EASY DIY T-SHIRT PAINTING IDEAS
Do you get bored of basic, one-color T-shirts? I sure do! So, I’ve decided to transform a few shirts. In this post, I will show you three simple methods on how to paint your own Tees.
It’s cheap, super simple, and so much fun to make handpainted T-shirts! You can add almost any design! Grab a shirt, some paint, and let’s get started!
Read until the end to find out what paint is best for fabrics and other helpful hacks to get the best result.
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How can you paint your T-shirt at home?
You can paint your T-shirt with several easy methods like stenciling, stamping, drawing with fabric markers, tie-dye, bleaching, or ombre painting. Some don’t even require any drawing or painting skills.
I chose three simple ways to add specific designs to a shirt, so I didn’t include all of the methods mentioned above. For best results, read the tips and hacks section after the T-shirt painting tutorials.
Easy T-shirt painting ideas
1. Stenciled Mandala Tee
This DIY T-shirt painting idea is super simple and ready in a couple of minutes. You’ll need only a few tools and supplies. I used my handmade mandala stencil.
If you like the design or want to know how to make a mandala stencil read my article about how to do it easily without any special tool (it comes with four free printable mandala stencil designs).
Tools and Supplies:
- stencil brush or sponge brush (I used a regular kitchen sponge),
- fabric paint (thicker),
- masking tape,
STEP 1: Secure the stencil on the T-shirt. For a crisp design, the mandala stencil has to stay secure, so I’ve taped all four edges.
STEP 2: Put some fabric paint on the plate and daub your tool. Make sure that you don’t over-saturate the sponge. (Too much paint will bleed through and ruin the pattern). Make a test on a piece of paper. The paint marks should be almost dry.
STEP 3: Start painting. Press down the stencil, with your fingers, near the painted area so the stencil won’t move.
STEP 4: Press the sponge to the stencil in an up and down motion, never add colors as you would paint with a brush.
STEP 5: When all your design is colored, wait a couple of minutes so the fabric can seep in the paint. Add another layer if needed.
STEP 6: Remove the stencil and let it dry for a couple of hours.
STEP 7: Turn the T-shirt inside out and iron it to set the paint.
2. Fabric marker dragonfly T-shirt
This T-shirt hack doesn’t require a lot of explanation. Find a design you like, grab a fabric paint pen in one or multiple colors, and draw it on the Tee. You can free-draw anything or find a design you want and transfer it to the shirt. (in the tips and hacks section you can learn more about image transferring to fabric).
I’ve made a twist on this method to make the results more interesting.
Tools and Supplies:
- fabric markers,
- a piece of cardboard.
STEP 1: Insert a piece of cardboard under your design.
STEP 2: Outline the dragonfly with a regular pencil. A used two templates for the wings.
STEP 3: Use the fabric pen to add color to the wings.
STEP 4: Wet the wings with the brush, and watch how the colors seep and create a watercolor effect.
STEP 5: Leave it to dry.
STEP 6: Trace the outline with a black fabric marker and add further details.
STEP 7: Turn the design inside out and iron the T-shirt to make it washable.
3. Stamped T-shirt
One of the fastest ways to add a unique pattern to a shirt is stamping. You don’t need to buy stamps, make your own from foam sheets, vine corks, sponges, or a potato. You can also use store-bought stamps or use a leaf for an organic look.
Tools and Supplies:
- fabric paint,
STEP 1: Cut two teardrop shapes from your sponge.
STEP 2: Add the fabric paint to the plate. Thin it up with water, then mix them. I aimed for a swirly, ombre look.
STEP 3: Insert the cardboard.
STEP 4: Create the design. Load the smaller teardrop sponge with paint and stamp at the neckline. Grab the bigger stamp and add a second row. (I used the smaller stamp at the shoulders because there wasn’t enough room).
STEP 5: Leave it to dry. Set the paint with the iron.
It’s you want to create other stamped T-shirts check out this beautiful wall hanging by Delineate your Dwelling. She created the stamps using foam sheets. I love the floral design, I’ll make something similar in the future for sure!
