How to write on a T-shirt using a simple stencil

The idea stopped by one night after making this illustration. I had just painted on a cardboard sheet, cut the letters out and glued them next to the drawing and as I was looking at the new piece I wondered what could I do with what was left - the stencil that remained from taking the letters out... So I knew: let's use it to write and wear this beautiful message.

I prepared the fabric panels (but you can use a ready made T-shirt one you have around) and I thought a few strokes of paint would look interesting, so I applied acrylic with a small roller (supplies from the children's art & crafts department).
After it dried I secured the stencil with tape and began to dab paint over it using a sponge (it came with the same supplies set), but I believe a regular piece of household sponge works just fine.

I let it dry and ironed on the wrong side on the print for two-three minutes to set the paint, then sewed the panels and sleeves together, neckband, hems and that's it. I love the effect of the raw letters and how the design looks arty and unique. It is such a good feeling to be able to take a few materials and turn them into art you can wear, that didn't cost more than it should - to us and to our world.

  • Fabric or fabric panel or T-shirt
  • Acrylic paint or screen printing ink
  • Cardboard (stencil)
  • Craft knife/cutting tool (stencil)
  • Tape
  • Sponge, roller/brush (optional)
  • Iron (no steam function)
I hope this inspires you to create your unique mark making and wear it with joy! Like my son always says when he begins a project: 'the sky is NOT a limit!' :)

A DIY T-shirt

For this project I used a raglan T-shirt pattern I purchased (a while ago) from Schnittchen. As the absolute beginner I have been at that time, I thought it was incredibly easy and I was very happy to learn the techniques. I gifted all of my tolerant supportive friends with handmade tees. I still think it's a very good pattern & fit and I heartily recommend it.

But my DIY story starts long before I actually got next to a sewing machine, a few years back when almost over night I started a successful business painting T-shirts. I was creating one of a kind garments, helping people's ideas come to life - everyone got to be a designer, everyone was creative. And surely, everyone was happy - they could finally have the custom design they had dreamed of.

Soon, I started to dream too... I dreamed of making the T-shirts from scratch while using sustainable means, making my business 100% ethical and friendly to all. The journey wasn't easy and it was certainly not fast, but I did it. I have learned about fabric, about sustainable choice and market, learned to sew and even learned to draft T-shirts, making the experience truly unique.

I want to show you some of my creations and tutorials here so we can hopefully learn to be more creative and confident together. I know you have the best ideas!

For this T-shirt I used a soft organic jersey fabric from Discovery Knitting and a remnant piece for the sleeves. Before sewing the panels together I dipped a brush in acrylic (water based) and painted along the seams. I intentionally left the lines uneven and a bit smudgy for a raw look, in contrast with the neat dots & swallows print.

After the paint dried I sewed the pieces together, the neck binding and hems. That's it. I think all it takes to bring creativity forth is a bit of courage and trust that your mark making (both literally and figuratively speaking) is awesome and it doesn't compare to anyone else's. Making a positive contribution to the world through better consumption habits comes with the territory, so it's a wholesome win.