Introduction: Turn Your Old Shirt Into a Rad New Creation

Picture of Turn Your Old Shirt Into a Rad New Creation

Today I will show YOU how to turn an old shirt into a crazy new hyped up rad piece of ART and in plus you get to show off you work by wearing it!

This is the current technique used by Monkey Business, a small home based compagnie that makes custom shirts and other cool stuff.

They use this technique because it is the simplest way to transmit you art onto fabric.

If you want to see more shirts made by MB, head on over to they're website!

Step 1: Your Image

Picture of Your Image

The fist thing you need is a good image. start off with a nice an simple design (my first was a cloud...). It doesnt have to complicated to be beautiful.

it can be a color image... just turn it black and white, mess around with the contrast a bit until you're happy with it, then print it out on acetate paper (clear plastic paper used for projectors)

In this particular stencil, i wanted it to be big, so i put it on two pages, if your doing a multiple page stencil, make sure you have abit of over lappping room, so that your not lost when positionning the second (or third...) stencil.

Step 2: Cut That Thing OUT!

Picture of Cut That Thing OUT!

When your cutting out your stencil, make sure you take your time and make it worth your time. Allways pre plan you bridges (connecters between “islands” and “mainland”). If you rush the job, it will be messy, you will probably cut a bridge or something worst.

Play some music, turn on a TV in the background (dont watch it... watch what your cutting) or turn on the radio. this make your cutting more enjoyable and make time fly by.

Use an Exacto knife, it is the ideal thing to use. but if no exacto knives are near by, and you NEED to cut it out, i guess a VERY sharp knife will do. By the way, an exacto knife costs about 2$, its well worth the money.

Get a cutting board. you do not want to cut yourself or you table... that would be a bad thing to do.

LIGHT!! make sure you are in a well light area so you can see what you are doing. and wear you glasses if you have any, cutting out stencils is tough on you eyes after a while.

its better to cut too little than too big, you can allways make an area larger, but not smaller. what is cut is cut.

Step 3: Before the Paint

Picture of Before the Paint

Before you take out the brush and paint, take a deep breath. there are some essential steps to do before the moment of truth.

Find shirt. im sure you allready found one, but if you did not, go find one RIGHT NOW!

Good, now iron the shirt. The iron not only flattens the shirt out to make it easier to work with, but it heats up the cloth, and loosens the material up, making it absorb more paint.

Put a piece of cardboard or wood in the shirt. You do not want paint to "break on through to the other side" (DOORS!).

Get some spray on glue, this is not 100% necessairy, but nearly anialates any chance of making mistakes, so if your a nervous one as i am, get the stuff.

place the stencil on the shirt, put some tape around the perimiter of the stencil to avoid heart breaking stains.

Also Make sure to cover your working space in newspaper or garbage bags, to protect them for paint spills.

Step 4: Paint!

Picture of Paint!

Now is the fun bit of the transformation, get out you paint, and mix them untill you find your desired color.

Be sure not to make too complicated mixes because you will need more... and if the colors dont look the same then your shirt looks clumbsy.

I use acrylic paint mixed with Textile Medium, it stays in fine and does not wash out... but if you want to spend a few extra bucks, get the fabric paint. its basically the same thing, your just paying more.

Normally i use a Stecil brush but for this particular shirt, i used my trusty sponge, i find sponges to suck up alot of the paint, but they give a nice even coat.

Do NOT use a wet paintbrush of sponge, the wetness will leak throught the stencil and spread the paint. Trust me i know from experience. So when changing paints, be sure to COMPLEATLY dry your weapon of choice.

Start painting, up and down motions, NOT side to side, if you do side to side, your risking to lift up the edge of the stencil and painting under it...

when your 100% sure that you did not miss a spot, you are now ready for the moment of truth...

Step 5: The Moment of Truth

Picture of The Moment of Truth

Gently peel off the stencil, making sure your not ripping it (to use it agin later)

Admire your work, take a quick break, then repeat steps 3 to 5 untill compleat satisfaction.

That is how you stencil on a shirt.

The most important thing to remember is that YOU are the artist, not me. So take risks, learn from your mistakes and have fun with your stencilling.

To tell you the truth, i messed up alot of shirts when i started out, but i used the mistakes to make the shirt look even better.

