Have you ever imagined having a unique t-shirt for a party, motorcycle race, or special occasion? Or, you want to have a busy life to fill a boring vacation? Why not paint a t-shirt? Painting a t-shirt can be a great way to turn a plain t-shirt into a unique and creative one. You can paint the t-shirt in a variety of ways, such as painting the t-shirt by hand, using a stencil or using spray paint! Whichever method you choose, once you're done you'll be in for a pleasant surprise. A creative and unique t-shirt.
Method 1 of 3: Using a Brush
Step 1. Prepare a plain and clean t-shirt
Make sure you have washed it to prevent shrinkage. Even if the shirt label states that the shirt has been pre-shrunk or “pre-shrunk”, it doesn't hurt to wash it again. Also, washing will eliminate the possibility of starch or fabric stiffeners that could cause the paint to not adhere properly.
Step 2. Prepare a place to work
Cover the tabletop with newsprint, and remove any objects that might be damaged by paint. Also prepare some paper napkins (to absorb the liquid) and a glass of water (to wash the brushes) to make your job easier.
Step 3. Insert a piece of cardboard inside the shirt
The cardboard should be the same size as the shirt so you can fit it inside the shirt without stretching it. The cardboard will prevent paint from seeping into the back of the shirt.
If you don't have cardboard, you can use a few sheets of newspaper folded to the size of a t-shirt instead. Old magazines or catalogs can also be used in an emergency
Step 4. Paint your chosen design using fabric paint
If you're unsure how to paint your design directly on the t-shirt, you can create a pattern beforehand using a stencil and permanent marker. After that you just color it. It's a good idea to use different brush sizes and shapes; flat brushes will give you a neat, even stroke, while taper brushes are perfect for handling intricate details.
- If you want to create a colorful design, for example a smiley, finalize the background color first. Let the paint dry, then you make the details.
- Try to use a brush specially designed for painting fabrics. These brushes usually have stiffer bristles and are made of taklon. Avoid brushes made of natural bristles, such as camel hair, as they are too soft to hold thick paint and create beautiful designs.
Step 5. Let the paint dry
You can speed up the drying process using a hairdryer if you want. Leave the cardboard inside the shirt until the paint is completely dry.
Once the paint is completely dry, you can flip the shirt over and paint the back as well. Leave the cardboard in place until the paint is completely dry
Step 6. Remove the cardboard
If the paint sticks to the cardboard, don't panic. You can simply slide your finger between the t-shirt and the cardboard to separate them. Throw away the cardboard after your work is done, or save it for other purposes.
Step 7. The t-shirt is ready to show off
Method 2 of 3: Using a stencil
Step 1. Wash the shirt first
Washing will prevent the shirt from shrinking and remove the starch coating. Plus, a clean shirt will make the paint stick better.
Step 2. Prepare a place to work
Cover the tabletop with a sheet of newsprint. You may need to keep some paper napkins, water cups, and paper plates (or a paint palette) in an easy-to-reach place.
Step 3. Place a piece of cardboard inside the t-shirt
The cardboard will prevent paint from seeping into the back of the shirt. If you don't have cardboard, use folded newsprint or an old magazine. Make sure the shirt lies flat, without wrinkles.
Step 4. Place the stencil where you want it, and make sure it doesn't shift
You can use stencils specifically designed for painting fabrics, regular stencils, or make your own using thin plastic, freezer paper, or cardboard. You can even use masking tape to create geometric designs! Make sure the stencil sits flat on the shirt. Otherwise, the paint will seep under the edges of the stencil.
- If you are using a stencil specially made for painting fabrics, it will usually have an adhesive backing. You just need to stick it on top of the shirt.
- If you're using a regular stencil, or a homemade stencil, coat the back with spray glue, then stick it over the shirt.
- If you're using freezer paper, glue the shiny side over the shirt and press it down with an iron. You can pull it off when you're done painting the t-shirt.
Step 5. Spray paint on the paper plate
If you want to use multiple colors, you can use a larger plate, or several smaller plates (each for one color).
Step 6. Dip the foam brush into the paint
You can also apply the paint using a small roller (preferably one made of rubber). Lastly, you can also use a paint brush. Brushes are perfect for handling complex stencil patterns.
Step 7. Apply paint to the stencil
Keep dipping the foam brush and applying paint until you've covered all the areas that need to be colored. If you are using a roller, simply run the roller over the stencil. Try to work inward. Start from the edges towards the center. This will prevent paint from seeping under the stencil.
