Stencil Painted T-Shirt

When I created my personalized bike license plate, I realized that the weeded part of the vinyl letters from my name would be a perfect stencil for a T-shirt.

I’ve painted T-shirts before, but not since I bought my Silhouette Cameo. Blogs abound with the instructions for cutting vinyl for a stencil and then painting either fabric or wood signs, and I definitely wanted to try this technique.

And it turns out it’s pretty easy and fun.

Normally, the first step is to create the stencil – you’d set up the words you want in Silhouette Studio and cut the vinyl, removing the letters and leaving behind the stencil portion. I already had this step done, so I skipped on down to the part where I took a clean T-shirt and put a piece of cardboard (a cereal box, my craft tool of choice) inside to keep the paint from seeping through.

The stencil for a painted T-shirt.

Somewhere, I lost the inside part of the “R” in Suzer. That’s called the counter, and I had intended on keeping it, but it was little and must be stuck to something (probably the bottom of a shoe). But it still looked good without it, so I used transfer tape to lift the stencil and place it on my shirt.

I decided to go with a lower corner application so if it didn’t work out as intended, I could still wear this shirt under something and any defects would be hidden.

It was a little tricky to get the vinyl off the transfer tape and onto the shirt – the tape was sticker than the shirt so it took a little patience and a little bravery to get it all off. I didn’t want any bleed under the stencil, so I rubbed it really hard to the shirt.

Painted T-shirt stencil

Using a foam brush and fabric paint, I pounced the first layer of paint onto the stencil. I let it kinda dry (maybe a half hour?) and then came back and put a second layer on to go over all of it. Be super careful not to go outside the bounds of the stencil – past experience has taught me that fabric paint is not forgiving when that happens. Next time I’m going to leave myself more safe space around my stencil.

There are differing opinions as to when you should remove the stencil. I went ahead and let this dry for a full 24 hours before pulling it off. I let it air dry another day, and then heat set it with an iron on it’s hottest setting (no steam), ironing it inside out for about five minutes, moving the iron constantly and concentrating on that painted area.

In the interest of science, I turned it inside out and washed it the next next day, and the paint held just fine. I wasn’t super careful about getting the paint even, so I ended up with a distressed look, which I think came out great.

Next stop? Paint all the things!


3 thoughts on “Stencil Painted T-Shirt”

  1. It looks great! I have a hard time positioning stencils and keeping the paint from bleeding on wood I can’t imagine how I would do it on fabric. Thank you for sharing at Ravenwould.

    1. I think the trick on fabric is to not be too aggressive on the edges. Forcing the paint to the edge of the stencil makes it seep under the edge. Going for the distressed look makes it much easier.

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