April 21, 2011

diy: font nerd shirt tutorial

Hey nerds!  I haven't made a stencil print in ages, but I've had this shirt in my brain for a while and finally made it happen this weekend.  I thought I'd put together a quick tutorial for those of you who have never tried this technique.  It's easy as pie so for those of you new to printmaking (or crafts in general) you might want to try this out so you can revel at your creative powers.

Here's what you'll need:
a cotton (or cotton blend) shirt
fabric paint (or screenprinting ink)
sponge brush
freezer paper
craft knife
iron and ironing surface
cutting surface

Got your stuff?  Then get on the crafty bus!

First, find your victim shirt. I like the cut and colour of this shirt, but it's a bit dilapidated and needs some extra cute in order for me to actually want to wear it.
Get your stencil and tape it to a cutting surface.  It's best if you have a self-healing mat, but I don't so I used my old accounting book.
Cut a piece of freezer paper slightly bigger than your stencil.  Make sure you tape it shiny side down!
Using a sharp craft knife begin cutting out the stencil.  Generally you will be cutting out anything that is printed on the page.  Whatever you cut out will be what shows up in your print.
Remove your stencil from the cutting surface.  I use my knife to gently cut away the tape.  Now take your stencil over to your shirt.  Once you've decided on placement begin to iron the paper to the fabric.  The shiny side is lightly waxed.  The heat of the iron will temporarily adhere the stencil to the shirt.
Sometimes I iron the entire stencil to the shirt and then pull away positive space.  This technique is especially useful when working with letters that contain negative space (ex O, R and D in this stencil).  The letter R in the above photo best illustrates what I mean...kind of.  This is helpful because it ensures that you have the middle of the letter in the right spot.  I hope that makes sense to y'all.
After you've pulled away all of the necessary pieces of your stencil go over it with the iron once more.  This way you'll know for sure that your stencil is totally and securely stuck on your shirt.  It's also helpful if you're ironing on a really flat surface instead of a overly fluffy ironing board cover.
Get some paint (or ink) on your sponge brush.  Slowly but liberally blot paint over your stencil.  I can guarantee you that your paint will bleed through.  Make sure you put several pages of newspaper inside the shirt to absorb the mess.
Once you've finished let the shirt sit for a few hours.  Allowing the paint to dry before removing the stencil prevents little fudge ups that lead to errant paint streaks.  After your paint is completely dry you'll probably have to heat set it so that it doesn't wash away in the laundry.  Read the label on your paint for directions.

And that's it!  You're wearing your nerdiness with pride and everyone will know your one true passion - fonts sweet fonts!
Feeling the font love yourself?  Click here to download the full size stencil.  If you do make it please be sure to send or link to photos.  I'd love to see what you come up with!