Friday, January 18, 2013

Stenciled Boy Valentine Shirt

Ah, my very first blog post.  Where to start?  I love crafting and spend most of my free time coming up with new things to try.  They don't always work out the way I'd planned, but I can almost always make it work.  In fact, one of our two family mottos is "Make it happen" (but you must state it in a pseudo-highfalutin manner) and I strive to always do that.  Our other motto is "It still works", which we use to justify not replacing malfunctioning electronic equipment, but that's besides the point.

Today, I'd like to share a shirt that I made for my 4-year-old son for last Valentine's Day.  It's hard to find boy Valentine shirts in stores, so I came up with my own.  I don't have step-by-step pics, but the process was fairly simple.

Wash and dry a white cotton t-shirt.
Lay flat and put a piece of cardboard inside to prevent paint from seeping through to the back.
Create a stencil for the word "throb" using the Classic font on the Cricut.  I did a 1-inch size letter.
Use a craft punch to make a heart-shaped stencil in a size consistent with the font.
Lightly apply glue stick to the stencils and press onto the shirt.
Working quickly, dab red fabric paint over the stencil with a slant-tip foam brush (you might think a flat brush is better - I find the slant brush gives more precision).  I used a slightly glittery red paint and it was fab.  Don't over-do the volume of paint, because it WILL seep under the stencil and your letters will be blurry/unreadable and your will have to start over or paint on random designs to cover up your boo-boo.  Also be careful to not paint beyond the edges of the stencil - which sounds obvious, but it happens.
Once letters are well-filled, blot with a clean paper towel.  Eyeball and fill in anything you missed.
Remove stencils by pulling straight up with one hand and holding down the shirt with the other.
If any paper bits are left behind, try to remove with a pair of tweezers.  Don't fret if you can't get them all.  Once the paint sets (72 hours or whatever your directions say on the bottle), you can wash the shirt and the bits will come off in the wash.
Your options here are endless - there are tons of puns and plays-on-words to work with.  You can use any combo of shirt and paint colors.  I've used this same technique countless times since then for a sorts of events (Field Day team shirts, Easter, Thanksgiving, birthdays, fundraisers...).  I also sometimes, depending on the complexity of the design, will use freezer paper, which has the advantage of being self-adhesive (after ironing-on).  It pulls off really nicely when you are done and doesn't require any shenanigans with the tweezers and paper bits.  Also, because it's bonded to the shirt, there is less trouble with paint seeping under the stencils.  But it is harder to come by than cardstock, so I use it sparingly.  In terms of paint, any craft store will have a fair selection of fabric paints (use coupons!), but if you look carefully, can you also find a medium that you can add to regular acrylic paint and turn that paint into fabric paint, which is great becasue it really expands the color selection for you.  I found mine far away from the fabric paint aisle, mixed in with the chalkboard and glow-in-the-dark special paints in the acrylic paint aisle.

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