Sponge Paint Shirt Making

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It’s baby season again. I know at least five expectant mothers, and it inspired me to try a different type of fabric printing. As much as I love the effect of screen printing, it’s not a feasible method for one-off productions – you really need to be working in bulk for it to be worth it. But thanks to our Silhouette Cameo cutter, I’m able to create a detailed design for much smaller projects.

First, I began with the cutter and some adhesive vinyl, and I cut out my designs.

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I am using the vinyl as a stencil, so the design itself becomes the negative space.

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I repurposed a few letters from a rainbow baby design to decorate the raptor pen.

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Next, I used transfer paper to cover the design, and a squeegee to make sure it was firmly attached.

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Now I could remove the backing to the vinyl and stick it onto the pre-washed onesie. I used a fondant smoother as a squeegee here.

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I very carefully peeled off the transfer paper and made sure all the vinyl was stuck down well. Because my designs were close together on the vinyl so as not to waste space, some of the designs came pretty close to the edge. I added some hockey tape as a protective border to ensure that I didn’t colour outside of the lines too much.

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Remember of course that fabric is porous, so if you’re pushing ink onto it, you have to protect the back side of the shirt. I cut little rectangles out of a plastic bag and shoved one inside each onesie.

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Now for the application! I am using regular cellulose kitchen sponges, which are very soft and have large holes in them. This will produce something of a vintage, faded effect on the onesie, because you’re not producing as much pressure as you would while screen printing. If you wanted something a little sharper, use a finer sponge, like a cosmetic sponge. They also make sponges specifically to apply paint and ink so you could use one of those as well.

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I’m using my Speedball fabric screen printing ink, because that’s what I had on hand, but you could use any form of fabric ink or paint and you’d probably have a similar result.

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Dabbing a little bit of ink on the sponge – don’t want too much all at once.

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Deep breath – ready?

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Here I gently dabbed the ink into the negative space on my stencil, dabbing a few times to ensure I got everything covered.

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Then I started experimenting with blending colours.

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It got a little tricky when all the cut-outs were so close together.

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Now I had to force myself to wait overnight for these to dry properly before I could see what they looked like.

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Okay I cheated: I pulled them off about four hours later. So this is the dried ink just after removal of the stencil. Everything is pretty sharp, but you have to wash this AGAIN to get any loose ink off.

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Here are my designs after another wash and run through the dryer. You can see that the ink is sort of faded in the corners, like a vintage t-shirt. TADA!

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Fun with Adhesive Vinyl

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The Pie and I are really enjoying all the cool things that can be done with our new Silhouette Cameo die cutter. And now that everyone we know knows that we have one, we’re fully expecting people to flood us with ideas of things to make. For them. But for now we’re still making stuff just for us. This past weekend we created some decals for the Pie’s new batting helmet, complete with his team logo on the front and his name and number as well.

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And requisite hidden corgi inside.

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I also have a huge blank space inside my office above my whiteboard. In our office the whiteboards often have inspirational sayings on them, mostly to do with sales or customer service or opportunity or whatever. Mine is thankfully blank. And I like the idea of putting words up on the wall but I’m not a huge fan of the flowery sayings that people use and then spread all over Pinterest. It’s just not my style.

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So I got a little creative with my thinking and went with something a bit different, to remind me to simply chill out when dealing with my particularly challenging clients.

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It was kind of a pain to put up and it’s a little crooked but I love it.

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I used the extra space on the vinyl to add some Space Invaders as well. Also crooked. Crooked is definitely my style.

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Everyone in the office over the age of 25 comes in and goes, “SPACE INVADERS! AWESOME!” and everyone under the age of 25 comes into the office and goes, “CRAY CRAY! AWESOME!” So at least I know I’m hitting all the demographics.

Camouflaging the Freezer

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I inherited this freezer from Mrs. Nice. The one that the Pie and I bought when we moved to St. John’s we gave to Krystopf and Atlas for storing food for Gen. Zod, and then we didn’t have one anymore and Mrs. Nice didn’t need this one so we got it. She’d been using it as a work table of sorts in the garage, however, and so the top of it is a little marred, to say the least.

