Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tutorial: Custom Tees


I was checking out the Crap I've Made blog a couple days ago and saw this great paint product. Tulip's Soft Velveteen Fabric Paint. After drying you steam it with an iron and it changes texture to a flexible soft raised almost rubbery feel. Despite being the coldest day in ages, my toddler and I braved the weather to go get some of this paint. It was even on sale at JoAnn's so it was meant to be.


I decided to do an Elmo shirt but just think of all the letter stencils, t-shirts, tote bags, household items, monogrammed pillows, aprons, and who knows what else you could use this on! Char at Crap I've Made used it to make letters on a Valentine's Day bunting (check out the blog link above, she has a lot of great projects and tutorials!).

The shirt I'm using is from Wal-Mart's Garanimals line. For $3.50 they have solid color boys or girls shirts (the girl shirts are cuter than the boys, as usual) up to size 5T. I found the Soft Velveteen paint in 3 of the colors I needed, red, black and white. They didn't have orange or yellow to mix with the red so I ended up getting just a matte finish orange.

I started by making a stencil. I then made 4 copies of it and cut out the openings for each of my 4 paint colors. I used card stock paper for my stencil. It worked okay for one use but it did start to curl a tiny bit after the second coat of paint. Freezer paper would have been a better choice.


I pre-washed the t-shirt and I put cardboard inside underneath the areas I was painting. I chose to do a bigger Elmo on the chest and a little one on the wrist so the wearer could see it.

I used Duct tape repositionable Easy-Stick tape to hold my stencil in place. This was especially essential for the extra mouth piece that wasn't connected to the main stencil. Just make sure to get the adhesive around your stencil so the paint doesn't bleed underneath too much. You could also use spray glue. Then I used a sponge brush to put on 2 coats of paint in each color.


I ended up doing the red, orange and white with the stencil and just used a small brush to paint in the black. The paint bled a tiny bit under my stencils so I wanted to cover those imperfections accurately when I outlined the whole image in black.

   

And here's what I had after all the paint had dried for 4 hours (as the paint label recommends):


Now for the magic. After painting the image was slightly textured from the way I used the sponge brush, but it was still flat. Then I heated up my iron on the steam setting and held it about 1/2" above the fabric while it was steaming (you have to have steam, just heat won't work). Then the paint puffed up and turned into a whole new texture! I tried to get before and after shots but it's still hard to see. The photo was taken when the paint was still hot and a little wavy. It smoothed out after it cooled.


And here's the final shirt modeled by the lucky (thrilled...) recipient! Other than the drying time in between the different colors of paint this was a pretty fast project.


PS. If you need help finding a kid's character image try out these websites and the coloring pages:

These two sites have both printable coloring pages and coloring related games such as mazes, paper dolls, bookmarks, mobiles and more:
Just coloring pages (check both PBS links for your favorite show because they each feature different shows):