Step 8. Remove the stencil before the paint dries
Fabric paint will form a thick layer when dry. If you remove the stencil too late, you run the risk of damaging the paint.
Step 9. Let the paint dry completely
If you want, you can harden the paint using a clothes iron. This way, you will get a durable design. Place a piece of cloth on top of the design, then press it down with an iron.
Step 10. Remove the cardboard from inside the shirt
Now you are ready to put on your t-shirt and show it to your friends!
Method 3 of 3: Using Spray Paint
Step 1. Wash the shirt to prevent shrinkage
Even if the shirt label says it's gone through a pre-shrinkage process, it doesn't hurt to wash it. T-shirts are often starched for a neat display in the store. A layer of starch can prevent the paint from sticking well.
Step 2. Insert folded newsprint or cardboard inside the t-shirt
Newspaper/cardboard will prevent spray paint from seeping into the back of the shirt. Newspaper/cardboard should be large enough, but not so that the shirt stretches when pasted. Make sure the shirt lies flat, without wrinkles.
Step 3. Position the stencil where you want it, and try not to move it
You can use a stencil specifically designed for painting fabrics, or a regular stencil. You can also use masking tape to create chevron stripes! Make sure the stencil sits flat on the shirt. Otherwise, the paint will seep under the edges of the stencil and result in an untidy, sloppy design.
- If you're using a special stencil for fabric, it's usually a self-adhesive back. You simply stick it on top of the cloth and flatten it out.
- If you're using a regular stencil, or a homemade stencil, spray the back with spray glue, then stick it over the shirt.
- If you're using freezer paper, glue the shiny side onto the fabric, then press it down with an iron.
Step 4. Go to a place with good ventilation and get ready to work
Ideally, you should use spray paint outdoors, but if that's not possible, choose a large room with lots of open windows. Line the workplace with sheets of newsprint, and wear old clothes or an apron. Also, consider wearing plastic gloves as spray paint can create a lot of mess.
If you are working indoors and start to feel dizzy, stop working. Go outside for some fresh air
Step 5. Spray paint on the shirt
Shake the paint can for 30-60 seconds first, then position it about 15-20 cm from the stencil. Spray the paint in large circular motions. Don't worry if the paint isn't thick enough. You can always add a second or third layer.
Consider spraying the design with a clear sealer first. This will give you better control over how you spray the paint and will prevent the paint from getting on the shirt. Make sure you wait for the sealer to dry before spraying the paint
Step 6. Allow the paint to dry for 15 minutes before applying a second coat
You can speed up the drying process with a hairdryer. After the first coat of paint has dried, spray a second coat. Now, you can see the paint is thicker. If you want, you can layer different colors on some of the designs for a "pinch" effect.
Step 7. Let the paint dry for another 10-15 minutes before removing the stencil and newspaper/cardboard
When removing the stencil, be careful because some of the paint is still wet, especially at the edges of the design. Unlike fabric paint, you can wait for the paint to dry before removing the stencil, because spray paint doesn't form a thick layer that can tear like fabric paint.
Step 8. Let the paint dry completely for a few more minutes
Once the paint is dry, you can remove the cardboard and put on your unique t-shirt.
- If fabric paint is too expensive for you, try using acrylic paint mixed with a “fabric medium”. You can buy it at a craft store.
- Use a 100% cotton t-shirt for best results.
- You can buy plain T-shirts, embossed paint, fabric paint, and fabric stencils at arts and crafts stores.
- Create designs using various shaped sponges dipped in paint and pasted onto a t-shirt. Cut the sponge into a simple shape, then dip it in the fabric paint. Gently press the sponge over the shirt.
- Wash the freshly painted T-shirt upside down in cold water. The best way is to wash it by hand. Let the shirt dry on its own.
- You can use regular or “negative” stencils. A regular stencil is a sheet that has a design cut in it and you apply paint to the cut. A negative stencil is simply made up of the desired shape, and you apply paint around it.
- If you have steady hands, you can outline your designs directly on top of your t-shirt stencils and permanent marker. Use the brush to carefully paint the design.
- If you're using a negative stencil, consider using an eraser on the tip of a pencil dipped in paint to make small dots around the stencil.
- You can use contact paper or freezer paper to stencil negatives.
- Make a stamp by cutting a lemon in half. Dip it in the paint and stick it on the t-shirt.