Introduction: Summery Neon Stripe Shirt Upcycle

About: I'm a bit of a crazy cat lady with a penchant for red wine, travel, and making something from nothing. I blog at Shrimp Salad Circus, where I cover everything from an extensive library of DIY tutorials to tech…

I'm not typically one to jump on a trend, but I just so happened to have four little bottles of neon paint, and one thing just led to another... I'll pretend that every single one of you does love to follow trends, so guess what?! I've just made your day. And your spring/summer wardrobe. You're about to take your most boring, bored, tired shirt and turn it into a fun, springy new addition to your clothing lineup.

For more fashion and home DIY ideas, visit my blog at Shrimp Salad Circus.

- Lindsay

Step 1: Materials

  • shirt
  • neon acrylic paint
  • acrylic paint fabric additive
  • coarse bristled paintbrush
  • thin masking tape
  • heavy cardboard

Step 2: Mount Shirt

Start with a laundered shirt - dried, too, if you're usually going to dry it after washing. Decide where you want your stripes to be, and then center that spot over your piece of cardboard. Pull the rest of the shirt tight around the back of the cardboard, and then tape it in several places at the top and bottom to secure it.

Step 3: Count Your Stripes

Figure out how many stripes you want. I have four colors of paint, so I'm doing four stripes. You need twice as many pieces of tapes as stripes, plus one. So, for four stripes, I need nine strips of tape (4 x 2 + 1 = 9). If I were doing three stripes, I'd need seven pieces of tape (3 x 2 + 1). Tear your strips of tape at random lengths, and lay them against each other with the edges barely touching.

Step 4: Line 'Em Up

Peel away every other piece of tape, starting with the second piece. You should be left with as many "blank" spaces as you'll have stripes. Using the tape strips helps to make sure that your stripes are all the same width.

Step 5: Paint It (& Paint It, & Paint It)

Mix your fabric additive into the neon paint as instructed on the bottle. Then, using a brush with stiff, coarse bristles, soak your paint into each stripe. Vary the heights of your stripes for a handmade, artistic effect. After you've painted all your stripes, leave it for awhile to dry.

Add a second coat of paint after the first has dried. I only painted the second coat about 3/4 of the way up to be sure that the top has a nice hand-brushed effect with a bit of transparency. For this black shirt with heavy fabric, I ended up using three coats of paint. On a light cotton or a white shirt, you'll probably only need two.

Step 6: Peel It

Let your paint dry thoroughly. All the way. Seriously - don't peel the tape up early. When it looks dry - no longer shiny at all, you can peel the tape up. Peel it back parallel with the fabric, not straight up, to avoid stretching.

Step 7: Finish It

If, unlike me, your stripes turned out perfectly, then woohoo - you're done! If they have some runny edges in places, then it's time to bust out your Sharpie. Just draw over the rough edges, and you'll have a nice, crisp, clean line. Or lines. Lots of lines.

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