Turn Your Old Shirt Into a Rad New Creation




Today I will show YOU how to turn an old shirt into a crazy new hyped up rad piece of ART and in plus you get to show off you work by wearing it!

This is the current technique used by Monkey Business, a small home based compagnie that makes custom shirts and other cool stuff.

They use this technique because it is the simplest way to transmit you art onto fabric.

If you want to see more shirts made by MB, head on over to they're website!

Step 1: Your Image

The fist thing you need is a good image. start off with a nice an simple design (my first was a cloud...). It doesnt have to complicated to be beautiful.

it can be a color image... just turn it black and white, mess around with the contrast a bit until you're happy with it, then print it out on acetate paper (clear plastic paper used for projectors)

In this particular stencil, i wanted it to be big, so i put it on two pages, if your doing a multiple page stencil, make sure you have abit of over lappping room, so that your not lost when positionning the second (or third...) stencil.

Step 2: Cut That Thing OUT!

When your cutting out your stencil, make sure you take your time and make it worth your time. Allways pre plan you bridges (connecters between “islands” and “mainland”). If you rush the job, it will be messy, you will probably cut a bridge or something worst.

Play some music, turn on a TV in the background (dont watch it... watch what your cutting) or turn on the radio. this make your cutting more enjoyable and make time fly by.

Use an Exacto knife, it is the ideal thing to use. but if no exacto knives are near by, and you NEED to cut it out, i guess a VERY sharp knife will do. By the way, an exacto knife costs about 2$, its well worth the money.

Get a cutting board. you do not want to cut yourself or you table... that would be a bad thing to do.

LIGHT!! make sure you are in a well light area so you can see what you are doing. and wear you glasses if you have any, cutting out stencils is tough on you eyes after a while.

its better to cut too little than too big, you can allways make an area larger, but not smaller. what is cut is cut.

Step 3: Before the Paint

Before you take out the brush and paint, take a deep breath. there are some essential steps to do before the moment of truth.

Find shirt. im sure you allready found one, but if you did not, go find one RIGHT NOW!

Good, now iron the shirt. The iron not only flattens the shirt out to make it easier to work with, but it heats up the cloth, and loosens the material up, making it absorb more paint.

Put a piece of cardboard or wood in the shirt. You do not want paint to "break on through to the other side" (DOORS!).

Get some spray on glue, this is not 100% necessairy, but nearly anialates any chance of making mistakes, so if your a nervous one as i am, get the stuff.

place the stencil on the shirt, put some tape around the perimiter of the stencil to avoid heart breaking stains.

Also Make sure to cover your working space in newspaper or garbage bags, to protect them for paint spills.

Step 4: Paint!

Now is the fun bit of the transformation, get out you paint, and mix them untill you find your desired color.

Be sure not to make too complicated mixes because you will need more... and if the colors dont look the same then your shirt looks clumbsy.

I use acrylic paint mixed with Textile Medium, it stays in fine and does not wash out... but if you want to spend a few extra bucks, get the fabric paint. its basically the same thing, your just paying more.

Normally i use a Stecil brush but for this particular shirt, i used my trusty sponge, i find sponges to suck up alot of the paint, but they give a nice even coat.

Do NOT use a wet paintbrush of sponge, the wetness will leak throught the stencil and spread the paint. Trust me i know from experience. So when changing paints, be sure to COMPLEATLY dry your weapon of choice.

Start painting, up and down motions, NOT side to side, if you do side to side, your risking to lift up the edge of the stencil and painting under it...

when your 100% sure that you did not miss a spot, you are now ready for the moment of truth...

Step 5: The Moment of Truth

Gently peel off the stencil, making sure your not ripping it (to use it agin later)

Admire your work, take a quick break, then repeat steps 3 to 5 untill compleat satisfaction.

That is how you stencil on a shirt.

The most important thing to remember is that YOU are the artist, not me. So take risks, learn from your mistakes and have fun with your stencilling.

To tell you the truth, i messed up alot of shirts when i started out, but i used the mistakes to make the shirt look even better.

If you stain your shirt, dont worry, make your shirt a "grungy" shirt, it will make it look more original.

The rest of the picutres are a few shirts ive made in the past...

Thanks for reading my Instructable, If you have ANY question or comment please comment below.


