Family Vacation Shirts

They are back! Family vacation shirts are making a comeback, and we went ahead and made our own. Although I did see some pretty cute ones at Zulily. After cracking jokes about matching shirts, my sister-in-law made it a reality. And after some quick “research” a.k.a. Google searches, we came up with a plan.

We used the freezer paper stencil and fabric paint route. My sister-in-law gathered the shirts, I was on fabric paint and stencil duty. White shirts were really the easiest route to go, and then we were wide open for paint choices. Trying to keep with a cool, retro feel to the image, we chose orange for the paint color. I whipped up some (easy) designs for the stencil, chose a favorite, and we were on our way.

Freezer paper stencil, remember to flip the image when you cut!
Freezer paper stencil, remember to flip the image when you cut!

The use of a mini Cricut machine (a craigslist find many moons ago) made the stencil quick work, until I had to pull it off the sticky cutting mat. That was a chore and I may have mumbled some profanities as I did it. It did a nice job cutting, though there were some parts I needed to go over with my exacto, but mostly it was trying not to rip the stencil.

For the fabric paint, I wanted something soft to the touch, in the color we wanted, that would be easy to apply. Which, as I stood there in the store, led me to the Martha Stewart Crafts Tintable Fabric Medium. I could add the acrylic paint color I wanted, mix it up, and apply easily. But please, oh please, do the math better than I did. I had to run out to the store again in the middle of making the shirts because I mixed up the ratios. To a normal math person, the ratio is easily understandable 😉

Now comes the fun part, actually painting the shirt. First, iron on the stencil (glossy side down – did I mention you need to flip the image when you cut?). Make a few solid presses with the iron, making sure edges are down and you’re not missing any little font details. We had several letters (a, b, …) that have the inside dots, we decided to freehand those with the paint rather than iron on each space. We ironed all the stencils on first, then moved to painting.

Never mind my giant head, busy worker bee
Never mind my giant head, busy worker bee

More painting

After mixing your paint, and then running to the store for more paint (just me?), let your inner artist come out and dab with a sponge brush the stenciled areas. Make sure to have a cardboard piece between the shirt layers so nothing goes through. This paint did remarkably well at staying where put, even on the different textured shirts. We had to go back and fill more paint in as it started drying, some of the weaves on the shirt were more thirsty than others and soaked up more paint.

Making room to dry all the shirts wasn't really on our radar. They will need to dry for a good long while, so try to find a spot out of the way.
Making room to dry all the shirts wasn’t really on our radar. They will need to dry for a good long while, so try to find a spot out of the way.

When the shirts are dry, remove stencils, and follow washing directions on the paint bottle. It was so much fun, and I would absolutely do this again!! Due to my mathematical error, I was left with a lot of leftover paint. I’m thinking Halloween shirts are next!

A mix of all 3 of the last names. My husband said we missed the opportunity for an image of two beetles at war. Darn It! He's right.
A mix of all 3 of the last names. My husband said we missed the opportunity for an image of two beetles at war. Darn It! He’s right.
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