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Old 10-29-2007, 12:28 AM   #1 (permalink)
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How to make kickass shirts for almost free (warning: lotsa big images)

This is a very low cost technique that produces very cool results. I discovered this technique in the stencilrevolution.com tutorial section, so they get the credit for the original idea, and I can't for the life of me remember who linked me there.

This is what you'll be making:




Supplies you'll need:

  • A shirt--at least 50% cotton. Black is easiest to touch up afterwards, and usually has the coolest effects. I haven't experimented with other colors yet, although I've bought a few, so stay tuned
  • Bleach, and Bleach Accessories--This includes bleach filtering mask (look, they have on especially for that), nitrile gloves (not totally neccessary), clothes you don't care about (not shown), bleach (duh), and a couple fifty cent misting spray bottles from walmart.
  • A stencil, or a design on some stencil material and a way to Cut It--The three basic ways to cut stencils are use a razor or exacto knife, use scissors, or burn them with a soldering iron. All three have their strengths for different applications. Don't try this with any non-plastic stencil materials. Cardboard won't work, neither will paper. Shelf paper works great, and is already sticky on one side, so you won't need adhesive. I use overhead transparencies, because they fit in my printer and I already have a grip of them.
  • Some Other stuff--Some spray mount adhesive (experiment with anything from 3m if you have to, but repositionable stuff is best), a t-shirt board (bought or cut out of a box), and some fabric dye pens in case you screw up, or to add difficult detail.


Because I want this to be a very large design, I printed four stencils with alignment marks. I'm using an exacto knife and a metal ruler to get nice crisp straight lines everywhere it's straight...

...and scissors anywhere it's curved. Good rule of thumb.

<insert one hour of watching Tila Tequilla's Shot at Love here>


Ok, got my stencils all nice and cut out (and in this case, labeled, so I don't mix up the parts). Time to stick them on the shirt.


A little spray adhesive to stick the shirt to the shirt board so that we have a nice smooth surface to work with


Hit your stencil with a light dose of adhesive, and, with a little careful layout work, (unless you don't care if it's edgy and off center), mount it up.


Bleach is some toxic shit, yo. Wear nappy clothes (or all white if possible), nitrile gloves, and a bleach mask...your lungs will thank you!


To reduce overspray and bleeding, try to keep your sprays light and misty, and from the same angle.


It starts developing almost immediately. If you want to create layers, you can spray different strengths of bleach. The two I used in this shirt were straight and about 30 bleach/70 water. Let it sit as long as you like. I let this one sit for one commercial break (12 minutes?) because I was impatient, but I bet it would have gotten whiter if I'd left it longer.


Bleach builds up on your stencil, so pat it dry before tilting or you'll get runs.


Rip it off the board and chuck it straight in the dryer before the bleach has time to spread. Couple minutes should be enough to get it dry...any longer, and you're using too much bleach!

My camerawoman wandered off while I was doing touchup, but if any bleach got under your stencils, you can take a fabric dye pen and clean up your lines, if you are going for a nice clean look. Otherwise, just let'er rip.


When hobbies colide! I'm pretty happy with how this turned out, espcially the shading...that didn't just happen, i tried to blend between the darker 30% and the lighter 100%, and I'd say with good results. I'd say it is at least as nice as the $17 punisher shirt I almost bought last week at Hot Topic, and it only cost me $2.50 at Michaels. Plus I got to be creative. Yay DIY!

Anyways, hope you enjoyed, I'd love to see your artwork posted up, or any techniques or refinements you discover! Let's see what you can make!

Last edited by telekinetic; 10-30-2007 at 10:17 AM..
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Old 10-29-2007, 10:59 AM   #2 (permalink)
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You're a genius, bro.
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Old 10-29-2007, 11:11 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Wow, this is effing awesome. Thank you for the info, I am going to have to try this next week. Im going to go buy the supplies this weekend. Now, what design do I want... lol *smoke comes out of her ears as she tries to think*
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Old 11-10-2007, 01:12 AM   #4 (permalink)
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This is probably the most useful thing I've learned since walking. I'm going to make all my own shirts from now on. Thanks twistedmosaic.
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Old 11-20-2007, 09:14 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Great idea Twistedmosaic, thanks for sharing your technique!
It turned out awesome!
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Old 11-21-2007, 07:54 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Cool idea. Low cost good looking shirts.
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Old 11-21-2007, 08:10 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Two additional steps I've learned of since doing this tutorial:
  • To avoid damaging the shirt, and to completely eliminate the tendency for the bleach to eventually eat holes, you need to chemically cancel the bleach right after you're done bleaching it. The easiest way to do this is soak the garmet in Hydrogent Peroxide (the 3% kind they sell for disinfectant is perfect, I use three 88 cent bottles quart from walmart.). Be careful to keep your hydrogen peroxide in a dark opaque container, though, as direct sunlight and other UV sources causes it to break down.
  • If you use a fabric pen to touch up portions of the shirt, you will need to heat set the ink to make it survive a wash. The easiest way to do this for most dyes is to iron it as hot as you can without scorching the shirt.

Hope that helps, keep any additional questions coming!
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Old 11-25-2007, 01:38 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thank you so much for the awesome post. I ran with it and did a few myself, figured it could make a neat Christmas gift. So here they are...

