Make a Stenciled Shirt With Duct Tape.

If you're one of us special people who like to use duct tape for all the problems that come up in life or just don't have freezer paper (because for example you're poor, european, or both), this instructable will show you how to make your very own stenciled shirt with the help of duct tape.

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Step 1: Materials & Tools.

For this project, you'll need:

1) duct tape
2) acrylic paint
3) paintbrush
4) a sheet of paper
5) cutter knife
6) pencil
7) shirt

For this particular design that I chose you'll need all of the above and:

8) soft spot for the 80s
9) a coin

Step 2: Shirt & Design.

As shirt I chose a simple white singlet, but I recommend using smooth textiles that aren't necessarily fine rib. First of all, you'll need to think of a design. Preferably something with straight lines, easy to reconstruct with duct tape. The simpler, the better. You can find some black/white stencils at
I chose a simple 3,5" computer disk, like I'm so cool.

Step 3: Stencil & Islands.

Now recreate the design with the duct tape. Stick it onto the shirt and remember that the coloured parts need to be the uncovered parts of the shirt as you're going to paint over the duct tape stencil later on.

For the difficult parts (for example letters), draw them onto a pad with a pencil, so that you can stick a piece of duct tape over it and cut it out with your cutter knife (in case your duct tape isn't see-through, lay some duct tape out and draw directly on it!) If you don't have a cutter knife, a razorblade will do. If you're emo like me, you have plenty of them.

Step 4: Paint.

When you finished putting the stencil with all its islands on the shirt, you can start painting over it. Again, get yourself an underlay and put it under the top layer of the shirt, for you don't want the back of the shirt to get soiled. An old cardboard will do. Now steal some acrylic paint from your sister's art supply and pretend to be Andy Warhol.

Scarcely put one layer of paint on it if you want it to look real oldschool. Two or more layers of paint will make your design look more even, but it'll get pretty thick when dry and rather disadventageous to wear.

Step 5: Wait & See.

Once you're done with the paint, let it dry over night.
When it's dry, you can softly rip the duct tape off. Patience is the word. At first it will look like there are duct tape remains, but they are really just small lines that will disappear soon.

You can wash the shirt either gently by hand or toss it in the machine if it has a program for fine clothing.

My next instructable will be about how to end the war in Iraq. It's probably going to be filed under "not liable".



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    15 Discussions

    hmm...i suppose you could, but you would have to cover large parts of the shirt to avoid sprinkling. and well, spray paint tends to bleed so i suggest you better not. but really, the duct tape method always kinda allows for the paint to bleed through. good luck...


    10 years ago on Step 5

    I really like it. Anything green, but not obscene.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Can this be cleaned in a washing machine? Or, is it necessary to wash the shirt in the sink with Woolite, etc.?

    1 reply

    In the long run, it'd be best to wash it in a program for delicates or handwash (usually 30°C or cold) if your washing machine has that program. That way, your shirt will last forever. Otherwise you can still wash it now and then in a normal program because acrylic colors are pretty resistant. And if the design was to wear down someday, it'd come off in pieces anyway and wouldn't stain the other clothes.


    I really like this idea. I've used a lot of stuff to stencil shirts, but haven't tried this exact method. Just a thought about painting it: I also use acryilic paint (it's cheap, available in every color, quickly dries, and easily cleans up). I started using the foam brushes because they were about 1/2 the price of a lot of art brushes. I still mainly use them because I've had better results, and havne't had the problems with brushstrokes, etc that I've had with bristle brushes. I agree with most the comments, though, great instructable, and SWEET design!

    yes, it's packaging tape. didn't realize it's not called duct tape as well. i have yet to try it with other tape for, as you mentioned, it has to be soft enough to not rip the fabric when pulling it off, yet it's got to be adhesive enough to avoid any leakage of the acrylic paint. permanent markers is a good idea too. Cheers!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Is it Duct tape or Package tape? I think duct tape (usually silver) would be a bit gummier and harder to use. This looks more like brown package tape from the pics... Good instructable though!

    2 replies

    12 years ago on Step 4

    I would think you could also use permanent ink felttip markers, too. they make some of those with tips up to an inch wide. Lots of colors to choose from, too. Cool idea.