’s Select below.)
ONE package or roll of Freezer Paper might be all you ever need because each piece can be used over and over and over again. Even if you have to pay for shipping, it is still one of the most economical tools ever.
My mission is all about making quilting more accessible (less expensive, easier, more accurate) and freezer paper is an essential element.
Printing on Fabric with Freezer Paper
Of course, I think Inklingo is fabulous, so let’s look at using freezer paper for printing first.
Inklingo is the quilting tool we’ve always wanted and printing on fabric all depends on stabilizing the fabric with freezer paper, so it feeds through your ordinary printer just like paper.
Don’t worry about jams! Jams are very rare if you use a hot, dry iron and fabric that has been washed to remove the sizing (and dirt). There are tips about avoiding jams in the Top 10 Tutes on the blog.
See how I prepare fabric sheets with freezer paper. (This is a clip from Live Video 07.)
With Inklingo, we use FP to stabilize the fabric, so we can print the fabric with Inklingo shapes, for piecing or appliqué, and for labels and any other time we need templates.
With Inklingo, we cut the freezer paper to a size that will use the fabric efficiently for whatever shapes we are printing, like hexagons, triangles, and thousands of other shapes.
I cut the freezer paper to the Custom Size and label it. If you label your FP, you will know at a glance which is the paper side and which is the plastic side. You don’t want to put the iron down on the plastic side because it melts the plastic coating.
For Inklingo, we cut the freezer paper to Custom Sizes, like 5.75 x 11.5 and 8 x 12.5, so we get exactly the number of shapes we need and no fabric waste.
Every Inkjet printer allows you to print Custom Page Sizes by entering the numbers in the Print Dialog box. Isn’t that cool? I had no reason to print anything other than letter size (8.5 x 11) before Inklingo. It’s easy but there are tips for your first Custom Size.
The Best Templates (Better than Acrylic)
FREEZER PAPER TEMPLATES (When you cannot print on fabric.)
This little video would not be necessary except that many quilters automatically assume they need acrylic templates and rulers for every project. See why I don’t sell acrylic templates.
I use FP templates when the shapes are not available yet from Inklingo, for some dark fabric, and for one of the two methods of fussy cutting with Inklingo (below).
Freezer paper has huge advantages over acrylic templates. Printing on fabric is always my first choice (of course) but freezer paper makes better templates than plastic or acrylic—MUCH better.
I started teaching hand piecing with freezer paper templates more than 20 years ago for the diamonds in my Quilted Diamonds books. There is even a 2-hour DVD lesson showing how to use freezer paper templates for hand piecing with my second Quilted Diamonds book.
My Quilted Diamonds books only teach hand piecing because the shapes are tiny but the same template method works for machine piecing.
Freezer Paper for Fussy Cutting
This short video explains two methods of using freezer paper for fussy cutting designs in the fabric.
There is a longer version of this video with more detail on the Main Lucy Boston Page.
Don’t throw out those scraps! Use them to make more sheets of FP.
You can also create thicker templates by ironing two or more sheets of freezer paper together, plastic side to paper side. This can be handy for EPP and appliqué templates.
What if you have lovely pre-cut 8.5 x 11 inch sheets from the quilt shop, and you want a sheet 8 x 12 or 7 x 14? Easy! Overlap another sheet or scrap and trim. Then save those new scraps to make more custom sheets.
This info about ironing scraps together is one of the tips in the first chapter of The Inklingo Handbook. It includes everything you need to know about printing on fabric, so we added it to the free shape collection for Diamonds/Triangles/Squares (pages H1-H48) to get you off to a good start.
I cut from a roll using two rulers and a rotary cutter with an old blade that I just use on paper.
- Cut with the plastic side up so the rulers don’t slide away from you.
- Cut several layers at a time. There is an example in The Inklingo Handbook (page 26, or page H26 in the free shape collection).
- Label each sheet with the size, and what shape it is for.
Alternatives to Freezer Paper
Acrylic templates are a poor substitute for freezer paper templates. See why I don’t sell acrylic templates.
A small number of Inklingo quilters use Terial Magic or adhesive labels to stabilize the fabric for printing. Both of these methods cost more and are slower but it avoids using an iron. I recommend FP.
Where to Buy Freezer Paper
In Canada and the US, we have easy, inexpensive access to FP in grocery stores, usually near the wax paper and aluminum foil.
Before you buy the first time, check to see if you already have some FP hiding in plain sight. In many countries, reams of printer paper are wrapped in paper with a plastic coating, like Monkey’s ream from Staples (above). That one piece of plastic-coated paper is enough to get you started while you wait for more to be delivered.
Overseas quilters might want to make friends with a quilter in North America and trade for FP. A package of 50 sheets can be divided among several quilters to share the shipping cost.
It is always a nice idea to support your local quilt shop if they carry FP sheets, and that is probably the least expensive for quilters Down Under and in Europe too. When you buy online, the shipping can add up.
If you are in the US and like the idea of using heavier freezer paper, you can buy 300 sheets 24 x 24, 54# freezer paper online from POS Paper. (No affiliation)
300 sheets of FP weigh a ton, so be sure to check the shipping cost! The site includes a shipping calculator, so you know in advance. It is reasonable by ground service within the US, especially if you share with friends.
If you Google Freezer Paper, you will find many other online sources, including Amazon. Shipping costs make a big difference in the final price.
Recycling Freezer Paper
The plastic coating makes it non-recyclable in many areas but it is far less volume of garbage than acrylic and other plastics.
Eventually there will be more recycling opportunities.
In the Freezer
FP might also be good for storing food, but I have no experience with that. There are tips on boxes of Reynolds FP. As far as I’m concerned, you’re on your own, okay? I leave the kitchen to Russ.