Saturday, October 9, 2010

Crafty Creations: Make Your Own T-Shirts

If you want something done, then do it yourself! Eric and I have been searching high and low for the past several weeks to find a "Big Sister" shirt for Evelyn to wear when she visits Grace in the hospital. There are dozens of online outlets that we could've ordered from, but we thought for sure someplace would have them in-store. Wrong. Not even Babies 'R Us had big sister t-shirts. And when we did get close to finding one, the smallest size they had in stock was a 3T. Seems that the rest of the world isn't crazy enough to have two babies that are only 16 months apart. Go figure. :)

Knowing that we're running out of time, Eric finally suggested something I was thinking all along; that I should make my own big sister shirt for Evelyn. I knew that if it came down to it that I could make a shirt, but I wanted something that I knew would look good, haha. I'm all for home made, but this was one thing that for whatever reason my pregnant brain decided needed to be professionally done. It was our third failed attempt at a Babies 'R Us that I finally gave in and decided that Super Mom was going to have to come to the rescue. (That's my alter-ego, in case you didn't know. We all have just a little bit of Super Mom lurking in us somewhere. Unless you're a guy. Then that's just weird!)  

There's a really cool technique for making your own t-shirts using freezer paper that I had never tried before. After using our handy dandy iPhone to look up the supplies I would need, I sent Eric into the store to pick up the materials, and then I was set to get my craft on!

To make your own shirt you'll need:
Freezer Paper
An iron
Fabric paint
A light colored shirt
A sponge brush
An exacto knife, scissors, or Cricut cutting machine

The first step to making your own t-shirt is to create a stencil. On your freezer paper, create your design on the dull side with the shiny side facing down. I used my Cricut machine to design and cut out my stencil, but there's nothing stopping you from good old fashioned tracing and cutting out! I would recommend using an exacto knife in this case for more precise cuts. It may take a bit longer, but you should get the same results.

Tips if you ARE using the Cricut:

Make sure to load your mat with the dull side of the freezer paper DOWN. The slick surface of the shiny side won't adhere properly to the mat. Because of this, you'll want to make sure that your "Flip" key is turned on so that you don't end up with a backwards stencil. And here's the big tip that I messed up on my first attempt: If you're putting text on your shirt, make sure to enter the letters backwards. So for example, to cut the word "BIG" I pressed G-I-B. 

And just FYI: I used the Plantin Schoolbook cartridge. Gracie's name was cut using the "shadow" feature at one inch, and "Big Sister" was cut using the "Roly Poly" feature. "Big" was cut at 2 inches and I believe I cut "Sister" at 1 1/4 inches. (This was for a size 18 months t-shirt.)

*ALRIGHT, now that we have our stencils we should be all caught up with each other, regardless of how the stencil was made.*   

This would be a good time to go ahead and turn on your iron. Set it at medium heat with no steam. On my iron, I set the heat to level "3." 

Next, take your stencils and line them up (shiny side DOWN) on top of your shirt. Make sure if you have text to include the "inside pieces" of letters. (For example, the letter "A" has one inside piece, and the letter "B" has two inside pieces.) Then take your iron, and carefully but briefly press the freezer paper onto your shirt!

It didn't take long at all for the freezer paper to adhere to my t-shirt. Just a few passes did the trick. I made sure to be extra thorough around the inside edges of some of the letters to prevent any paint from bleeding later on. Once your paper is stuck to your shirt, you're ready to paint!

Eric picked up this neat fabric spray paint for me, and the consistency of it it was perfect. However, I was skeptical about the "spray" part, so I decided to test it out on some scrap paper before using it on my project. Boy am I glad I did! This was how the paint came out:

See the splatters? Yikes! So instead, I unscrewed the caps and poured a little bit of paint onto a paper plate, and I used a sponge paint brush to apply the paint to the shirt. Make sure to slip some kind of paper inside of the shirt before painting, otherwise the paint will bleed through to the other side. That's just not cute, and we appreciate cute around here. :)

I used only the tip of the brush, and I dabbed the paint on in a straight up and down motion. I was hoping this was the safest way to prevent the paint from bleeding, and I would definitely recommend using this technique on your own project. Oooh, here comes the pink! :)

Once your entire stencil is filled in, force yourself to wait about 15-20 minutes before removing the freezer paper.  Hehe, I know, the best part is revealing what you've done! I have to be honest here, I was scared that when I lifted my paper all I would see was a bunch of blurry edged lines. BUT...I was pleasantly surprised with the results! 

Here's the shirt with still-fresh paint. I think it looked even better once the paint had time to dry a little more. Certainly up close you can see the tiny imperfections, but from just a few feet away it looks awesome! This "must buy from the store" mom was pleased. :)

I decided a little later on to add some bling with a few flower gem embellishments that I had lying around. I still need to get my hands on some fabric glue to permanently adhere them, but I laid them on the shirt to give you an idea of what I'm thinking about. Let me know (for real!) if you think the shirt looks better without them. I still have time to change my mind on this one. Well...not much time, haha. Gracie could come right now...or now! 

What do you think? Gems or no gems?

Eric and I are so happy with the final product that we'd like to make a matching onesie for Gracie, too. So if she waits long enough to arrive, Grace should have a onesie to wear that might just say something like, "Evie's Little Sister." :)

Once you get the technique down, this really is a quick project. I could probably whip out a dozen of these things in an hour. And it's lots of fun! This is yet another project I think the older kids would have fun helping with, too. In the end, I'm really glad that we weren't able to find a big sister shirt in the store. I'd much rather have one that is custom with our daughter's name printed on it. Oh, what we won't do for pictures these days!


rachel said...

definitely keep the gems!!! i love the little flower as a comma...cute idea!!

joyce said...

Love It!!!

Helen Fowler said...

Love the gems!

Cassie said...

so cute!! i can't wait to see the one you make for grace. you should have included a price breakdown, so we can see how much you saved by making your own.


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