If you stain your shirt, dont worry, make your shirt a "grungy" shirt, it will make it look more original.

The rest of the picutres are a few shirts ive made in the past...

Thanks for reading my Instructable, If you have ANY question or comment please comment below.



kadeishasims (author)2010-06-06

i wanna know where i can buy plain ts with hhis its plain at first but has a fye color to it.anyone us where i can find sum

r3cycl3dartrat (author)2010-05-02

BANKSY is my favorite artist!
Now I have a second favorite........ YOU!
Have you ever tried doing this on pants? After reading your instructable, I was stoked that my brain actually absorbed all the information properly and I diy'ddd some gnar-gnar shirts-even the ones I made mistakes on turned out gnarly- then I thought that it might be cool to stencil up some banksy+you (yes, you!) inspired jeans and (drumroll....)
They turned out pretty friggin rad.

Luuke (author)r3cycl3dartrat2010-05-03

would love to see some pictures of what you did!

Lance Mt. (author)2009-07-24

I need some help on that tetris print. Any news on how primiers go? Anyone trying it?

Luuke (author)Lance Mt.2010-04-20

i havent done a tetris one since the original one i did... but for the primers, i would first of all not recommend a black shirt :P if you are going to go black shirt. i would go an easy coat of white where all your blocks will be. let it dry, then go for the full colorful paints after.

MrL33TPenguin (author)Lance Mt.2009-09-29

I just thought that primer would be like a lighter color then the base color. Like you would use white paint on top of a black shirt.

Soupraok (author)2010-01-07

How long should we let it dry.

Luuke (author)Soupraok2010-04-20

i normally let them dry for about 30mins, then iron them.

Luuke (author)2010-04-20

yea, sorry.

well use the spray glue on the stencil before you place it on the shirt, that way your sure that the stencil wont move and leak everywhere. (be easy one the glue, you dont want it to stay there for ever. also let it dry for a couple minutes before)

i use acrylic paint, mixed with a textile medium.

GaryKoji (author)2010-04-20

What is the SprayGlue for? You say to buy it, but don't mention at all what to do with it??

GeekyGirl1103 (author)2010-03-10

Darn, I wish I had thought of mixing acrylic paint with textile medium, but I had to go and buy expensive fabric paint instead. >.<  What color textile medium do you recommend?

Thank you so, so much for this. I'm definitely going to try it soon. And I love your art so much.

Mcanical (author)2009-12-10

You are a freakin artist man!  Love it all!

antone16 (author)2009-11-15

can you make me a shirt plz, email is, email about price, or anything!
: )

noahh (author)2009-07-26

Banksy! Yay!

Justin Lam (author)2009-07-22

I love it! Especially the raining men on the purple tee. Very nice. Where'd you get your paint?

michi123123 (author)2009-06-24

what so u use the spray for? and wat paint do u use?

indiegoober (author)2008-04-06

when I tried using acrylic with textile medium the fabric really wouldn't take the paint- do you get it to work alright on dark shirts (i see you have a black shirt but is that the same paint)? and I'm assuming you put the spray adhesive on the stencil? does that make the shirt tacky? do you use a more back and forth painting or stipple (sp?) method of applying the paint? sorry to ask so many questions but i really want to try this and have it work since i've had trouble with it in the past

Luuke (author)indiegoober2008-04-06

Hey indiegoober, dont put too muc textile medium... just like a 1 part text med for 4 parts paint... if you look at the picture you'll see that i use just a couple drops of text med... On the Tetris shirt, i used up ALOT of paint... i wouldn't recommend doing what i did... after that shirt, i realised that i should of used a primer (white or smthn first... then paint on top of that to use less paint and more intense colors) but i didnt use different paint... Be sure not to put TOO much spray...and to let it dry a bit (2-3 mins) when sometimes there is alot of spray glue, there is a little residue, but it goes away after a wash... or most of the time after i iron the shirt... that happens rarly... but there is no worries (at least i have never had any glue problems... DO NOT GOT BACK AND FORTH!!! u could lift the stencil accidentally and paint under it... i go up and down (pushing a button motion...) sometimes i might use the back an forth motion for big areas... No problem, i really dont mind answering your questions :) if u gots anymore... dont hesitate to ask

