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Project Seventy Three: A Tortoise Fable T-Shirt

July 26, 2011

Ever since coming across a tutorial for freezer paper stencil t-shirts over at MADE, I have wanted to give this a go. Freezer paper is an American thing though, and it took me a while to track some down (thank you Ebay). While I was waiting for my freezer paper to arrive I got the boy to come up with a t-shirt design for himself and I bought some fabric paint from Tindalls on King Street, and some plain t-shirts from Primark and charity shops.

The boy’s design was a tortoise and the words ‘slow and steady wins the race’ (he likes that fable). It wasn’t too hard to find an image of a tortoise I could turn into a stencil, and I cut it out of the freezer paper. I then printed out the words and cut then out of the freezer paper too (which took a couple of hours of very careful cutting). As this was our first ever go at printing on a t-shirt, we decided to use an old stained t-shirt as a trial run.

Once I had my stencils cut it was just a matter of ironing the freezer paper into position on the t-shirt (and try to hide the stain on the front), painting a few layers of paint over the stencil, leaving it to dry between coats (or speeding the process up with a hairdryer), and then peeling away the freezer paper to reveal the printed image. Once that was done I fixed the paint on by ironing it for a few minutes on the highest setting, with a tea towel between the t-shirt and the iron. The boy did all the painting and I did all the ironing.

We made this t-shirt in stages, first painting on the tortoise and then when that was dry positioning and painting on the words for the front of the t-shirt. After the front was dry the boy decided to put a big ‘S’ on the back (the first initial of his name). He’d got impatient by this stage though and only did one layer of paint, giving a bit of a streaky finish, but that doesn’t matter!

I can’t believe how easy this was and how good the results! Freezer paper is amazing stuff. I predict many more t-shirts being designed and painted over the summer by the boy and I, watch this space!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 31, 2011 6:33 am

    Fab idea! Must get hold of some freeze paper now…
    Is the paint your using fabric paint? And how does the ink hold up to being washed? Does it fade or last well?

    • August 5, 2011 2:14 pm

      Hi butterfly, yes the paint I used is fabric paint, so far this green paint has stood up well to being washed (only two washes so far though!), this green paint was dylon fabric paint, I should hope it lasts well.

  2. August 1, 2011 10:49 am

    I love this idea, how much was the freezer paper and is the paint expensive??

    • August 5, 2011 2:18 pm

      Hi Emily, the freezer paper cost me £6 from ebay for 50ft of it, so will last me ages and ages. The paint cost me about £3-£4 per pot for each of the colours I bought, but so far I haven’t even used a quarter of the pot for each t shirt, so quite economical really, added to the cost of £2t-shirts and each t-shirt works out cheaper than ordering custom ones online (about $£20 each from Cafe Press) and still cheaper than a lot of nice t-shirts on the high street. Hope that helps!

  3. August 15, 2011 1:14 pm

    I love your blog & was especially excited about this fabric painting. Thanks for showing up on my blog & making a comment or I would never have found you!!

    Big L,

  4. August 1, 2014 10:47 am

    Great tshirt contratulations


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