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Picture of Make a t-shirt into hangable art
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Have a shirt that you love, but don't love to wear?
Stretch it over some canvas bars and make it into a piece of hangable art!

What you'll need:

* Awesome Shirt
* Heavy-Duty Stapler/Staple Gun with 3/5" staples
* Pliers
* Hammer
* Canvas Stretchers - two 14" and two 18" (I used Fredrix brand stretchers)
   use whatever dimensions match the shirt's printed area
   (canvas stretchers are usually $1-2 at any art supply store)
 
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Step 1: Test your stretchers

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Make sure the stretchers when roughly assembled fit over your entire design.

Measure the design before you pick out your stretchers. Most sites post the printed size of the design in the details.

Step 2: Putting together the stretcher

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Put together the corners of the stretcher.

You may need to use the hammer to bring the ends together on each stretcher bar.

Repeat until you have all corners at 90 degrees.  After it's square, it's a good idea to staple each of the corners to keep them together (though I didn't bother).

Step 3: Placement

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Put the completed stretcher over the design for rough placement, then lay the shirt over the stretcher.

Fold the back of your shirt roughly over where you're going to be stapling it to the stretcher.

Turn it over, design facing you, to do the final placement of the design.  Does it need to come up, or to the left?  Decide that now.

Once you have it in place, get ready to staple.

The shirt will look baggy over the stretcher.  Don't freak out.

Step 4: Stapling - Round One: North, South, East, West

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This first round of staples, we're just getting it into place.

One staple each goes at north, south, east and west.  Start with the top staple, around the shirt's collar.

Next, do the bottom staple.  Pull the bottom of the shirt fairly taught, but not as tight as you can.  The point is not to get the shirt drum-tight at this stage.

Next, do the left and the right, putting the staples directly across from each other.

Once you flip over the shirt to look at the design, it will still be baggy, especially around the corners.

Step 5: Stapling - Round Two: Corners

Flip it over again so you can see the back of the shirt and the stretcher.  Now we're going to do the corners.

One at a time, stretch the corners taught.  This is where you'll need to use the stapler with one hand, or have a helper.  Staple on one side of the fold, then the other, while holding the shirt taught.

Follow the images and fold the corners toward the center of the stretcher, then staple on top of that. Note: This is where 3/5" staples will come in handy.  Mine were 1/4", and I had a hard time getting them through all the fabric.  A hammer helped.

Step 6: Stapling - Round Three: Staple Like Crazy, AARRGGHH

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The back of your shirt should look something like this... It should have about 16 staples in it so far.

Now we're going to put a staple in the shirt every two inches.  You know the drill, pull the shirt taught, put in a staple.

This will seriously take out all of the bagginess on the display side.  Just be sure to flip it over every so often to make sure it's looking good.  If something needs loosened or tightened, you can always pull out a staple with your trusty pliers.

Step 7: Cut the shirt or Staple the loose ends.

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You have to make a choice.  Are you certain you'd never like for this to be a shirt again?  If so, you can go the easier route and cut off the excess material in the back.  I'd especially recommend this for a larger shirt.  I used a men's medium, and you can see how much extra material I had.

Anyway, I did it the hard way.  I stapled down the sleeves and the bottom of the shirt to the inside edge of the stretcher.  This step made it so that the stretched shirt could be placed all the way against the wall without the excess material puffing outwards.

Step 8: Display!

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Drive two level nails into the wall, nail coming up slightly, and hang up your new art!

Me?  I didn't have any nails, so I set it on my hutch against the wall.
Kris T.1 year ago
So cool! For some reason every time I tried to look up t-shirts as wall decor ('cause I wanted to do it too and see how others did it), it would never show a t-shirt version, just scrap pieces of fabric.

I will definitely use this method the next time I have a shirt that's unwearable but still loved.
drwebster2 years ago
that`s so nifty
SharonH3 years ago
Thanks so much! I'm going into my stash of T-shirts I couldn't bear to give away. There's a cool James Dean there somewhere!
BitterYouth3 years ago
this is really cool. thank you so much for the detailed instructions and pictures with notes!!
canida4 years ago
Cool idea! A great way to save your favorite shirts when they're about to disintegrate, too.