01 September 2011

Poor Man's Screen Printing T-Shirts

Picture by Callie Leuck. 
When one of my friends proposed to his lady, I knew I wanted to make him something awesome for his bachelor party. One of the other bridesmaids had an idea for shirts for the bachelorette party (featuring a cute saying of the bride's) and I knew what the bachelor party's shirts should say--something the groom says all the time.

My memory dredged up a scene from summer canoe camp at Waycross Camp. After tye-dying our shirts and hanging them to dry, I came upstairs one night to see the counselors painstakingly cutting the words "Waycross Canoe Camp" out of a sheet of wax paper. They then set it on the first shirt and painted over it with black.

I decided to do this for my friend's bachelor party. I picked Old Navy Ringer Tees for $4 apiece at the store. (I got an extra one as a "tester" in case I completely ruined the first one. When crafting, this is an excellent idea.) I ironed the shirts and hung them in the bathroom so I could take over our basement den with my crafting accessories.

Picture by Callie Leuck. I did end up ruining the grey one. Yay for foresight!
I typed my friend's phrase into a Word document and played with the font and size until I had a size I was happy with. (I picked the font based on what would be easiest to cut out of wax paper with an X-Acto knife.)
Picture by Callie Leuck. I did not bother saving the holes for the e,a, d. That would be insane.
Picture by Callie Leuck. After being cut out. This took some time. It would have been a good idea to have picked up an audio book at the library to entertain myself during this project. It would have been less visually distracting than Game of Thrones on HBO.
I also cut out the remaining part of the phrase to put on another section of the shirt, as well as labels for the back. (Groom, Best Man, Groomsman) Then I laid the wax paper stencil on the front of the first shirt and used a sponge brush to dab the acrylic paint onto the stencil.

Picture by Callie Leuck. 
Picture by Callie Leuck. 
Picture by Callie Leuck. 
Picture by Callie Leuck. 
I set the shirts carefully on a laundry drying rack until the paint was dry to the touch. Then I flipped them over and did the backs. Between paint jobs, I laid the wet stencils on long sheets of wax paper spread on the floor.

Picture by Callie Leuck. 
Picture by Callie Leuck. 
And repeated the drying. When they were dry enough, I hung them back up in the bathroom to dry completely overnight.

Picture by Callie Leuck. 
For funsies, I made a joke shirt for the groom--the same design on an XL Children's bright pink shirt I found at the craft store. Plus some jewel appliques, of course.

Picture by Callie Leuck. 
Picture by Callie Leuck. I'm told that not only did he wear this, it actually fit.
July 2012 Update: The groom confirmed that he wore this shirt. He was surprised that anybody thought that he wouldn't have done so. He apparently got a giant kick out of it, and enjoyed the use of his ridiculous phrase.
After drying all night, I rolled each one up, secured each with a rubber band, and shipped it off to the Best Man. End of Project!

Bachelor Party T-Shirt Creation Photos

Project Costs
About $30 plus an afternoon. (Cheaper if you already have wax paper, X-Acto knife, acryllic paint) Getting one printed online is comparable to what I payed for all of these. Also, it was incredibly fun. SO MUCH SO that I bought more shirts to make personalized T-shirts as a birthday present for my sister.

Sister Birthday T-Shirt Photos

Project Recommendation
Highly recommend. High entertainment value, as long as you're patient enough to cut the stencil out of the wax paper. Sometimes the stencils start curling a bit when they're damp with paint, which makes perfect re-application on the next shirt tricky. I didn't worry too much about it being a bit blobby. (Gave it some character, and I didn't think the guys would care.) If this worries you, maybe get some stiff sheets of plastic and make a more durable stencil.

Project Durability
Unknown. Since I didn't keep the shirts, I don't know how they stand up to washing. It is acrylic paint, so it should be OK, but I wouldn't be very surprised if it started flaking a bit after some time. I was primarily concerned with creating a one-use shirt. Anybody know more about this?