(don't worry - they don't always wear matching shirts! :)
so here's my variation on contact paper stenciling for you and your child, or niece or nephew, or kids that you just love and want to make projects with! (or hey - just make them for yourself - it's so superfun!) and no need to just make t-shirts! we've made stenciled canvas totebags for our non-t-shirt wearing family members, and little stenciled pencil cases for other friends! basically, anything fabricy works!
and better then a fabric transfer, there seems to be no peeling or cracking with this method! woohoo!
he named it: mr. sunny.
drawn by our little sweetie, age 2, as stenciled onto a t-shirt.
for this project, you'll need:
- a fun drawing (sized how you'd like for the project)
- inexpensive contact paper (plasticized sticky-backed paper available in dollar stores, craft stores, hardware stores and more. shelf paper works well. available on a roll)
- cuticle scissors (or an exacto knife, if you're doing the cutting away from children!)
- newsprint (or another used paper scrap, as large as the shape of your drawing
- a ballpoint pen
- a square of cardboard (large enough to fit inside the tshirt)
- fabric paint in the colour(s) of your choice
- paintbrush (inexpensive foam brush works great)
- masking tape
1. choose the drawing! with your little sweetiepie - choose one of their favourite drawings. keep a few helpful hints in mind: try to find a basic linedrawing, perferably with thick lines, and focus on one main shape to start. decide if you need to enlarge, or decrease the size of the original image for the size of the shirt you are making. (this can easily be done by using a photocopier or scanner).. can't find an image? draw a new one! for older children, who might have more advanced drawings, perhaps a fun silhouette workshop session would be fun, then you can use the results for the tshirts!
2. prepare the t-shirt: on a flat surface, insert the cardboard square into the middle of the prewashed t-shirt. this way, as you work at painting the shirt, the paint won't bleed thru to the back. place the shirt (with cardboard inside) face up on the surface. i also like to add a layer or two of newsprint, or used paper between the front of the shirt and the cardboard, for extra blotting protection.
3. transfer the image to the contact paper: on a flat surface, place the drawing (or photocopy) face up. place an unpeeled piece of contact paper over top. you can tape down the contact paper on the sides, so that it won't slip, if your child would like to do the tracing! using a pen, carefully trace the outline of the image. in the image we're using (mr. sunny!) , it needs to have an outline, then two *floating* eyes and a *floating* mouth... so we drew the inside line of the sun shape, then the outside line. then the outlines of the eyes and mouth.
4. cut out the stencil: unless the child is older, this step is best done by an adult. untape the stencil. carefully cut out the stencil. in ours, we are carefully cutting out the white space inner image line, then the white space outer image line, then the *floating* eyes and mouth. many sources suggest an exacto knife, but i prefer tiny, sharp cuticle scissors. i feel they give me more control cutting, but use whichever you feel more adept at! divide up the parts you'll be using, and non-usable parts. (for example, we *used* the inner white body of mr. sunny, and the outlying white space. we were *not using* the cut out eyes, the cut out mouth, the cutaway line/space between his head and the sky.) i think the cutting and figuring out which are the right parts can be the most confusing part of the process. be patient! you can do it! it is easier if you are just using a silhouette, and have no floating parts.
5. placing the stencil on the shirt: before peeling the paper backing off, decide together where the image will go on the front of the shirt. remember... where the stencil is will end up being the colour of your shirt. where the stencil isn't will be the colour of your paint. now carefully peel off the paper backing from each part and stick onto shirt. then carefully smooth each part of the stencil with your finger, to ensure it is fully stuck, so that no paint bleeding will occur. the parts that will be the colour of the shirt will be covered. the parts that will be painted will be exposed.
6. painting the shirt: we just use regular foam mini-paintbrushes. dip the brush into the fabric paint. it will be nice and thick. try holding the tshirt while your child gently paints in the open-stencil areas. this should be a nice slow process. be careful not to paint outside the contact paper edge, or it will land on the shirt where you don't want it. after one coat, take a close look with your child and see if there are any uneven spaces. we like to make ours nice and even, and not too thin, and not too thick (without being gloppy!) - this way it will have a solid line look, even after 100's of washes!
7. letting it dry: let the paint dry for an hour or so. go do something else fun! some folks say wait longer, but we always found we were both too excited to wait any more! once fairly dry (or else it might bleed), gently peel off the stencil parts. and tada! a magical homemade tshirt awaits, with your kidlet's art on display! now let it set for up to 24 hours to ensure it's totally dry.
8. set the image: the fabric paint we use needs to be heat-set as the final step. follow the paint instructions (which might just be to gently iron the image to heat-set it)
9. enjoy the shirt!! we made matching ones for our whole family! and gave away a whole bunch in different colours as gifts a few years back! ours have been worn & washed 100's of times and the paint remained in tact perfectly! and i gotta tell ya, i think everyone loved them! :) it's so fun to see fun friends and family wearing them around!
* you can reuse your stencil a few times. i've used most about 4 times each. if you are taking a long break inbetween, affix the stencil to saranwrap, in order to save the stickiness of the backing.
like a visual tutorial or some more ideas?
you can find all kinds of wonderful hints on the web...
* a nice visual step by step from SpinalCat
* see this one for another great step by step photo tutorial
*this one on craft from the wonderful angry chicken
* more on the contact paper vs. freezer paper debate here.
* more fun ideas on handmade stencils on spazztic crafts
i couldn't find a video tutorial - so i might just make one up someday soon!
have fun! kids seem to love the process and the end result! hope you do to!
Thank you, Kristal! This is an amazing project that I can't wait to try! For more on Kristal and her fine talents, you can check out her blog, and her Etsy shop where she sells "modern & sustainable patchwork". I will leave you with a few of the lovely examples of her craftiness...
DIY Sustainable Clutch Purse
DIY Sustainable Wallet or Business Card Holder