You don't have to have screenprinting equipment to custom print a shirt.
This is a great way to refashion a hand-me-down, thrift store find or a favorite shirt that has a stain on the front.
Make freezer paper stencils in the design of your choice. Iron them down and paint your shirt. Then peel off the paper and heat set the paint. Done!
Step 1: Assemble Your Materials
Materials list: (shown left to right in the photo)
Paper bowl or dish out of the recycle bin.
Stiff (cheap) paint brush.
Fabric Paint. I used Jaquard brand opaque white and black, and bronze metallic.
Scrap of fabric that matches your shirt.
Freezer paper. (It has wax on one side but not on the other. Buy it at the grocery store.)
Your chosen artwork. This can be a printout or a stamp. I used both.
Large scrap of cardboard
Test paint colors on the scrap of fabric from your shirt or a similar fabric. This shirt used to be bigger and I cut down the sides, so there was leftover fabric.
PRINTOUT original: Tape down the freezer paper with the wax side down. Place your printout under the freezer paper and cut out one color of your design. For the swirling clouds on my shirt, I cut the areas I wanted to be black out of a big piece of freezer paper. Remember to work on a surface that is safe to cut on, like a cutting mat or piece of cardboard.
STAMP original: Stamp onto the paper side (non-wax side) of the freezer paper. Cut out area you want to paint. Remember to work on a surface that is safe to cut on, like a cutting mat or piece of cardboard.
On the right of the photo you can see some of the finished flower stencils.
Step 2: Iron on the Stencils and Paint
Think about which color you want to go on first. Whatever goes on first will be on the bottom as you layer on additional colors.
For my shirt, I ironed down the large piece with the swirls and stenciled in the black paint. The design stretches around the side of the shirt--with one swirl on the front and one on the back.
Put the large piece of cardboard inside the shirt for extra support when ironing and painting.
Check the content of the shirt and use that setting on your iron. Test a spot to make sure it is warm enough to stick the freezer paper to the shirt--but not hot enough to scorch the shirt. Iron down the stencil until it is attached all the way around the inside edges of your design.
Put a small blob of paint in your paper bowl and tap the very end of the brush into it. Tap the paint onto the shirt gently. Don't drag the brush across the stencil as it can force paint underneath.
When painting the black, I stenciled around the edges, but was very sparing with the paint. If you put on the paint thickly, it has a tendency to crack later. Plus, I just wanted a more distressed look to the black. If you start with less paint, you can always add more later, but you can't take it off so easily...
Wait for the first color of paint to dry. Then peel off the paper.
Add accents. The flower stencils were added randomly. One color at a time, so first iron on the ones that will be bronze. With the metallic paint, you have to get a solid coat for it to look metallic, so the distressed look didn't work.
When the next color is dry, peel off the paper.
Add more colors and layers until you are happy with it.
Step 3: Heat Set the Paint
Check the paint bottle for instructions on how to heat set your paint. Some paint just has to be put in the dryer. Other paint needs to be ironed.
This was the iron-on type of paint.
Turn the shirt inside out. Iron according to the instructions.
Step 4: Admire
Turn your shirt right-side-out and you're done.