Intro: Easy Method for Custom T-Shirts
My buddy, JB, is celebrating his 40th birthday party. The JB4.0 Mashdown promises to be the mega-party of 2011 that will ring throughout the halls of party legend for generations. I have 2 small problems: 1) what to wear and 2) what to gift.
My Armani tuxedo is at the tailor and nevertheless is entirely inappropriate for the occasion. Furthermore, JB is a man who takes what he wants and is the man who has everything. I will need to create something special to solve this problem.
My solution is to create a customized t-shirt to capture the milieu of JB4.0 and to serve as a lasting souvenir of the event. There are many great instructables for screenprinting, but these involve frames, photosensitive and emulsion chemistries, squeegees, special inks or tediously cut stencils.
Luckily, over the years, I have developed a simple technique to one-off a great looking t-shirt whenever inspiration strikes. I now share my method with the fine instructables community…
Step 1: Get the Stuff
1. Plain T-shirt ($3 to $20USD)
2. Sharpie brand fine point permanent marker ($4USD) (I suppose other permanent blank markers will work, but it doesn't get an better than Sharpie)
The following items are optional
1. Tracing box (based on this instructable )
a. Two Push-on Lights ($4USD/each)
b. Clear storage container ($6USD)
2. Masking tape ($4USD)
3. Graphics software like Photoshop (priceless)
Step 2: Prepare the Design
The first step is to decide the design for the t-shirt. You should choose or create a simple design. Markers on t-shirt does not allow for high-resolution images.
I decided to create a custom icon for the party based on a pic of JB I pulled off the Facebooks. There are several good instructables to describe detailed how-to (Like this one and this one ), so I will only briefly describe the image prep.
Here’s the fast guide to what I did: Select a photo > Remove the background > Convert to Black and White > Adjust Threshold > Cleanup the rough spots > Add the finishing touches
Step 3: Tracing the Outline
Now here is the fun step. I printed my graphic on a sheet of paper and taped it to my tracing box. Then I layed the t-shirt on top of the tracing box. Then I started start tracing the outline of the design.
• Use masking tape to hold the shirt in position.
• I like to make a dotted outline of the design. If you try to draw the lines, you may pull the shirt material and distort the drawing.
• My tracing box is based on an easy setup described here .
• If you do not have a tracing box, then you can just as easily tape your image and shirt to an outside window. On a sunny day, you can easily see the design through lighter colored shirts for tracing
• In a pinch, I have even stretched a t-shirt around my computer monitor and traced directly from the screen. If you try this, then first cover your monitor in plastic wrap otherwise there can be marker bleed-though to stain your monitor screen.
Step 4: Fill in the Blanks: AWES_ME!
Now we just need to fill-in the outlined design. I find this step is easier with backlight turned off. For this design, I was able to make 3 t-shirts using only a single Sharpie marker.
Step 5: Finishing
If you like, you can throw on your new shirt and go party, but you will smell like you’ve been huffing paint all day. And and you risk smudging your design.
For best results…
1. Lay your shirts flat for at least 2 hours to let the ink thoroughly dry
2. Wash the shirt in cold water
3. Air dry
Step 6: Final Thoughts
JB loved the t-shirt and I even got a few orders to make some more.
I have used this method for a while and the t-shirts that I made years ago still look great. Please see some pics attached.
• Go forth to make your own rad shirts and share some photos
• Share questions and constructive criticism (this is my first instructable)