T-Shirt Hacks

First Prize in the
T-Shirt Hacks



    • Fat Challenge

      Fat Challenge
    • Pie Contest

      Pie Contest
    • Jewelry Challenge

      Jewelry Challenge

    43 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    i wanna know where i can buy plain ts with color.like hhis its plain at first but has a fye color to it.anyone know.in us where i can find sum


    8 years ago on Step 5

    BANKSY is my favorite artist!
    Now I have a second favorite........ YOU!
    Have you ever tried doing this on pants? After reading your instructable, I was stoked that my brain actually absorbed all the information properly and I diy'ddd some gnar-gnar shirts-even the ones I made mistakes on turned out gnarly- then I thought that it might be cool to stencil up some banksy+you (yes, you!) inspired jeans and (drumroll....)
    They turned out pretty friggin rad.
    THANK YOU ThAnK yoU THanK yOu!

    1 reply
    LuukeLance Mt.

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    i havent done a tetris one since the original one i did... but for the primers, i would first of all not recommend a black shirt :P if you are going to go black shirt. i would go an easy coat of white where all your blocks will be. let it dry, then go for the full colorful paints after.


    I just thought that primer would be like a lighter color then the base color. Like you would use white paint on top of a black shirt.


    9 years ago on Step 3

    yea, sorry.

    well use the spray glue on the stencil before you place it on the shirt, that way your sure that the stencil wont move and leak everywhere. (be easy one the glue, you dont want it to stay there for ever. also let it dry for a couple minutes before)

    i use acrylic paint, mixed with a textile medium.


    9 years ago on Step 3

    What is the SprayGlue for? You say to buy it, but don't mention at all what to do with it??


    Darn, I wish I had thought of mixing acrylic paint with textile medium, but I had to go and buy expensive fabric paint instead. >.<  What color textile medium do you recommend?

    Thank you so, so much for this. I'm definitely going to try it soon. And I love your art so much.


    9 years ago on Step 5

    You are a freakin artist man!  Love it all!


    9 years ago on Step 5

    can you make me a shirt plz,..my email is tarryn500@yahoo.com, email about price, or anything!
    : )

    Justin Lam

    9 years ago on Introduction

    I love it! Especially the raining men on the purple tee. Very nice. Where'd you get your paint?


    9 years ago on Step 3

    what so u use the spray for? and wat paint do u use?


    11 years ago on Introduction

    when I tried using acrylic with textile medium the fabric really wouldn't take the paint- do you get it to work alright on dark shirts (i see you have a black shirt but is that the same paint)? and I'm assuming you put the spray adhesive on the stencil? does that make the shirt tacky? do you use a more back and forth painting or stipple (sp?) method of applying the paint? sorry to ask so many questions but i really want to try this and have it work since i've had trouble with it in the past

    3 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Hey indiegoober, dont put too muc textile medium... just like a 1 part text med for 4 parts paint... if you look at the picture you'll see that i use just a couple drops of text med... On the Tetris shirt, i used up ALOT of paint... i wouldn't recommend doing what i did... after that shirt, i realised that i should of used a primer (white or smthn first... then paint on top of that to use less paint and more intense colors) but i didnt use different paint... Be sure not to put TOO much spray...and to let it dry a bit (2-3 mins) when sometimes there is alot of spray glue, there is a little residue, but it goes away after a wash... or most of the time after i iron the shirt... that happens rarly... but there is no worries (at least i have never had any glue problems... DO NOT GOT BACK AND FORTH!!! u could lift the stencil accidentally and paint under it... i go up and down (pushing a button motion...) sometimes i might use the back an forth motion for big areas... No problem, i really dont mind answering your questions :) if u gots anymore... dont hesitate to ask


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    hey wat kinda paint did you use was it acrillic ( how ever you say it) and ahh when you get your picture/design do u paste it onto microsoft word (lol im just new to instructables and dont know much :P ) btw nice 'ible


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Hi sunshine.1111, thanks for your awesome instructable!! I'm entirely new to this, and am thinking of starting! These custom-made shirts can be great gifts to people :D Just a question, sorry if it seems silly: the spray on glue that u used... what's its purpose? is it to stick on the paint? or is it to adhere the stencil to the shirt temporarily. Thanks! am really excited to try this out.