Sunday, November 11, 2007

Stencil Tee Shirts and Folk Rock Dreams

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Stencil Tees

I sometimes like to imagine that I am one of those super cool singer-songwriter chicks, and I am sitting in a coffeehouse with my guitar, sounding like Kasey Chambers, or maybe covering the Old 97s Murder or a Heart Attack. I am wearing a cute vintage skirt and a very hip tee shirt, and my hair is in braids or pulled back in a cute little calico scarf. Everyone in the coffeehouse is, of course, amazed by my playing, and thinks that I am exactly the kind of girl they have always wished they could hang out with.

Unfortunately I really have no musical ability, and have forgotten every guitar chord I ever tried to learn…. I have the outfits though, and so can you, when you make your own stencil tee shirts.

You will need a roll of Reynolds Freezer Paper. It is like a heavy butcher paper, which has a plastic-y layer on one side. Draw out your design on the paper side, and cut with an X-Acto knife. Iron it onto the shirt (plastic side down) then use acrylic paint to fill in the stencil. Don’t forget to put some cardboard or something in between the front and the back of the tee shirt.

Tee shirt-wise, I recommend Target’s Mossimo stretch tees, they are really soft, they hold up really well, and are cut slim through the body, but are plenty long.

I suggest peeling off the freezer paper when the paint is almost, but not totally dry. Acrylic is very plastic-y when it dries, and will not want to let go of the edges of your stencil.

You can launder these shirts normally. I don’t throw them in the dryer, and I try to remember to turn them wrong side out, but I have washed the shirts you see above dozens of times, and the paint is not coming off. It does crack where it stretches, like most older tee shirt inks.

Couldn’t you just screen print these, you ask? Well of course. If you want to make dozens to sell, invest in screen printing materials. However, if you just want one, this is very simple and quick.