Introduction: Custom Shirt Pocket

About: The number of projects I do and the number of Instructables I have written are not equal. I'm hoping to change that.

Since it's Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with You), I decided to type out a project I did a year ago. I was working at a camp that had a different theme each day. One particular day was focused on Star Wars. I didn't own anything for it, so I decided to make something.

This project can be customized in a wide variety of ways, but I will show you how I did it. Regrettably, I do not have pictures for every step, but I'll do my best to explain it anyway.

Let's get started with the supplies you'll need.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

The main needs:

  • A shirt
  • Extra Fabric
  • Fabric glue (unless you can sew)
  • Scissors
  • Iron

For my screen-printed design I used:

  • A picture frame
  • curtain sheer fabric
  • Vinyl material
  • Tape
  • Xacto knife
  • Stapler
  • Speedball Screenprinting Ink
  • Cardboard

Step 2: Making Your Screen

A year ago when I made this, I was experimenting with screen printing. I referenced a ton of different Instructables, one of which can be found here. I'll go over my steps briefly.

I bought the biggest picture frame I could find at Dollar Tree. I took everything out, leaving only the frame. I found some fabric sheer laying around the house. Curtain sheers are thin with lots of holes, perfect for budget silk screens. I cut it to fit the size of my frame.

  • Take your frame and place it on top of the sheer.
  • On one side of the frame, staple the fabric to the side facing you.
  • Slowly work your way around the whole frame until it is pulled tight on all the corners and sides.

It is worth noting that I used a regular office stapler for this since the dollar store frames are rather cheap and thin. I went around the frame with a dozen or so staples. It'll take a steady hand and a lot of patience to keep it tight.

Step 3: Making Your Screen Stencil

In the last step, you could see the beginning work of my stencil. To make it, I found an image online and tweaked it to my liking. Then, I printed it to the size I needed for my pocket. You will want to flip it before printing because it'll be reversed on your screen. I had forgotten this, but luckily my design worked either way.

This was before I got a cutting machine, so my stencil was cut by hand.

  • Roll your vinyl out and cut it to shape
  • Tape your printed design on top of your vinyl
  • Alternative: if you have a lightbox, you can place your design under your vinyl. It'll make it a lot easier.
  • Cut your design into the top layer of your vinyl (not the backing)
  • Remove the negative pieces
  • Add tape on top of it
  • Remove the backing, leaving the vinyl on your tape
  • Transfer it to the outside of your frame, not where your staples are.
  • Cover all the other exposed areas with tape, so that the only visible sheen is in your design

The reason you place all of this on the outside is so that the inside is nice and smooth for your ink, and you don't risk scraping your vinyl up.

Step 4: Print Your Design

I was very limited on tools during this step. I used a spoon to dribble some ink on the inside top of the screen, and I used a piece of folded cardboard as a squeegee to slide the ink down and flood the screen.

  • Then, I placed the screen on my fabric
  • I added pressure to my squeegee and quickly ran ink through the screen a few times.
  • Then, I slowly removed the screen from my fabric.
  • I let my print dry a bit before I sped up the process with a hairdryer
  • I placed parchment paper over it and pressed down on it with an iron
  • Then, I stuck it in the dryer on high to cure it a little more just in case.

Step 5: Make Your Pocket

I cut my fabric a little more to shape with some excess on each side. I folded the sides and used the iron to make the fold stay.

I used fabric glue to glue the bottom to the sides and to glue the lip on the top to the inside of the pocket.

You'll want the bottom to be glued together, so nothing falls out. But don't glue the top, so that the pocket is loosely open on top.

Step 6: Attach It to the Shirt

I let the glue dry until I was ready to attach the pocket to my shirt. Now would be the perfect time to sew it on, but I don't know how to sew! Instead, I opted for the glue again.

I placed cardboard inside of the shirt I was going to use. I lined up where I wanted the pocket to go.

I placed glue on the bottom of the pocket and attached it to the shirt. Then, I ran glue along the sides. I applied pressure to the pocket, but I kept moving the cardboard so it won't stick together.

I let it dry until it was ready.

Step 7: You're Done!

Finally, I double checked everything to see if it was okay. I washed it inside out to lose the stickiness of the glue that seeped through. Everything stayed together, and it's still holding together well a year later.

Now, you have a customized shirt!