Okay, let me start out by saying this is going to be long one. Lots of steps involved. Just stick with it and you'll have a really sweet t-shirt when you're done.
- A t-shirt (if it's already the color you want it, you can skip the next two supplies)
- Tulip or RIT fabric dye in your choice of color. I used Tulip's Custom Dye Color Kit to dye mine as close to TARDIS Blue as possible.
- A bucket
- An X-acto knife
- An ultra fine point Sharpie or a Sharpie pen
- Freezer Paper. It has to be specifically freezer paper, not wax paper, not parchment paper, but freezer paper, because it's just plain paper on one side and has waxy/plastic-ey stuff on the other.
- A ruler
- Acrylic paint
- A sponge brush thing or synthetic fiber brushes (the kind that feel soft, not scratchy)
- Something to cover your work space like newspaper or trash bags
Part 1 - Dying the Shirt:
You can skip to part 2 if you bought a shirt in the color you wanted, if not...
- Pre-wash your shirt to get any sizing out of it.
- Hang-dry, don't use any fabric softener or dryer sheets!
- Follow the package directions on your dye. Mine requires letting the shirt soak for about 45 minutes, so I settled in to watch Doctor Who and cut out the letters of 11's entire speech from the opening of the Pandorica, I'll explain how to do all of that in Part 2. You can use this time to decide what you want on your shirt. It can be any words/simple images you want, obviously I'm using the "Pandorica Opens Speech."
- When your shirt is done soaking, wash and dry it BY ITSELF.
|Dying the shirt (also a onesie). That spatula is now dyed blue-ish and permanently "crafts only."|
|This shows the shirt and the onesie after dying, washing, and drying. They're not actually that nasty gray color.|
|They're more like this lovely blue color. Not quite TARDIS blue, but blue nonetheless.|
Part 2 - The Mock "Screen-Print"
Traditional screen printing is expensive, time consuming, and kind of tedious. The following technique is a lot easier, and the materials can all be purchased pretty cheaply at Target/Walmart/Meijer/etc.
- First you need to know what you'll be stenciling on the shirt. I'm using the 11th Doctor's monologue from the episode "The Pandorica Opens." That's a LOT of text. If you're new to stenciling or using an X-acto, it might be better to start out with something simpler like the Doctor Who logo or "I (insert two hearts) DW"
- Once you've decided it's time to print it out. I used Microsoft Word to justify my text and adjust font sizes to give this large amount of text a more varied, interesting appearance. If you're using an image you can paste it into Word or Photoshop and adjust it to your desired size. On most home printers you won't be able to go larger than 8.5x11" without tiling it, which is definitely doable. When your text/image looks the way you want it, print it out.
- Tear off enough freezer paper to cover your design. Tape your design to your work surface, then tape the freezer paper SHINY SIDE DOWN on top of your design, you should be able to see it through the freezer paper.
- Trace your design on the freezer paper, then remove the design in case you need to use it again. Place your freezer paper on some cardboard or something else you don't mind cutting up with the X-acto.
- Using caution and taking your time, cut out your design. If you're using letters, make sure to save the inside bits of the O's and A's and B's and such. Personally, I don't mind the look of having the spaces filled in. (That's my way of saying I didn't want to fuss with the inner bits of an entire paragraph of text.) Cutting my stencil took (in chunks of a few minutes to a couple hours) about 7 or 8 hours total.
- When you're (finally!) done cutting out your text/design, it's time to iron! With your iron on a low setting, put the shiny side of the freezer paper down on the fabric and iron it on gently, but making sure to secure the edges firmly to the fabric so that your paint doesn't bleed.
My stencil positioned on the shirt. LOTS of text. Ironing and ironing and ironing.
- Now you finally get to do the stenciling! All you have to do is use an appropriately sized brush to apply paint inside your stencil. Depending on the color of your shirt and the color of your paint, you may need to allow the first layer to dry and add another.
The stencil covered in paint. I primarily used the sponge brush to ensure that the paint was evenly applied and not brush-stroke-y.
- When you're done painting, gently peel up the freezer paper from your shirt.
Be very careful to get all of the paper from the little detailed spots.
- If you want to make extra sure that paint isn't going anywhere, lay a towel over your design and iron over the towel for 30 seconds.
|Mirror shots FTW!|
|Best picture of all the text.|
|I made this for an itty bitty Whovian while I was waiting on steps, taking breaks, etc.|
Notes in Retrospect:
- Something I forgot to mention is that you should measure the area of your shirt you want to cover with the stencil and set your Word/Photoshop document to that, plus half-inch margins.
- NEVER try to stencil something in less than 75 point font if you value your sanity.
- I think I used too much black when mixing my dye, which would be why my shirt wasn't as vibrant as I had hoped.
- Lastly, as much as I love this shirt, I do NOT reccommend stenciling an entire monologue onto a t-shirt. It's a whole lot of work and your wrists will be very crampy.
Tada! If you did everything right, you should now have an awesome custom t-shirt! Let me know how your shirt came out. Tweet me a picture @LarraKyleen