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T-shirt Stencilling

27 Sep 2010

I love stencils.

One day I decided to stencil a design onto a T-shirt. It worked so surprisingly well that over the next two weeks I stencilled every piece of clothing I could find.

By popular request, I spent an afternoon shooting all the shirts I had to hand. All of the designs – bar the mitxela one – were found through Google images and used without permission.

Plain old black spray paint. Leaves a gritty, coarse texture which normally I'd try and avoid, but in this case it works very well.

Bleach spray.

Ordinary acrylic paint, very thick. I later learned that diluting it helps it take to the fabric better.

Fabric paint applied with a brush – a very clean, smooth outcome.

Fabric paint applied with a brush.

The first attempt at spraying bleach. Numerous spillages but still looks decent.

Three layers of brushed fabric paint. To speed up the drying in between coats, I used a hairdryer and accidently shrunk one of the stencils, hence the blurriness between red and white.

The stencil is white fabric paint applied with a brush, not a positive that was placed before applying the black – although I did use that technique on other shirts.

Simple white fabric paint.

Spray bleach.

Fabric paint applied with a brush. I made several copies without the word 'president' too.

Fabric paint applied with a brush.

Bleach spray. The positive of the mitxela logo was placed before spraying the flames, and then the negative was used to spray the logo slightly offset, so the logo appeared to have a shadow.

Apologies to those I blatantly plagiarised.

Creating the stencils
I cut the stencils out of thin plastic, such as acetate. Spraying the back of the stencil with lightweight repositionable glue lets the whole thing become sticky without leaving a mess and hugely reduces overspray.

The bleach method is by far the cheapest, but also has the highest risk of going wrong. Doing very thin coats and dabbing with paper towels works best. Here's the tutorial that inspired my bleaching.