Introduction: Spray Paint a T-Shirt Using a Pumpkin Carving Pattern

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My children have gotten many shirts stained with various liquids, primarily from something I cannot (or choose not to) remove.  However, I confess that I keep the shirts because I know that they will grow out of them quickly and recently discovered a way to up-cycle them.

I had several sites to thank for the inspiration of this, and for all the gathered tips and bits of info included in this tutorial.
My initial interest came from Pinterest, where my friends were posting spray painted shirts from websites that did not have the best tutorials.  (Who can beat instructable tutorials right?)
The stencil idea came from here: How to Make a DIY Spray Paint T-Shirt
Many of the tips you see in this instructable came from a 10-minute video on this instructable: How to Spray Paint a T-Shirt!
Read on to see what I did and how I did it.

Materials and Tools:
- T-Shirt – If it’s new, WASH IT.  I used already older or pre-stained ones as you may be able to see in the photos.
- Pumpkin Carving Stencil printed on paper.  I had to shrink and enlarge mine to fit on the t-shirts I used.  The stencils I used were as follows: - Xacto knife or box cutter
- Self-healing mat or piece of flat cardboard to “carve” stencil on using box cutter & protect work space
- Painters Tape (what I used an would prefer as it doesn’t leave a residue) or Masking Tape
- Latex-based Spray Paint in color (or colors) of your choice
- Scotch tape
- Thin cardboard to cut the stencil out on – I suggest cereal box thickness, but I also used the insert from a 24-pack of soda.  The actual stencil needs to be cardboard, not paper.
- Thick cardboard to place inside shirt
- Newspapers or other covering to protect your spray paint work space
- Waxed Paper (what I used) or Parchment (Baking) Paper
And finally - About five to six (5-6) hours of your time, depending on your pumpkin stencil design

Steps to Create your “New” T-Shirt:
Tape the printed stencil onto the thinner cardboard.

Cut out the areas of the stencil that are going to have the spray paint go through onto the t-shirt, using the xacto knife or box cutter.
Total side note:My xacto knife broke in the middle of the first stencil, but I was able to use the box cutter. 
If you have not cut out pumpkin stencils before, my best advice is start with the small detailed areas first, and then cut out the larger or longer, straighter pieces.
Cutting out the stencil for the use on the shirt is extremely similar to cutting it for a pumpkin.  Instead of using a knife, you would use the box cutter.  If you are a newbie at cutting stencils, use a nail or pumpkin poking-tool as described in a few instructables to mark the location of the lines.
Of course, Instructables has some great resources for advice for cutting pumpkins that are applicable for cutting the stencil on cardboard.  A couple I found that could be useful are: Place a piece of cardboard inside the (pre-washed) shirt, so the paint will not bleed through.

Tape the stencil down on the shirt using the painters tape.

Tape down a generous amount of waxed paper (or parchment paper) over the shirt and around the stencil so that it does not get the random spray marks on. 
I wrapped the waxed paper around the shirt like a present, as I was spraying outside and it was a windy day.

Prepare the spray paint by shaking the can for about a minute (really) to help prevent drips.
From about 10-inches away from the pattern, spray the first coat of paint onto the stencil and shirt.  Spray in an even back-and-forth motion across the stencil area.
Let dry at least an hour.

Spray the second coat of paint (or a second color if you choose) on the stencil and let dry for another hour or overnight if you are satisfied with the coverage.

I sprayed the stencil with a third coat of spray paint after an hour and let dry overnight.

Gently peel all of the paper, tape and the stencil off of the shirt.

Turn the shirt inside out.

Wash the t-shirt BY ITSELF on the delicate cycle of your washing machine with about a tablespoon of detergent (I use the powder kind).

Dry the t-shirt either by line drying or in the dryer, on delicate again, by itself and with a dryer sheet.

My oldest son’s Boba Fett t-shirt was dried on heat with other clothes.  Thankfully, the other clothes did not get paint or color on them.  The design stuck itself (supposedly because of the heat of the dryer) to a separate part of the shirt.  My son still loved it and we plan on leaving the shirt the way it is.

I saved the stencils and plan on making something with them next…. ;)

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