Saturday, May 28, 2011

Project Ideas: $2 T-Shirts Are... Awesome!

And what can I do with this.... Hmmmmmm......
From my name, The Cardboard Crafter, you can infer that I love a craft project... and also that I love love LOVE low cost materials. Lately I've been scheming to combine both. The only thing that's been holding me back is waiting for my materials to arrive. Why wait, you might ask... Well, I've ordered half my materials from eBay, and the other half are from the Dollar Tree, so I had to wait for my packages to arrive and plan a trip to the store (a difficult prospect when travelling alone with 3 small children). Last night I finally had enough of my materials to start my project, and I'm pretty pleased with the results. Check it out:


Blank T-shirt -- $1 at Dollar Tree
Iron-on patches --$0.50 to $2 on eBay
Contact paper -- on hand, or $2
Scissors -- on hand
Permanent marker -- on hand
Acrylic paint/brush -- on hand or price varies
Fabric -- on hand

Plain T-Shirts from the Dollar Tree, $1 each. I call this a stack full of potential.

Iron on patches from eBay. These can vary in price, but the ones I purchased
range from 50 cents to $2. I have a few more on the way (Transformers, Buzz
Lightyear), but I had enough to start this project.

I planned to use the skull and scorpion patches on the black T-shirt, but I
also wanted to have a skull on the front. The best way I've found to get a really
crisp image is to use a stencil. Contact paper is great for making one-time use
stencils for fabric. Acrylic craft paint does not wash out of fabric, so that's
what I used here. (You could use fabric paint, but I had this on hand.)

A roll of contact paper costs about $2, but it has so many uses. We only
used a small section here, about a 10 inch square. Using a permanent marker,
I drew my design. Remember to keep it simple enough to cut out, and you
will need to keep the negative parts of the image.

Peel the backing and adhere the contact paper to your T-shirt. You will need
to put a piece of cardboard between the two layers of T-shirt fabric so the paint
doesn't bleed through.

Paint! You may wish to dab the paint to decrease the wrinkling of the fabric.
Wait for the paint to dry (20-60 minutes, usually) and apply a second coat.

When the paint is dry (or before if you are careful), peel the stencil off your
T-shirt to reveal a crisp, graphic emblem.

Apply your patches according to the directions. I used a hot iron and a
handkerchief between the iron and patch to keep from burning my shirt.
You can anchor patches on with a few hand stitches if they are not

My little man modeling his new T-shirt. He said, "Mommy, I look like
Sid!" (from Toy Story). I told him that was okay, as long as he acts
like Andy.

I have plans for a few more shirts, but I am still waiting for the patches and iron-on transfers to arrive. It can take weeks if you order from overseas, so if you are an impatient sort of person (you know who you are), you might prefer to buy patches at your local craft or fabric store. You might spend a little more money, but given that you could spend $10-$20 on a nice T-shirt, it will probably still be worth it. And if you do this project with your kids, you will be creating memories and your child will wear his or her T-shirt with a sense of pride and accomplishment. So, this is a great project all around. 

I started a second T-shirt, but am still waiting on an additional patch to arrive, so it's not finished yet. Thought I'd give you a peek anyhow.

I decided to use the military style patches on a khaki-colored T-shirt. I had
a little camo fabric left over from turning a pair of too-short pants into shorts
for my son, so I thought I'd integrate that as well.

It's best to wait until you have all of your pieces before you start (but I'm not
that patient). When you have your pieces, you can lay them out on the shirt
to see how they will look best. That's what I was doing with these patches.

I sewed on an extra patch of fabric for balance before ironing on the patches
that I have. I am still awaiting a gold star that will go on the top, right corner
of the red patch. When the shirt is finished, I'll post a picture of it on the model.

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