Tips and Hacks for hand-painted T-shirts:
How to prepare your Tees for painting
Cotton and other natural linens are the easiest to paint. Although, you can experiment with cotton blends, silk, or different fabric compositions.
Wash and dry the T-shirt before the DIY. Especially new clothing, colors bleeding, or the fabric shrinking can ruin your hard work.
Do not use fabric softener; it may prevent fabric paint from penetrating well in the material.
Iron the shirt, you need a smooth and flat surface for crisp designs.
How to transfer a design on a T-shirt
You can transfer designs to fabric with multiple methods: using a light source, transfer paper, water-soluble pen, iron-on pencil. For black and dark colors, the best option is white or other lighter colored iron-on pencils. Learn more about transferring designs onto fabric from this article by My Blueprint.
Which paint is best for painting on T-shirts?
I always recommend using paint specially designed for fabrics.
To hand-paint your T-shirts you can use: fabric paint (in all forms and sizes: markers, a thicker version in a small container, in squeeze bottles, 3D fabric paint), acrylic paint + fabric medium, spray paint, bleach or bleach pen, fabric dye, natural dyes from vegetables, spices, etc. (for example turmeric for yellow, avocado seed for pink, coffee for brown).
I don’t like to use acrylics to paint clothes. They’ll get sturdy, stiff, and rough after drying. However, for a fabric bag, you can use it without any problem.
Do you have a ton of acrylic paint? Get a bottle of Fabric Medium and turn them into gorgeous fabric paints. Fabric medium is a liquid that mixes well with the acrylic paint, but it also thins it out a bit. It will make the paint more flexible (your design won’t crack after drying or washing), more workable, and acts as an adhesive.
How to paint on black or dark garments
It’s harder to paint on dark fabrics. To make colors pop on dark materials, add a layer of white fabric paint first. Wait until it’s dry, and paint on it with your desired colors.
How to set fabric paint and make your new fancy shirts washable
You can quickly seal your design by ironing: turn them inside out or cover the pattern with a piece of clean cloth or fabric. It will keep your iron safe and also your work.
Another way to seal paint on a Tee is by tossing it in a tumble drier and setting it to a high temperature.
The heat will turn your design permanent.
You don’t have to iron if:
- you’re using pure acrylic paint,
- spray paint (but you should always check the instructions),
- on the paint’s label, it says it doesn’t require heat setting,
- if you make tie-dye shirts or ombre dyeing with soaking.
How to wash hand-painted T-shirts
Most fabric paints, after setting with heat, are washable at 40 degrees (always check the label).
However, I don’t recommend washing them right after you painting. Leave them for a couple of days.
Also, wash them inside out!
How to make your DIY Tees more interesting
1. Add effects and textures
Use a toothbrush to add small sprinkles. Hitting a brush, loaded with paint, results in bigger and longer splatters. Use a 3D fabric paint to make designs pop (it’s perfect for adding words).
2. Mix different techniques and methods
For example, to create a galaxy design: paint the base with this watercolor technique, then add stars and planets with a brush. You can also paint a base with spray paint and then stencil other symbols or words on top of it.
Other hand painting methods: ombre painting, tie-dye, bleaching pen
You can customize your t-shirt with other methods. Tie-dyed and ombre painted shirts are also very fashionable. I haven’t listed these techniques because they are not actually fabric painting methods. They are more dyeing and I only wanted to concentrate on ways that add specific designs, patterns, symbols, etc. to a Tee.
And a third way would be using a bleach pen or bleach and a brush to create patterns and graphics on clothing. This technique works best on black or dark-colored garments.
Final thoughts about painting T-shirts at home
As you can see, hand-painting T-shirts and other garments are pretty easy, also a lot of fun! Following the tips and hacks mentioned above, you can create and enjoy your new and unique Tees for years.
I only included three simple T-shirt painting ideas, but I’ll make other fun DIY, painted clothes soon, so stay tuned!
I hope you enjoyed this post!
Have you ever tried painting your clothes? What paint did you use? Leave a comment!