Make It Your Own: Updating a T-Shirt with Stencils

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Hello there! Today I want to share a really fun & quick project to personalise or update your t-shirts! This is really easy to do and the perfect project if you feel like a creative project but don’t have a lot of time on your hands. It only took me a couple of minutes plus the time it needs to dry. I love those little projects that you can squeeze in after work.

The lovely folks over at Stencil Revolution offered to send some stencils for me to try. What I love about their company is that it’s a small, family-owned operation that developed out of what originally was a street art forum. I love supporting upcoming creative businesses and I really had a great experience with them. They offer a large variety of designs and sizes (for decorating walls etc), I stuck to smaller sizes as they seemed a better fit for decorating shirts, fabrics and tote bags.

These stencils are not very expensive but are very long lasting. It’s a hard plastic sheet that you can wipe and wash and reuse many times. I had specific project ideas in mind when ordering the three larger stencils. But I picked the arrow stencils knowing this would be a motif I will probably use over and over again! Obviously, you can use these for walls, furniture, bags etc., too. I just love a t-shirt refashion and I buy plain white & black t-shirts every once in a while for exactly these kind of projects.

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So, how does it work?

First of all, here’s what you need:

– stencil templates 
– fabric paint (I used black and light blue/turquoise)
– small dry sponge
– old plate or plastic container to pour the paint in
– masking tape
– a piece of cardboard (big enough to place under the area you are using colour on)
– iron & iron board

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  1. Prepare the shirt/fabric and template.
    If necessary, you might want to iron the shirt to make sure there are no creases. Clean the template if you used it before, to make sure it’s dry and there no residue colour. Use some masking tape to tape the template into place. It’s very important that it doesn’t move once you start with the colour.
    If using this on a shirt, place a piece of cardboard between both fabric layers. Otherwise, the colour might come through and leave stains on the back. A hard, smooth surface also makes it easier to get a neat result.
  2. Pour fabric paint onto your dish and dab your dry sponge in it. Dab it a couple times more onto the plate to have some of the paint come off. Using too much paint might need to colour bleeding. If you want to get crisp edges, make sure you use less paint and apply it in several layers.
  3. Dab the paint onto the fabric. Try not to use stroking motions as this might lead to blotches and colour bleeding as it gets under the template. This will also give the paint more of a sprayed “graffiti” look.
    If you want an ombre effect as I did with my project, start with the lighter colour. I used the light blue for the first layer, let it dry a bit and then dabbed over it with black again. For the colours to blend softly you really want to use as little paint on the sponge as possible. Work in layers until you get the opacity that you like.
  4. Let it dry. I usually remove the template afterwards. If you remove it while the paint is still wet it might smudge and blur.
  5. Once it’s dry remove the template and iron your fabric from the wrong side to set the colour.
    That’s it, you’re done!

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I’m planning more projects with these stencils. They would also make a great project to do with kids. That Bill Murray will go on a tote bag for sure!

I’m looking for some nice gold or rose gold textile paint. Do you have any recommendations?



Please note: As always, all opinions are my own. All my product reviews are completely honest. I was gifted this product, but not asked to review it or given compensation for doing it.

Happy crafting!


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7 thoughts on “Make It Your Own: Updating a T-Shirt with Stencils

  1. I like Jacquard fabric dyes for stencilling, the usual colours work in the same way as your paint. They do a very wide range including metallics which behave slightly differently (their website is full of useful information, as is Dharma Trading’s.) The little make-up sponges from cheap shops are great for applying it 🙂

  2. This is awesome! love the stencil you used for the shirt. It’s amazing how some times it’s the simple (or simpler) things that work the best-like these stencils-for giving textiles like that shirt a new lease on life!
    We’ve recently started our own blog to talk about things like this and share tutorials of our upcycles, feel free to check us out!

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