Monday, August 25, 2014

Freezer paper t-shirt stenciling.

[Originally posted here on July 29, 2014.]

My husband is not as geeky as I am. Fortunately, he loves me enough to not only put up with my geekiness, but to also engage in it. Last year, he watched Kaylie all weekend so I could take Wil with me to Dragon*Con, and this year, since my recently-retired parents are in town and can watch the kids, he's actually coming with me! Yay for having a con buddy this year! :-)

I've introduced him to quite a few of my favorite shows over the years. He liked "Firefly" (my personal favorite) enough that both our kids share names with main characters, but his favorite Whedon show is actually "Dollhouse" (which is also an awesome show!). So after I'd mentioned to him that maybe I ought to look into getting him some geeky tees to wear to Dragon*Con, he came to me with an idea for a "Dollhouse"-inspired shirt. Cue new craft project!

Freezer paper t-shirt stenciling.

This turned out to be a surprisingly easy project. I found this tutorial very helpful in getting started.

Here's what you'll need:

Plus foam brushes, which I forgot to grab for this picture....

  • T-shirt, prewashed
  • Freezer paper
  • X-acto knife
  • Cutting mat
  • Iron
  • Piece of cardboard
  • Fabric paint
  • Foam brushes (one for each paint color)

The first step is to sketch out your design. My hubby's idea was a minimalistic design with three flowers in a vase, all white but for the third flower, which would be green. (If you've seen "Dollhouse", you'll remember the phrase "There are three flowers in a vase. The third flower is green." It was one of those "HOLY CRAP DID THAT REALLY JUST HAPPEN OH MY GOSH THIS SHOW IS AWESOME" moments. If you haven't seen it, I won't spoil it for you, but I will instruct you to quit web-surfing right now to go watch it, immediately.) Anyway, I sketched out a few ideas for the shape of the vase and the type of flowers on a scrap of paper, and once Casey picked what he liked best, I sketched it out onto the non-shiny side of the freezer paper (forgot to take a picture), and then cut it out with the X-acto knife on the cutting mat.

It's a stencil, so the paint will go in the negative space. Cut accordingly.

Next, you'll iron your stencil onto your shirt, shiny side down (against the fabric).

I used a ruler to center my stencil. Make sure when you iron it that all the little edges are firmly pressed down with the iron, so that the paint won't seep under the paper. I used my iron's cotton setting, without steam.

Next, you'll need a piece of cardboard bigger than your to-be-painted area.

Insert the cardboard into the shirt, between the front and back layers of fabric, so that the paint won't soak through.

Then you get to paint!

Not much instruction here; just paint.

Finish one coat of one color and move on to the next.

I let it dry for about 45 minutes before applying a second coat of both colors. Follow the directions on your fabric paint; mine said to apply 1-2 coats, let dry 4 hours, and then hold a hot iron on a steam setting 1/2" above the paint to texture it, so after my second coat, I set the shirt aside for a few hours before removing the stencil.

Once the paint is thoroughly dry, peel back the freezer paper carefully.

I found it worked best to hold the shirt down with my fingers on the painted area right next to the edge of freezer paper I was peeling up; that way, I didn't run the risk of the paint not separating at the edge, and pulling off with the paper.

I was very pleased by how well the freezer paper worked--no bleeding at all!

Final design, pre-steaming with the iron.

And after can see that it made the painted sections curl a bit. Not really sure what the point of this step was, and I kind of preferred the way it looked before this step, but I was following the directions on my paint.

I thought it turned out well! We'll see how it holds up to washing, but just to be safe, I won't wash it before Dragon*Con! :-P

I made him let me take a picture.

"There are three flowers in a vase. The third flower is green."

Counting down the days till Dragon*Con!

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