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Slide Boy T-Shirt How-To
You've probably seen folks making T-shirts by starting with a black T-shirt and spraying or painting bleach onto it.

They generally look like crap. (Actually, the ones you see on Flickr are actually very nice.) But some look like crap. That's because black turns to orange before turning white when subject to bleach. Plus, if you wait long enough to get to white, you've probably ruined the fibers. Plus those shirts always have a ragged outline.

So here's an alternative:

First, use a dark colored shirt, but not black. So far I've tried red, which bleached to a beautiful pink, and green, which turned a nice yellow. The trick is to only leave the bleach on for a minute.

Second, make an outline stencil with freezer paper. This gives you a nice border around whatever you do with the bleach.

You could actually make a full stencil out of Freezer Paper, but that's takes actual skill and effort. So I'm using wood letters I bought at Target. It's $5 for one set of A-Z. I bought a few sets to ensure I could write most anything.

Oh, and the "Slide Boy" part? The shirt is for Joe, who goes beyond the call of duty when PowerPoint presentations need extra love.

Posted by Tommy Published See Tommy's 5 projects »
  • How to paint a t-shirt. Slide Boy T Shirt - Step 1
    Step 1

    Step one is to arrange your letters on freezer paper and draw an outline around them. The shape drawn will end up a lighter color, with the letters remaining dark.

    The paper should be shiny side down. The plastic coating will later be ironed against the shirt, which will make it adhere.

  • How to paint a t-shirt. Slide Boy T Shirt - Step 2
    Step 2

    Step 2 is to cut out the outline and check that the letters look good within them.

  • How to paint a t-shirt. Slide Boy T Shirt - Step 3
    Step 3

    Step 3 is to arrange your materials.

    Not shown: a spray bottle filled with bleach. i don't like to even touch the bleach bottle until everything else is set up.

  • How to paint a t-shirt. Slide Boy T Shirt - Step 4
    Step 4

    Step 4 is to iron the freezer paper to the shirt.

    First, put a piece of cardboard inside the shirt to protect the backside. Lately, I've also been putting a sheet of freezer paper inside, to help prevent bleeding.

    (The freezer paper needs to be shiny side up inside the shirt and the stencil should be shiny side down. The plastic coating is what adheres it to the shirt.)

    Lightly iron it to the shirt. It'll stick pretty good but can later be pulled away without leaving any sort of residue.

    Then fold exposed shirt underneath, to keep it covered with the freezer paper.

  • How to paint a t-shirt. Slide Boy T Shirt - Step 5
    Step 5

    Step 5 is to arrange the letters.

    Then a bunch of things happen, none of which are recorded. (Because I'm not about to start spraying bleach around when my digicam is anywhere near.) You'll just have to use your imagination. Here's what happens next:

    - The spray bottle gets filled with bleach. (Well, not filled. Just enough to work.)
    - The shirt gets a spritzing of bleach. Be careful. You want an even coat. But if you soak the fabric, it'll seep under the letters.
    - Place a paper towel over it all and lightly press on the letters to absorb excess bleach.
    - I wait just under a minute, then use one of those sticky lint-removal rollers to pluck the letters off the shirt. (If you don't blot off the excess bleach, it'll roll off the letters when you pick them up, potentially ruining the shirt.)
    - Once the shirt just starts to lighten, I run the shirt inside and rinse it in cold water.
    - Then I hand wash it in cold water, with laundry detergent.
    - Then I wash it in the washing machine, twice.
    - Then I dry it.

  • How to paint a t-shirt. Slide Boy T Shirt - Step 6
    Step 6

    Here's the final result. Looks nice. A few glitches, but that just adds to the charm.

    If you leave the bleach on too long, you'll weaken the fabric. The solution is to 1) get a decently heavy-weight shirt, 2) don't leave the bleach on long, and 3) wash it very, very well.

    (You can also dilute the bleach, to slow the whole process. But I never do and I've yet to have a shirt develop holes.)

    The next two slides are of a similar shirt I made, starting with a red shirt.

  • How to paint a t-shirt. Slide Boy T Shirt - Step 7
    Step 7

    This was an easy shirt to make. I cut a heart-shaped hole out of a big sheet of freezer paper and ironed it to the shirt. Then I took wooden letters from some kid toy and spelled out the words. The magnetic board that came with the letters is inside the shirt, both to hold the letters in place as well as to protect the back-side of the shirt. The plus sign was cut out of freezer paper and ironed to the shirt.

    Finally, I spritzed it with some bleach and waited just a couple minutes. Then I removed the letters, peeled off the freezer paper, and rinsed it well in cold water. Then I washed it.

    The fabric itself doesn't seem damaged from the bleach, but it'll take a few washes to tell for sure.

  • How to paint a t-shirt. Slide Boy T Shirt - Step 8
    Step 8

    Close-up of the shirt. Freezer paper makes for nice sharp lines. The wooden letters made impressively sharp outlines as well.

Made this project? Share your version »


Tommy · 5 projects
No problem! Just don't get bleach in your eyes!

(Seriously. I don't wear goggles, per se. But I do wear an old pair of glasses.)
Kiara Lynn
Kiara Lynn · Lawrence, Kansas, US


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