<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i228.photobucket.com/albums/ee219/lady-sin/152805.jpg" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>

<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i228.photobucket.com/albums/ee219/lady-sin/152606.jpg" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>

I couldnt find the overhead sheets (I went to Michaels and she swore they had nothing like that *sigh*), So I ended up with the transparent sheets the use for scrapbooks. I also used an exacto knife. Talk about a pain. I suggest finding the thicker sheets he mentioned, these tear really easy. But I was very happy with the outcome. Ill be doing more eventually.

Thanks again!
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Old 11-25-2007, 10:40 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Great work!

I suggest heading to staples to get the acrylics. They have the added bonus that they fit in most ink jet printers.
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Old 11-25-2007, 11:52 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Very nice.

You should do this on the side.

"Hey nice shirt! Where did you get it?"

"Bought it from twistedmosiac on TFP."

get on it. =)
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Old 11-26-2007, 01:26 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Ok, since I am the typical bored homemaker for now, I did one for myself a little bit ago, here it is...

<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i228.photobucket.com/albums/ee219/lady-sin/151914.jpg" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>
This is the front... It's "Good and Evil" in Kanji....

<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i228.photobucket.com/albums/ee219/lady-sin/151941.jpg" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>
And this is the back... yay for wings....

I think I'm done for the moment, the whole house smells like bleach. Next to come in a Dare Devil shirt for my boyfriend.
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Old 11-27-2007, 08:20 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I'm thinking about doing the same thing. I have a black sun tattooed on the left side of my chest. I was thinking about making the inverse on a shirt that aligns with the tattoo, except the tattoo on the shirt would be white.

Another thing I was thinking about. What if you did it the negative? I mean cover a design on the fabric and bleach the rest of the shirt? This would give you choices of color instead of just white on black. You could take a red shirt, cover a heart-shape in the front, and bleach the rest white.
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Old 11-28-2007, 08:53 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Thanks a ton for your post. I see a lot of money spent on black t-shirts in my future.
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Old 11-29-2007, 11:58 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by essendoubleop
I'm thinking about doing the same thing. I have a black sun tattooed on the left side of my chest. I was thinking about making the inverse on a shirt that aligns with the tattoo, except the tattoo on the shirt would be white.

Another thing I was thinking about. What if you did it the negative? I mean cover a design on the fabric and bleach the rest of the shirt? This would give you choices of color instead of just white on black. You could take a red shirt, cover a heart-shape in the front, and bleach the rest white.
Depending on how much bleach you use, you'd also have to protect the underside of the shirt where your design will be.

You could bleach a design into a black shirt and then immerse the shirt in a lighter dye color. The dye wouldn't do much to the black, but the bleached area would take on the color of the dye.

You're also not limited to just black shirts ... any color can be bleached; but the darker the better ...
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Old 12-18-2007, 12:34 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Wow this is brilliant, cant wait to try it.
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Old 12-27-2007, 08:12 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Man, that's very damn cool. Unfortunately, I am as non-DIY a person as can be. I'm just a klutz and incapable of getting anything right. But my roommate is really handy, maybe I'll rope him into trying this.
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Old 01-02-2008, 07:34 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Bumping this thread because it doesn't deserve to be anywhere but the top of the page.
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Old 01-02-2008, 08:38 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I'll be making a few t-shirts it looks like.

(Go Arizona State!)
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Old 01-23-2008, 01:51 PM   #19 (permalink)
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wait so you put the bleach in the spray bottles and spray it on?
so you can only get that orange-ish color?

even if it's only one color it's still tight though
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Old 01-23-2008, 02:58 PM   #20 (permalink)
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holy shit! thanks twisted.
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Old 01-23-2008, 03:56 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Wow! Awesome stuff!!!
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Old 06-04-2008, 02:28 AM   #22 (permalink)
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i think this needs a bump.

awesome stuff.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:58 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Agreed- this is pretty cool. I played with this a bit. As posted above, it works just dandy. As an added twist I tried bleaching, then dying and rebleaching. It lets you get a broader range of colors, and it works pretty well. Just follow the instructions on the dye packet. I used RIT dye.
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Old 06-16-2008, 01:04 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clermont
Agreed- this is pretty cool. I played with this a bit. As posted above, it works just dandy. As an added twist I tried bleaching, then dying and rebleaching. It lets you get a broader range of colors, and it works pretty well. Just follow the instructions on the dye packet. I used RIT dye.
For goodness sake, post pics!
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Old 08-22-2008, 10:49 PM   #25 (permalink)
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This is the front and back of the same shirt:


I started off with a black shirt, then bleached out the top front which you now see was kind of a burgundy-grey. After rinsing it out I dyed the whole thing with a red RIT dye, rinsed again (red dye's a pain), then bleached around the star in the back. I dyed the shirt yellow, since I wanted more of a gold field around the star. What I got was kind of subtle, but if you compare between the area around the star and say the gryphon on the front, they're different colors. Part of that was from not really bleaching anything totally white. Then I bleached the griffin and the crescent, rinsed some more, and voilla! The colors are a bit more vibrant in person, but it's still kind of subdued.

Last edited by Clermont; 08-22-2008 at 10:57 PM..
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