I’m not a fan of being outside as I have already explained here and here and here. We were driving home from one of my son’s baseball games this summer and I spotted a guy mowing his lawn. His tee read, in big bold letters, “OUTSIDE IS DUMB.” I knew immediately that I needed that shirt. I scoured the internet for the shirt, but I could only find one and it wasn’t the same design. So, I took matters into my own hands. I bought a cheap plain t-shirt, and designed a freezer paper stencil to create my own version of the shirt. Then I used my secret trick for making vintage soft tees, and I am sharing that secret with you today.
Watch this short video to see how I made this fun graphic tee. I publish two new videos each week, so subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss any of the fun!
The beauty of freezer paper is that the shiny side temporarily adheres to fabric when ironed. When you cut the design out of the paper (whether you use an electronic cutter or a craft knife), make sure the shiny side down while you are cutting. Then weed the design, place it shiny side down on the shirt, and iron the freezer paper down. Place some cardboard inside the shirt to prevent paint seeping through the fabric, and pounce paint over the stencil. Finally peel the freezer paper off while the paint is still wet.
The real trick to getting a soft, vintage feel lettering is to use fabric ink instead of fabric paint. No matter how soft fabric paint is, it still sits on top of the fabric, leaving it a little bit stiff. Fabric ink soaks into the fabric and colors the fabric itself. When the ink is set, the inked design feels no different to the touch than the rest of the shirt. I made a Star Wars shirt using this technique years ago, and I love the way the shirt looks and feels even now.
Fabric ink sets a bit differently than fabric paint. After you remove the stencil, allow the ink to dry for a full 24 hours. Then place a pressing cloth over the design, and heat set the design with a hot iron.
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If you would like more DIY graphic tees, check out these tutorials:
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