LILhazY (author)Luuke2009-06-13

hey wat kinda paint did you use was it acrillic ( how ever you say it) and ahh when you get your picture/design do u paste it onto microsoft word (lol im just new to instructables and dont know much :P ) btw nice 'ible

linxin (author)Luuke2008-07-30

Hi sunshine.1111, thanks for your awesome instructable!! I'm entirely new to this, and am thinking of starting! These custom-made shirts can be great gifts to people :D Just a question, sorry if it seems silly: the spray on glue that u used... what's its purpose? is it to stick on the paint? or is it to adhere the stencil to the shirt temporarily. Thanks! am really excited to try this out.

extratooth2 (author)2009-05-22

I really like this instructable, but the fact that you just copy Rob Dobi's design and don't even give him credit (the purple one with the people falling) really angers me. I know you'll do the right thing and give him credit. Sorry, I just feel credit should be given where credit is due

Zippy_Pyromaniac (author)2009-05-08

Could spray-on fabric paint work easier?

happylue (author)2009-01-16

i really like the purple shirt with the falling people, i was looking for a simmilar thing, what is the effect called when a shape changes into something different like that?

lizbeth333 (author)2008-08-25

whats the spray on glue for? by the way it's a great Instructable, i'm totally going to use it.

bacaboi (author)lizbeth3332008-09-17

It says above. "anialates any chance of making mistakes" It holds the paper/overhead plastic paper down on the it wont slide, bend, move.

ItsTheHobbs (author)bacaboi2008-11-23

annihilates. not anialates.

Spookeriffic (author)2008-09-15

Great instructable - question - is it possible to use spraypaint instead of sponging it on? If you spray in light coats? I know they've also come out with spray fabric paint...

bacaboi (author)Spookeriffic2008-09-17

I dont see why it wouldn;t work. That seems alot easier(using spray fabric paint) no bruch, less paint wasted.

santy22 (author)2008-04-11

Don't swallow the can ROFL Look in the sky! its a bird! Its a plane! It's Can-swallowing man!!! CSM- Yay i love so swallow cans so other people don't!

firesketch (author)santy222008-08-14

Man, you've gotta love these silly little daydreams... :)

muffinhead (author)2008-04-16

hey, where do you get the tv image from? ive been looking for one for the past few days. great instructable by the way.

alvincredible (author)2008-04-11

DUDE if i saw this during the contest period id've voted for this! i love it sorry for not seeing it sooner. its great!

Luuke (author)alvincredible2008-04-11

what ever.. those contests are rigged anyways :P

TouchTheSquid5 (author)2008-04-10

Make sure to read the bottle of the paint you're using. When you use acrylic paint with textile medium is tells you to let it dry for 24 hours and then IRON the design (from the inside of the shirt is best) to help cure and set the paint into the fabric. Nice job, I never thought to just print it straight onto overhead paper, I take the longer route and just lay the design under the stencil material and cut though the plastic.

Luuke (author)TouchTheSquid52008-04-10

yea thats what i was doing before too :P until the idea hit me... um about the 24hr thing... i dont really do that... i just wait a coupel hours or so to make sure all the paint has dried then i iron on both sides fo the painted area... but thats just me...

cassiejade (author)2008-04-09

Wow, Super talented! I love screen-printing and stencilling, so much fun! Do you just use hand-cut ones? Because I noticed with the Marilyn (mouth) & Glasses ones, there are no bridgey bits. How are you doing those?

Luuke (author)cassiejade2008-04-09

Thanks :) yea i hand cut all my stencils... for the marlyn one (the mouth and eyes) i just made bridges... then since they were ugly, i painted over them with a paint brush after i took off the stencil.

abbiegrrl (author)2008-04-06

GOSH, blueblur!! It was flippin' Marilyn! ! But I will ask you, what ever happened to Fay Wray? (BTW, This instructible is great!!)

blueblur (author)2008-04-04

That 7th picture in the last step makes me think of Rocky Horror. Michael Rennie was ill, The day the earth stood still, but he told us where we stand... What? Oh, right. Great Instructable! You have my vote!

Luuke (author)blueblur2008-04-04

its Marlyn Monroe :)

zenser (author)2008-04-02

Well done! you got my vote.

MLaP9 (author)2008-03-27


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