Monday, March 17, 2014

Stencil Shirts. Warning: This is addicting!

We have six months to go until our next big trip to Disney. We aren't people who go on vacation to Orlando and stop by Disney. We DO Disney. Eight days on Disney property and we don't typically venture out into the rest of Orlando at all. We are Disney loyal, I guess. And I put about nine months into planning each trip. From outfits to wear, meal reservations, which parks to visit on which days, researching the best shoes to wear, picking a perfect park bag... My point is, you will be hearing a lot about Disney on this blog!!!

This year, I'm trying to make lots of fun and useful Disney crafts to keep us busy as we wait for it to be time to go on this trip! One of the first crafts we attempted was a stencil shirt. I was so scared it wouldn't turn out. But it did! And then I made another... and another... And I can't stop! Because it is seriously so easy and the shirts look REALLY GOOD.

And here's the great thing! I would say I spent about $15 on supplies. Then I bought some shirts on sale at the craft store for $2.50 but I realized we'd get sick of the same old basic t-shirt if that's what we wore all week. So we started hitting up the thrift stores on 50% off weekends. I found some cute shirts just right for stenciling for as low as FORTY FIVE CENTS A PIECE. No joke. One new t-shirt at Disney will cost you around $30. But if you shop the deals and use coupons at the craft store, for not much more than that, you could have shirts for your entire family for EACH DAY of  vacation!

See? I'm not kidding! This shirt was ninety cents which is already a steal but I went on 50% off day and got it for forty-five cents. You really just can't beat that!

So let's get started!!!

You will need:
  • a t-shirt
  • freezer paper
  • printer and paper
  • xacto knife
  • cutting mat
  • iron and ironing board
  • old cereal boxes or other cardboard
  • fabric paint--I like to use Tulip soft fabric paints, particularly "night sky", which looks the most like a store-bought silk screened shirt to me
  • foam paintbrush--you could use a regular paint brush but a foam brush works much, much better

Step one: find a stencil you like!

I recommend choosing a character you'd like to use and doing a web search for that character plus "pumpkin stencil" or "pumpkin carving stencil".  Look for images that are a downloadable PDF because that's really easiest to work with.

Here's one great site I found:

Spoonful: Halloween Carving Templates 

 Step two: Print your image. 

If it's for a child, you may want to print the image at 75% of full size. For a baby, you can go even smaller than that. It may take a little trial and error with printing to get it the right size.

If you want to add words to your shirt, you will need to use a stencil font. I just googled "stencil font" and found one I liked. You download it, open the file and it should have a little button that says "install font". Install it and the next time you open your word processing program, it will be listed with all your other fonts. The one I used is called vegetable and I found it here:

Vegetable Font 

 I highly, highly recommend NOT using text your first time around. The pictures I took for this blog post were the first time I did words. It was harder than I thought it would be!

Step 3: Cut a piece of freezer paper.

Freezer paper comes in a huge roll. Cut a piece to be just a bit bigger than your printed page.

Step 4: Tape your printed stencil to the freezer paper. Make sure the freezer paper is SHINY SIDE DOWN!!!

Step 5: Tape the freezer paper and stencil to your cutting mat. 

Step 6: Cut all the black parts of your image out, leaving behind only the white space.

Cut through both layers of paper, starting with the smaller lines first, then the bigger lines that connect them. Go very slowly. This is the most important step so you really want to get this right. When you are down, pull the regular paper off of the freezer paper and throw it away.

Step 7:  Figure out how you would like to lay out your image on your shirt.

If your design is made up of more than one image, cut the individual parts out of the freezer paper, leaving plenty of paper around the edges to catch the paint as you stencil.

If you need to you can "patch" the shirt with extra freezer paper to help your paint not get on the shirt.

Step 8: Iron the freezer paper down. 

 The paper will iron right down to your shirt and it will also iron to itself so if you overlap pieces, it will all hold down very nicely.

If you have "flyaway" pieces that don't stay down, try running the iron over them from the opposite direction.

For really stubborn pieces, wet the area and then hold the iron down longer. Give the paper and shirt time to cool. Sometimes a little corner that doesn't seem to want to stay down will seal up as it cools.

Step 9: Put a piece of cardboard inside the shirt so your paint doesn't bleed through to the back. 

I like to save old cereal boxes for this purpose.

Step 10: Paint your stencil.

You want to dab the paint on gently in thin layers. I like to go over an area three times. You don't have to be perfect at this because the paint that "leaks" over the stencil will not seep through the freezer paper onto the shirt. I find that it works better to dab repeatedly as opposed to brushing the paint on, which is more likely to push up any of this finicky edges that you worked so hard to iron down!

Step 11: Let your paint dry for four hours.

It's hard to be patient but you gotta do it!

Step 12: Peel back your freezer paper to reveal your completed shirt!

Take it slow to ensure nice, neat edges.

 You may have to go back in after you peel back the main pieces and get the little bits that are stubborn. The xacto knife is actually perfect for getting under the edges of the stubborn pieces!

Step 13: Wait three days and then wash it.

The paint is dry after four hours but it needs at least three days to really set before it's safe to wash. I like to hang mine on the rod over the washing machine for a few days and then toss it in with a load of laundry once it is ready.

Step 14: Wear your shirt and enjoy!

 Here's another shirt we made! It's Ferb? Or Phineas? I can't tell which is which, to be honest! I'm planning to make myself an awesome Mary Poppins shirt this week, I promise to share it!


Some items we used for this project:

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