Category Archives: t-shirt

Day 39: Freezer Paper “Screen” Printing


Supplies: Freezer paper, printer, X-acto knife, cardboard or cutting mat, iron, fabric paint, t-shirt, paper or cardboard

Time: 30 minutes or more, depending on your design

About a year ago I was working on the Citizen Jane Film Festival, which is run by Stephens College and features films by, for, and about women.  I was taking a practicum class that worked with the festival and lots of staffers came to talk to us.  One of them had screen printed the t-shirts for the fest and that was my first introduction to the idea of screen printing at home.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks, so I eventually bought the supplies and tried it out.  I had a few failed attempts before I finally got screen printing to work.  It’s time consuming, but pretty darn cool!

So, needless to say, when I saw a tutorial for a simple screen-free, emulsion free, squeegee free way to print shirts at home I was really eager to try it.  Since I had gold ink I decided to get a red shirt and make a Gryffindor shirt for Megan (surprise again, Megan!).

I started by finding a picture, which I cropped and resized.  I don’t know who actually uses freezer paper, but I didn’t know what it was until I read about this project.  It’s kind of like a parchment paper with a waxy coating on one side.  It’s really cool because you can print directly onto the paper side of it!  I didn’t know that at first, so I started tracing the design, but then I realized I could print it, so I did.

Oops! Only took a picture of tracing! It looks like this only darker when you print it.

Side note: Someone just moved out of my building, so I get to move downstairs to a smoke-free apartment!  So I packed up all my clothes and bedding and project supplies and headed to my parents’ house to rid my clothes of the smell before moving them downstairs.  Anyway, my mom has a cutting mat in her sewing room (formerly my room), so I taped the printed freezer paper onto the cutting mat and used my X-acto knife to cut out the red parts.  I cut out the first section and put it on the shirt.  I went over the paper with an iron.  This is the magic part.  Because the top side is paper it doesn’t stick to the iron, but since the other side is wax it sticks to the shirt!

I continued to cut away the yellow sections and iron the red ones onto the shirt.

My finished iron on looked like this:

If I were to do this project over I would have made another thin line around the outside.  Without that line it doesn’t have the detail at the top.  You’ll see on the final product.

I took my gold ink (make sure you have fabric paint!) and a foam brush and painted over the exposed sections.  Don’t forget to put a piece of cardboard or something in the shirt.  If you don’t the ink could bleed through to the back.

When the ink dried I peeled the paper off.  I had to fold the shirt over a bit to get a corner of paper off, but then it peeled right off!

Once everything was peeled off I had a lovely Gryffindor shirt!

And, voila!  New shirt!  I can’t wait to do more of these.  Any suggestions?  By the way, I see a giveaway on the horizon…  Be on the lookout!  I’m off to decide what else to put on a shirt.




Day 33: Braided Bracelet


Supplies: Fabric (I used t-shirt yarn) or some kind of cord, ruler, scissors, something to hold the string, tapestry needle

Time: 20 minutes

Today it took me a long time to decide what to make.  I sifted through dozens of project ideas from Craftgawker before finally landing on one I’d bookmarked awhile back.  It’s a braided bracelet tutorial that’s a perfect use for t-shirt yarn if you have it.  It’s a really pretty bracelet, but it makes you feel like you’re 10 again.  It also requires only a couple materials.

I’m going to recommend you check out the original tutorial here in addition to this one.  It has tons of pictures!

I started with yellow and brown t-shirt yarn.  Yellow is my outside color and brown is inside.  The outside color strand should be 95cm and the inside color strand should be 52cm.  Fold both strands in half and set them up like this:

I used a chair leg to hold the folded end of the brown strand in place.

Now you’ll start braiding.  I’m going to explain with the colors I used just to make things clear.  Remember the yellow strand is the longer one.  Start with the left yellow cord.  Fold it over the left brown cord and under the right brown cord.

Sorry it's sideways. It wouldn't let me rotate it...

Then fold the right yellow strand over the right brown cord and under the left brown cord.

I guess these are going to be sideways 😦

Pull it tight and you’ll have something that looks like this:

Keep braiding until you have about an inch or so of yellow left on each side.

This is actually before I finished braiding.

Weave the yellow ends under the yellow loops.

Snip off any extra that sticks out.  Then you’ll tie a knot in each loose end of the brown.  I don’t know what kind of knot it is, but the tutorial calls it an overhand knot.