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So I got this coloured Con-Tact Paper and decided to cover it over.

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First I cleaned the surface of the freezer thoroughly. If you were feeling super adventurous you could cover the whole freezer but I was mostly just concerned with covering up the rust marks so I just did the very top.

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Then I cut the first piece to overlap the lid of the freezer just a little bit at the back and pulled off the first part of the backing. When you’re dealing with a big sheet of adhesive vinyl you only want to pull off a little bit of the backing at a time.

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Then you can easily smooth out all the bubbles as you work.

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Now if I’d been more clever I would have gotten some kind of Con-Tact paper that could overlap better but again, this is a freezer in my basement so I’m not super concerned about the ends matching up.

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It’s simple to score the paper with scissors to trim it at the ends.

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Tada. I’m not looking at the icky bits any more, and I’ve been meaning to do this for EVER. I wish I’d done it to our old rusty fridge in St. John’s so I wouldn’t have to look at it anymore.

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Fun with BLEACH

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Well, that’s certainly a title that’ll get your attention, eh? This is a quick and easy way to personalize cotton t-shirts just the way you like them – it’s not screenprinting, but the results are just as satisfactory and the whole process is way faster. Plus it’s something that even kids can do (if you trust them to use bleach). And I’m going to show you two ways to do it.

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First, you need some spray bottles that produce a fine mist (the squirty ones won’t do you any good here), and some bleach. Make a solution of about half bleach and half water (or maybe 3/4 bleach and 1/4 water if you trust yourself) and pour that in the bottle.

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Now you need a cotton (or mostly cotton) t-shirt in a dark or bright, saturated colour (you can use pastel colours but the results won’t be as contrasty). Wash and dry the shirt to remove any sizing from the manufacturer that may interfere with the bleach.

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Grab yourself some adhesive vinyl or Con-Tact paper.

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Cut your vinyl into the desired shape you want. You can either use the shapes to mask off an area that you will bleach around, or the vinyl can act as a shield to the rest of the shirt and only your design will be bleachy – that’s up to you.

Make sure to press the vinyl firmly into the fabric of the shirt.

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Slide some waxed paper or plastic inside the shirt to prevent the bleach from leaking through to the other side.

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Spray your design lightly and evenly with bleach.

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Just a light misting.

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Use a rag to dab away any beads of bleach that might drip onto your shirt (unless you want them to drip).

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Wait a few minutes and then carefully peel off your vinyl.

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Watch as the design emerges. When you get the right level of bleachiness that you like, rinse the shirt under cold water to stop the bleach process. Then chuck the shirt in the wash and run it through a cycle with soap to get out all the bleach.

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When your shirt is dry, you will be the coolest person out there.

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Another method, if you don’t have adhesive vinyl on hand is to use paper stencils and a glue stick. So you just cut out your design and slather it with glue from the glue stick. Make sure to go right to the edge.

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Flatten it firmly on your shirt.

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Spritz on your bleach, dab, and remove the paper before it gets too saturated with liquid (because that will soak through). Don’t worry if there’s a bit of paper left – that will come off in the wash. On this design (Serenity!), we added a few extra drops of bleach here and there to make it look like the ship was traveling through a nebula in space.

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Tada.

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On this shirt we did a similar negative image with a Rebel Alliance symbol from Star Wars, and then on the back we did the Galactic Empire symbol, so good on the front and evil on the back!

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Here we did a positive image, where the paper served as a shield for the rest of the shirt. You may recognize the Autobots symbol from Transformers.

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Another positive image, this one of a stylized Joker’s face from the Dark Knight film series.

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Because the pupils were hard to glue in place I used a fabric marker to add them back in. The shininess will go away the first time the shirt is washed.

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On this design the stencil I used was too thin and the bleach soaked around the edges. Not to worry!

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I simply used some more fabric markers to trace the proper outline and I really like the finished result.

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