Shibori Painting a T-Shirt

Introduction: Shibori Painting a T-Shirt

About: I am an artist and clothing designer with a passion for helping others bring their own creative dreams to life.

I've done an Instructable before on using bleach to create this effect (click here to view it), but the process is different if you're using paint. One great thing about using paint instead of bleach, is that the finished product is a lot more predictable! Bleach can leave behind some surprising results, like turning navy blue into orange. It's easier to see what you're going to get by picking out a color of shirt and a color of paint that you like.

You'll want to start with a white or light-colored shirt and darker-colored fabric paint. It's much easier to use dark paint to cover up a light fabric, than to use light paint to cover a dark fabric. Also, avoid any fabric paints that have glitter in them. The glitter will clog your spray bottle! You can use only one color, like I have done, or let the first color dry and start the whole process all over again to add a second or even third color to your shirt.

Also, you might be thinking, "Hey! I'll just get a can of spray paint from the hardware store!" Well... you can, but the shirt will stiffen everywhere the paint touches it. It won't be nearly as pleasant to wear, as it will if you get paint that's made specifically for fabric. Most craft stores have it, and it's not expensive. So, I'd recommend that you spring for the good stuff!

Step 1: Gather Materials

You'll need a few things before you get started:

A light-colored or white t-shirt
Fabric paint that complements your shirt's color
A spray bottle that sprays a fine mist
A glass marble
A bucket, pipe, or pot that is about as big around as your shirt's collar (Be warned; you will get paint on it!)
String, yarn, or heavy thread

The shirt I chose was kind of a dull yellowish-green. I wanted to liven it up with some brighter green tiger stripes.

Step 2: Mix Paint With Water

Squirt about 4 teaspoons (20 ml) of fabric paint in your spray bottle. I used roughly one teaspoon of Neon Yellow, and three teaspoons of Leaf Green. Now add about half a cup (118 ml) of water, and drop the marble in. Screw on the top, and shake it good! You can adjust the color at this point, if you'd like, by adding more paint or water. But keep in mind that the paint will look a little darker in the bottle than it will on your shirt.

Step 3: Wrap the Shirt

Place the shirt around the bucket, as though the bucket is wearing your shirt. Tie the string tightly around the hem of the shirt to hold it in place. I usually start with the hem of the shirt at the top of the bucket to get started, and then flip the whole bucket over after I'm partway done. This gives me more room to work without the table getting in my way.

Start wrapping the string in a spiral fashion up the shirt, leaving an inch or two between the wraps. The wider apart your wraps are, the thicker your stripes will be. The closer together your wraps are, the thinner your stripes will be.

When you run out of room to wrap the string, slide the part you've already wrapped down the bucket (towards the hem), and then keep wrapping. The shirt will wrinkle and the wraps will overlap each other, but that's how you want it to look.

When you get to the sleeves, just try to flatten them out as best you can. Keep wrapping the string and sliding the wrapped portion of the shirt down until you have no more shirt left to wrap. Tie the string off to hold everything in place.

The wrinkles should be fairly even, but don't stress out about trying to make it perfect. It'll look great when you're done!

Step 4: Paint It!

Grab your bucket and spray bottle, and head outside. Or, you can put the whole bucket down inside a very large cardboard box to spray it. Just don't get paint on anything that you don't want painted!

Spray the shirt evenly, all the way around. Every part that you can see should be the color of the paint, when you're finished.

Step 5: Let It Dry, Then Untie

Let the paint dry completely, then carefully cut the strings and untie the shirt. Follow the directions on the paint bottle that will tell you how to launder your shirt. Then model it around town!

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