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I started with a t-shirt I bought from Walgreens.  Lighter colored t-shirts work better, as the fabric paint shows up more noticably.
First, I started by cutting a piece of FREEZER PAPER (available at any grocery store), to the size I wanted my design to cover, on the front of the t-shirt:
I was inspired by THIS painting done by Senn & Sons owner, Kimberly Senn. I loved its simple charm. I wanted to copy her same design, but make it a little more girl-like by painting it in a different color scheme. In order to copy her work, I used a pencil and divided my piece of freezer paper into 3 sections:
I then sat with her picture open on my Nook Color, and drew on my paper the designs that were in her three different paintings:
Next, cut out your penciled design with an x-acto knife. I always place a piece of cardboard (or a healing mat) under my design before I cut.  I usually have priority mail boxes on hand (to mail stuff to Steven), so I usually use those.
Once it’s cut out, decide which pieces you want to be painted. For mine, I decided I wanted the whale image to be the same color as the t-shirt, and the negative space (the space around the whale), to be colored. Place your image parts onto the t-shirt (shiny side down), and with an iron on cotton setting, gently run iron over your design. **Once ironed on, do not peel design off shirt:

I cut extra strips out and ironed around the edge, so I could have three separate color blocks like this:

Before I start painting, I always make sure to insert a piece of cardboard inside the shirt, so that the fabric paint won’t bleed through to the back side of the shirt:

I have my PEBEO Fabric paint, a nylon bristled brush, a towel, and some water, ready to begin painting:

I painted the yellow, washed my brush out, did the pink, etc… I do not ever mix water into my paint. I use the paint full strength. With the freezer paper adhered with the iron, its easy to stay in the lines!
Now I have painted all three color blocks in. I wait at least an hour for it to dry before removing (peeling off) the freezer paper stencil:
Here it is peeled off. Now I use my nylon brush again to touch up any areas that need a little smoothing, and I added the eye to the whale.
And here is how it turned out:
BUT….very important….to set your design, you must iron the front and back of the design after waiting 24 hours after you painted it on. When ironing over the front of the stencil, I use a cotton cloth underneath my iron, avoiding direct contact between the iron and the painted design:
Go ahead and give it a try! Even simple shapes like hearts or flowers can look very pretty on a t-shirt, a tea towel….or how about monogramming a bag for a friend as a gift?
Happy Stenciling!


Joy2Sew is a sewing business specializing in bridal alterations, custom costume creations, sewing lessons, and pdf patterns for children's costumes.

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