And your bracelet is done!  It’s actually kind of hard to put on alone, but you just lace one brown end through the brown loop and tie the two loose ends in a double knot.

When I get paid tomorrow I’m going to buy some colored cord and make one of these for my friend Megan.  (Surprise!  I’ll have it for you next time I see you!)

Have fun with these- I promise you will!


Day 2: T-Shirt Yarn


Supplies: Old t-shirts, scissors, dye (optional), bandaids

Time: About 20 minutes per shirt.  Not bad!

Back in March I screen printed a bunch of t-shirts for the film Zielinski.  Most of them worked out nicely, but there were a few that had little spots of ink where they didn’t belong.  So those poor shirts have been stashed away waiting to be turned into something else.

Shirt pile

Some of them had spots on the sleeves and collars, so I put those aside to be made into bags and whatnot at a later date.  The ones with spots and stains on the bottom half of the shirt, however, will be turned into… T-SHIRT YARN!  I read about t-shirt yarn several months ago and was fascinated, yet skeptical.  But now that I’ve made the yarn I’m really excited to use it (I have something in mind for Friday or Saturday).

All the tutorials I looked at used colorful shirts and I really like how they turned out.  Since I only had white shirts I decided to dye them to make them pretty.  I started the process last night.  Since I didn’t need the whole shirt for the yarn I decided to cut before coloring.

Ready for cutting

I’ll link you to the better illustrated tutorial I used at the end of the post, but here’s my little run down for you.  Start with your shirt laid out nice and flat with the hems lined up as much as possible.  You’ll only need the bottom part of the shirt, so cut a straight line right below the arms, so you’re left with a tube of shirt.


Dying fabric is pretty simple.  Just fill a pot (hopefully bigger than my sad little saucepans) with water and a little salt.

Glug, glug, glug.

Once the water comes to a boil add the dye.  I used liquid Rit, which I didn’t know existed until earlier this year.  It’s awesome!  Use a chopstick or a wooden spoon that you don’t mind turning colors to swirl the dye around a bit.  Then add the fabric and stir it around a little.  You might have to turn the heat down a couple notches if it starts spitting colored water everywhere.

Yellow and blue

So, the process has a tendency to be a tiny bit messy, but hopefully you can avoid this:


In a manner I’m not totally sure of I dumped about half the bottle of blue dye all over the kitchen.  I was just setting the bottle on the counter when it literally leaped out of my hand and threw itself everywhere!  Luckily, I was able to get it cleaned up with my now blue tea towels and some 409.  The curious cat was less than helpful.

giddy-up 409!

Unfortunately, I think I’ll have to dye my robe blue soon.

Good thing those pants are plaid.

I did this whole process last night so I wouldn’t have to pay for the dryer.  I made a little clothes line on my balcony and let the shirts dry overnight.

they were ready by morning

So today I made yarn.  First, lay the shirt out flat on the table and cut off the hem (not sure why I didn’t do that before).  You’ll have two raw sides and two closed sides.  Fold one closed side toward the other, leaving about and inch of fabric unfolded.

all tucked in.

You can fold it over twice if your cutting hand is feeling particularly strong.  Mine wasn’t, so I only folded it once.  Now you’ll start cutting.  This is really just a simpler way to cut the whole thing into a big spiral.  Cut 1/2”-1 1/2” strips of fabric up to the fold line.  Don’t cut through that last inch of fabric!


Then open up the tube.  Put the uncut part over the back of a chair, on your arm, or over you knee or something.  You’ll be cutting it.


At this point you might want to look at the real tutorial, but here’s my attempt at explaining this part.  Start at the first slit on one side of the shirt.  Cut diagonally from that slit to the second slit on the other side of the shirt.  Do that the rest of the way down the shirt and then cut the ends so you have one long strand!

shirt ribbon

Next comes the painful part.  Start at the end and hold a length of the strand in your hands.  Pull the shirt so it stretches and the edges kind of curl under.  Apparently, shirts are not that soft, so they kind of rip up your hands when you tug on it for a long time.  I now have bandaids (and blisters) on half of my fingers, but I think it was worth it.  I ended up with a pile of this:


Roll the yarn into balls and you’re ready to make something cool.  Do you think this is how they make plastic bag yarn?  Someone try it!


That’s it!  If you don’t need to dye your shirts this is a really quick and simple process.  I look forward to finding out how it knits.

Here’s the tutorial I used.

Have fun,