Awesome 2 Stencils T Shirts




About: Former Israeli now living in NY. Artist (mostly paintings) my and my husband are currently making art together, he's a photographer and the experience of making pictures in more then one way really appeal...

A couple of weeks ago I got the Texas quoter as change in a restaurant and really liked the cow skull that was on it. I decided to combine this cool tutorialthis cool tutorial and the way I used before to print t shirt to make those cool 2 tone t shirts.

My next instructable would be about creating a 2 tone stencil, but this one's about printing.

Step 1: Materials

What you need to get started:

1. 2 layers stencil - you can buy some designs in a store, or you can make it yourself. I made mine out of Velum cut with a craft knife - it's good material, easy to clean and easy to cut.

2. Spray adhesive - I used Blair 82490Blair 82490 cause it's what I had, but if you are buying this to print t-shirts get one that a little less tacky and isn't permanent.

3. Discharge paste (optional) Discharge paste is bleach in a paste that takes off some of the dye of the fabric, I love printing with it cause it never comes of in the laundry or create a crust on the shirt. However, because it takes dye off, it can only used on non white fabric. If you are printing a white T shirt, you don't need this and can use 2 colors of paint instead.
I use Dharma discharge pasteDharma discharge paste and I'm really happy with it

4. Fabric painting medium - this is basically a glue that make sure that paint stick to fabric. I use Golden GAC 900Golden GAC 900 and I get good results with it.

5. Acrilic paints in colors of your choice

6. a plate or a small container to mix paint in.

7. T shirt (or shirts, dresses, skirts - whatever you want to print on)

8. An iron with a steam option (you will use both steam and non steam option for this.

Step 2: Places Please...

Very Important!!!
Before you print on the shirt, it is very very important to wash them - I skipped this in the past and it sucked! cotton shrink about 3% after the first wash, so if your shirt hasn't been washed before, it'll shrink a bit in the first laundry and they print will look all thick and would be itchy to wear. Also some cloth factories, put some chemical on the shirts to make them stay wrinkle free and that might make the paint not stick properly (I actually don't know if that's true, it never happened to me and might just be an urbal legend) but do wash and dry your shirts before printing on them.

And now we are ready to begin.

Put a sheet of paper or cardboard inside the t-shirt to prevent the back side of the t shirt from staining.

Spray the back side of the stencil with the spray adhesive, you don't need a lot of it, just a little bit to keep the stencil in place, from my experience - the least the better, even a tiny layer all over the stencil is enough.

Place the stencil where you want to print - since the adhesive is not permanent you can remove it and put it on again as many times as you need to place it, the spray say tacky for long enough to play around.

Step 3: Ready - Set - Discharge!

Now the fun begins!

pour some of the discharge paste (it's a little sticky, but not so bad) on a plate and tap the stencil brush in the paste. Tap a few times on the plate to get and even spread on the brush and then tap the paste on the shirt where the stencil is.

This is not like brushing paint - you hold the brush straight and just tap tap tap till the whole area os covered with paste. Get a thick layer on.

At this stage you won't see anything on the shirt, or just see wetness where the paste is (don't worry, it's not supposed to work just yet.

after you are done - take off the stencil and leave to dry completely, depends on the fabric and the weather, this takes about an hour. (it is recommended, but not mandatory to go out for Mexican food at this stage).

After the shirt is dry, you would not see anything on it, the design just seem to disappear (it's still there, don't worry).

Step 4: See Ya

Set the iron on high temperature and high steam as possible - it's more the steam then the heat that makes the image appear on the shirt - in a few shirts I didn't even have to touch the fabric to finish the process - so you let a lot of steam out until you see the image appear.

The discharge paste react differently to different fabrics, cotton t-shirts are usually wonderful for this, but with other fabrics, it doesn't always work as well (or at all) I tried a wool skirt and got a very subtle result. Also, the color of the area that was bleached tend to have different colors on different color shirts, I love the way black discolor to a vague yellow-white, a light blue shirt got perfect white and the Red one got an orange yellow.

Very Very important!!! - I half ruined a shirt that way a few weeks ago. After you finished this and before you go on printing the second layer, you have to wash the shirt to get rid of access discharge paste if you don't do this the next layer of paint will just wash off in the first laundry.

Step 5: Mixin' It

I had a few white T-shirt I found the day before (and one from salvation army) those can't be printed using the discharge paste cause there's no dye to discharge of. So moving to plan B - printing the first layer of the stencil using paint instead of discharge paste.

First of all, you need to mix the paint.

The instruction on the bottle of the fabric medium say to mix the medium and the paint in a 1:1 ratio. I found out that this lead to the paint being too watery and then I don't get lines as crisp as I want them to be, so I 1:2 ration of medium and paint.

Pour them onto the plate and mix together with a stick or the other side of a brush to even consistency - should be the same thickness as honey or cream cheese.

If oyu don't have the exact color you want, you can also mix different colors together with the medium.

Just notice that all the different colors mixed and that there aren't any lumps that would stain your print.

Step 6: No Paint No Gain

Use the same method to place the stencil on the shirt (a light coat of spray adhesive) and then tap the brush into the paint lightly, tap a few times in the plate to get an even thin layer of paint on the brash and then tap the paint on the shirt till the whole area of the stencil is covered.

