How to Decorate T-Shirts With Fabric Paint: 2 Easy Ways

Tired of the old and bland design that your t-shirts have? Want something that is full of bright colors? Do not throw them just yet! You can bring them back to life and certainly turn them into something unique and creative.

How to Decorate T-Shirts With Fabric Paint

Even we had loads of old t-shirts that were not seeing any use. Also, we had a reasonable amount of time during the boring summer days. So, we learned how to paint t-shirts with fabric paint. And now, the old Ts see more use than the new T-shirts that are in our closet.

However, not all people know the process correctly. That is why I have decided to go through the steps in this article. So, if you want to get a grasp of the whole process, read till the very end.

How to Decorate T-Shirts With Fabric Paint at Home: 2 Different Ways

Method of DIY Painting at T Shirts with Fabric Paint

Just like any other painting project, there are two different methods that you can go through for decorating an old T-shirt with fabric paint. I’m going to go through all of the methods. So, let us get started, shall we?

Method 1: Use Paintbrushes to Paint on A T Shirt

Not all of us have advanced tools for painting. Neither did we have them in the first place. For that reason, I would like to start with the most basic method of decorating the t-shirts, which is with paintbrushes. And the steps that you would need to follow for this method are as follows:

Step 1: Wash the T-shirt

The first thing that you would need to do is wash the T-shirt. It will remove any of the potential stiffener or starch that is inside the fabric. Even if your T-shirt states that it is “pre-shrunk,” you should still wash it. The paint might not correctly stick to the surface if you carry out the project without washing it.

Step 2: Set Up the Working Space

Next, you would need to set up the workspace. Get some newspaper on the table. And get anything that is on the way. Remember, the paint can spread around and ruin the table if you do not place newspaper.

It would also be a good idea to get a cup of water and paper towels. Those will come in handy for blotting and rinsing the paintbrush.

Step 3: Insert a Piece of Cardboard

After you have set up the workspace, get yourself cardboard. It needs to have the same size as the shirt. If it is too large, take the measurement for the shirt and cut the cardboard according to size. The main goal is to slip it inside without stretching the T-shirt. And this board will prevent the paint from bleeding onto the backside.

Now, if you do not have a piece of cardboard lying around, you can use a newspaper or an old magazine for this. Fold the magazine or the newspaper according to the size of the T-shirt and slip it inside. Make sure that the folds are thick enough to stop the paint from bleeding to the other side.

Step 4: Paint the T-Shirt

Once all of the steps mentioned above are taken care of, it would be time to work with paint. If you are a bit nervous about free-handing the design, I recommend practicing it on paper before working on the t-shirt.

Also, you can make a markup of the design by using a marker. Use it to outline the design and then fill it in with paint. If your design is a bit complex or requires multiple layers of color, you should start with the background color first. Let the first coat dry to the bone and then work on the other layers.

Additionally, it would be a good idea to use paintbrushes that are meant for fabric paint. Those will usually have stiff bristles, which will make the painting a whole load easier. Also, you should avoid natural brushes, for example, camel hair. Those will have soft bristles, which will not be able to hold the thick paints properly.

Step 5: Let the Paint Dry

After you are done painting the front of the t-shirt, you need to let the whole thing dry before using the t-shirt. If you would like to speed up the drying process, try blowing the entire thing with a hairdryer.  Leave the cardboard or foldings of paper inside during the whole drying process.

Once the paint dries, you can flip the T-shirt around and paint the backside if you want to. Keep the cardboard or foldings of papers inside during this process as well. And follow the same procedure as you did for the front part of the shirt.

When the paints are dried, it would be time to remove the cardboard or foldings of paper. If you find the paints sticking to the cardboard, do not panic. Simply wedge fingers between the cardboard and the shirt and try to pry it apart. Be gentle while prying, or else you might cause damage to the paint and the fabric.

Read Next: How to get fabric paint out of clothes

Method 2: Using Stencils for Painting T-shirt

Stencils can make the whole design look perfect. So, if you are not at all confident with your free-handing, it would be a good idea to use stencils. And the steps that you would need to follow for this method are:

Step 1: Prepare the T-shirt

First and foremost, you would need to prepare the t-shirt. And for this, follow the first three steps of the paintbrush method. That means you would need to wash the shirt, set up the workspace, and place cardboard or foldings of paper inside the shirt.

Step 2: Position the Stencil

Once the shirt and the workspace are ready, it would be time to position the stencil. For this, you can use regular stencils or the dedicated fabric painting stencils. It would also be possible to make your own stencil. You would just need a thin plastic, cardstock, or freezer paper.

In fact, it is also possible to carry out the project using painter’s tape. You can create geometric shapes by placing the tape correctly. However, no matter what you are using, ensure that it is lying flat against the shirt’s surface, or else there will be bleeding under the edges, which will ruin the overall design.

Step 3: Paint the shirt

Squirt some of the paint on top of a paper plate and get yourself a foam brush or a mini paint roller. Dab the foam brush or roller with the paint and apply it on top of the stencil. Keep on dabbing and tapping on the stencil until the design looks exactly how you want it to look.

On that note, it would be wise to follow the inwards application method, which goes from the edges of the stencil to the middle. This will prevent the paint from leaking under the stencil.

Once you are done with the painting, remove the stencil and let the paint dry. Once it is dried, press a medium-hot iron on the design. That will make the color lasts longer and does not get scraped off that easily. Remove the cardboard from the inside and try your newly designed shirt on!

Final Words

Now that you know how to paint T shirts with fabric paint, there will be no need to throw away the plain old shirts anymore. Just choose one of the methods and follow the steps properly. You should end up with good-looking, fun, and creatively designed shirts in no time.

Hi, I'm Robert Jameson. I'm a textile engineer. As a textile engineer, I design & create fabric. When I'm not busy with my family members, I research, write, and edit content for Fabric Fits.

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