How to Make a DIY Spray Paint T-Shirt

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Introduction: How to Make a DIY Spray Paint T-Shirt

About: Threadbanger is a network for people who love to DIY, recreate, refashion and craft. Forget about corporate stores, we're here to help you create and find your own style! From our episodes, forum and blog to...
This week on Thread Heads, we take a look back at our first episode with a fun T-Shirt stencil and spray paint job. If you have any cool DIY projects like this one,send them in! send them in! And don't forget to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes!


Step 1: Stencils

First, with some poster board, trace a few designs. We picked crosses.

Carefully cut out the shapes.

Step 2: Dye

Using a plain white T, you can make your own color by using some rit dye and boiling water.

Step 3: Spray Paint (Part 1)

On one side of the shirt, use the left over poster board as a stencil and spray paint lightly to prevent the paint from bleeding.

Step 4: Spray Paint (Part 2)

On the other side, use the cut outs and spray paint.

Step 5: Personalize

Give your shirt a personalized look by cutting or poking holes, dying, and/or adding some cool stitching.

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    i believe this is a video on spray painting t-shirts. anyways, thanks for the tips ,. ive tried it before and it didnt work out so well, now i know what to do! great style!

    To get a sharp edge (i.e. fine detail) on this bit, you can use some spray mount on the reverse of the stencil, smooth the tshirt out nice and flat and then press the stencil down.

    1 reply

    Or, if you're only using your stencil once, you could cut it out of contact paper, and just stick it onto the shirt.

    I've found it in grocery stores near the detergent section, but they usually have very limited color choices. you might want to check online or several different stores. they're pretty inexpensive ($3) for a box, but be sure to follow the directions carefully. I've dyed a white dress blue and white jeans purple and it's worked fantastically.

    I have a shirt that I am going to try the spray paint idea on...my questions are what type of spray paint should I use that works best? How would I keep the paint from bleeding too much from the stencil so I don't get too fuzzy a look and finally...Could I use glo paint over the spray paint so I can have a glow effect at night? Any suggestions would help thanks.

    By "lightly" you mean few times? How many actually? 

    2 replies

    you could put some posterboard in the inside of the shirt.

    I think 'lightly' means to hold the can far enough back from the shirt so that the paint doesn't soak through, but rather lays on top. You kind of mist it on until the color is as solid as you want it. I hope this was helpful.

    I printed some designs onto plain paper, then laminated them before cutting them out to make them more durable. If your design is quite complex & fiddly to cut out it's probably worth the effort. For simple designs like your crosses I guess it'd take longer than just making the stencil again.

    1 reply

     An easier way to create a more durable design while allowing complex designs is to use Cardstock.  You can get it at any office supply store, its just a thicker style of paper that is similar to poster board.  Also if your design uses multiple pieces you can use Spray mount to keep them attached to the shirt without making it sticky.

    I'm not 100% sure, but I believe in this video, he isn't holding/taping/adhering the stencils down in any way. They're made of posterboard and he's painting almost completely perpendicular to them so the paint isn't making them move around, plus, he's doing thin layers. It also doesn't appear to be the slightest bit of wind, which will help. I personally *love* using freezer paper. You iron it on, slick side down, to your fabric and it'll stay until you peel it off. It won't leave a single bit of residue, and there's no way your paint will bleed. Plus, it's cheap as hell!

    I've got a question, is there a type of spray paint you use to do this with? I'd imagine if I use the normal stuff you would spell like paint (or worse) for a year :D

    1 reply

    Sometimes people like the smell... lol

    Hey, I make spray paint t-shirts a lot but I still haven't figured out a more convenient way of making tiny stencils (like the ones in this photo) to stick without using my hands. Any suggestions? Is tape the best way?

    2 replies

    Hey use blue painters tape, it is easy to shape rip and cut the way you want it :)! also easy to peel

    Not sure if I get your question but I think you are asking is there a way to hold the stencil to the shirt without using your fingers? I move forward with that question. I use two different ways when this is necessary. 1. If it is for a stencil I am only going to use once(maybe a few times) and it is small enough I actually carve it out on 2 inch masking tape. The tape holds it pretty well and prevents bleedding pretty nicely. This method is also nice because you can stick the tape to the surface you are cutting the stencil on and you don't have to worry about the paper flying around like it does. 2. If its for a permanent stencil I use a fabric adhesive that holds the stencil to the shirt but will wash off later. I don't have any right now or I would give you a brand name, I am pretty certain you can find it at most art/craft stores. Taping down the stencil will also work but that will make it easier for paint to slip under the stencil. Hope this helped.

    I spray my own shirts pretty frequently but I have always gone with white because the t-shirts that they sell at stores are way too vibrant(color wise) to go along with the more dirty spray paint feel. Anyway, the white is starting to get old and dying the white shirts had never even crossed my mind until i read this instructable. Gunna make some awesome shirts now! Great article, hope a mod gets rid of all this religious garbage clogging the comments...

    A coat of spraymount, like 3M 77 spray, is good. Let it dry before you stick it down, so that the goo doesn't get into the fibers. It shouldn't leave any appreciable residue on the shirt.

    Harikikusari, I spray paint shirts all the time. To get the smell out just wash the shirt (once it is COMPLETELY DRY) with regular detergent and use fabreez on it or repeat wash if it doesn't get out the first time. Seriously, the smell is gone in under three washes, I promise. You can also soak it (when it is completely dry! I usually wait a few hours to be safe) in a scented soap along with fabreez (or something like it) for about an hour and then rinse it and dry and it will be fine. And if that doesn't work... well, after a while, you get used to it lol. Spray paint is easier to combat then one might think. :)