Crafts, Printables and Tutorials

Hand Painted T-Shirts

Have you ever decorated a tshirt? Not like the last day of 5th grade when everyone signs each others’ shirts with Sharpies, but purposely designed a shirt that you would wear more than once?

I clearly remember wishing I could design a tshirt when I was in Junior High. I didn’t like the graphic tees that were in the stores because they didn’t suit my taste, but I couldn’t think of a way (sans Sharpies) to make my own tshirt because it wouldn’t look nice enough to wear.

About 10 years ago I started painting designs that I liked on tshirts with acrylic paint mixed with a textile medium. The advantage of this method over fabric paints is that after ironing to heat set the paint, it can’t peel off.

A couple of years ago I bought a light box so I no longer had to tape the shirts to the window to transfer the designs. Yes, that was a thing.

I have also recently learned a few methods of tie dying. I always thought it was really hard to do, but it isn’t now that the dye can be applied with squeeze bottles instead of having to dunk the shirts (Easter egg style) in buckets.

Now I feel equipped to make shirts that I like to wear, my kids like to make and wear them, and they turn out well enough that we like them better than ones we find in stores. Success!

13 year-old me would be so proud.

This last round of decorating combined a few styles into one shirt, we first used bleach on our wrapped up shirts to take color out. This is especially dramatic on black tshirts. We bleached a light blue shirt, then added green dye, then painted an image at the center of the swirl. Talk about a Renaissance-man project!

If you’ve ever considered making t-shirts that reflect your personality, I highly recommend it. It may take a little practice to get your technique right, but it is so fun and you really can make a product that looks like you bought it that way. Best of luck to you!

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