Make the layer of paint as even and as light as possible, if you are stenciling a dark tshirt with a light color and need better cover then do it 2 or 3 layers of thin paint rather then in one thick layer. When the paint is heavy on the shirt it's less comfortable to wear and doesn't look as good.

After the whole area is covered leave to dry for a couple of minutes and then peal the stencil off, to reveal the design.

Hang to dry (between 20-40 minutes, until dry to touch) you don't have to wash the paint before starting the next layer of paint.

Notice that the acrylic paint usually dry a shade darker then it looks when it's still wet so take that into consideration when choosing and mixing paints.

Step 7: Second Act

I wanted my cow head ot have more detail - the way it looked on the quoter, so in the second later I did the shadings.

Basically, it's the same deal - spray the adhesive on the back side of the stencil and place it on the shirt (it's a little more difficult cause you need to be accurate, it helps a lot of the stencil is see through.

Then mix paint as you did before (1 medium to 2 acrylic paint) and use the stencil brush to tap a thin layer of paint on the shirt where the stencil is. leave to dry for a couple of minutes and peal off the stencil.

If, like me you are working on more then one shirt (I printed 8 of them and one skirt!) then leave the stencil to dry or better yet - wash and dry it between prints - this is good for 2 reasons: if there's wet paint on the stencil it might stick to your shirt and make the print dirty. Also, if you are using a transparent stencil - it's easier to get the registration right if you can see the first layer under the second layer stencil.

Step 8: Iron Fist

Leave the second layer of paint to dry till it's dry to the touch (20-40 minutes) then place a piece of paper on the print and Iron it without using the steam mode for about 30 second to a minute - this will set the paint in and make your print last longer.

Step 9: Ready to Wear

All done!

Your shirt is ready, you can wear it, sell it, give it to friends promote concerts or do whatever you want with it.

It's a great way to make cloth that you are bored with interesting again or just have something cool no one else has.

It might look complicated from the tutorial, but with a bit of practice, it's a fun no hassle project. I printed 9 items it took me about 5 hours with the wait for the shirts to dry and everything, I used this method to make 2 birthday present to people who loved them before.

Good luck!



    • Backyard Contest

      Backyard Contest
    • 1 Hour Challenge

      1 Hour Challenge
    • Fandom Contest

      Fandom Contest

    38 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    i get some card draw my design on put half onto tracing paper remembering to put a point of reffrence in a corner, now draw other half on another piece of card cut out dab with acrylics to achive more of a worn torn effect i use an almost dry paint and smeer across top adding slits and holes


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I don't have photoshop installed on this comp, so this is what I managed to do in (I removed the background, applied gausian blur with a radius of 4, Applied the posterize filter, Changed the contrast/brightness(contrast 100, brightnes 34)

    5 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    that works, but gimp is probably an easier way to photoshop... if you could download onto that computer


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    when i said easier i meant easy to turn out good. and idk about phoenix, is it as big a file as CS3? or about the same as gimp?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    It's actually an online one that runs in your browser (quite good though) and I haven't tried any recent versions of gimp, but it used to have the worst interface ever, you could achieve the same stuff as photoshop but in a much harder way so I don't really know what your talking about there. Paint.NET which is also free however is very easy to use and just makes sense (although it isn't a fully featured but it does have some rather nifty things that not even photoshop has and has support for plugins)


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I just found out another took which is called phoenix it's a photoshop like photo editor and I think I like it better then paint or gimp! it looks a lot like photoshop so for photoshop users it's easy to get used to this free program.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I have shirts that I printed 3 years ago and it still look pretty fresh, so basically, if you wash at cold water, a long time.


    11 years ago on Step 2

    I don't know if that anti-wrinkle thing is true or not, but it seems like it is, especially with the thin-fabric rock and roll band t-shirts that JC Penny sells. I also have a shirt that I swear is scotchgarded or something. I've never been able to permanently stain it. I don't know if anybody else has ever had thi happen. So anyway, make sure you don't have one of those shirts, too.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    In regard to the Discharge Paste, would bleach be a reasonable substitute or will that have an adverse affect?

    5 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    My husband wears the T-shirt we printed all the time, one of them is about 6 months old and so far - they help up pretty well. I'll have to see what happen in time.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    You have to be careful with bleach. If you use it straight it can damage the fabric. If not immediately, it will, over time, cause the fabric to disintegrate...unless you're after that kind of look.


    I've heard that discharge paste will have a similar damaging effect over time unless you use a neutralizing medium (that is also sold by Dharma?)... Does anyone know if this is necessary or has the discharge paste never caused anyone problems eating through fabric?


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    A friend of mine tired to bleach a whole Karate Suit once, he soaked it in bleach for a couple of hours - when he took it out of the bucket it just disintegrated in his hand! The t-shirt I printed were mostly reused ones - 2 were from salvation army and 4 were left in the hallway by someone who didn't want them anymore. I guess I can risk pure bleach in moderation for those. However the discharge paste is pretty cheap and so much fun to work with.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    As a rule - it will work, however, bleach is very watery and thin, it will be impossible to stencil a thick enough layer without the bleach bleeding under and giving you really messy result. I've read about someone mixing bleach with corn starch to thicken it, but I haven't tried it myself. If you give it a shot, let me know how it went. I did tried just dipping a paint brush in the discharge paste and painting the fabric with it and that also worked well (it's a really fast way to make a t shirt if you don't feel like cutting a stencil.