Fun and Easy T-shirt Design Project

We are always looking for fun and easy projects that can be done in a short amount of time and that result in a great looking end product.  Here we show you how to make fun t-shirt designs that can be made using light-sensitive color dyes.  Basically, you draw a design on acetate with a marker, paint dye onto the shirt area and then expose shirt to the sunshine for 5 to 8 minutes and rinse the shirt in hot water.  It's that simple.  Inkodye develops in sunlight. You can do sun painting with shapes and stencils, screen printing, stenciling, hand painting, block printing, spraying or squirting.  It can be used on cotton, viscose rayon, linen and raw silk.

And what a fun party project for kids 8 and up.  Kids can take home their own shirt when they leave the party!  How cool is that?  Plain, basic tees can be purchased at any craft store in numerous colors but for this project we highly suggest white.  Want to make pillows?  Just cut a square of white or off-white fabric, muslin is a good, inexpensive choice, and follow the same directions.

You will need:

  • White t-shirt
  • Inkodye
  • Painters tape
  • Black permanent or Dry erase marker
  • Acetate, glass or clear binder sheet
  • Brush/foam brush
  • Cardboard insert for t-shirt
  • Sunny day

Obviously, you will first have to purchase the Inkodye colors you would like to use.  These are available in 14 fun colors online at Dharma Trading or from Lumi where you can buy 3 colors in larger quantities, plus they have a great tutorial. 

Basic Procedure:

  1. Insert a piece of cardboard into t-shirt and position below where your design will go.
  2. Figure out size of your design and then tape a square on shirt, using painter's tape, to define your design area.
  3. Draw a design on clear acetate or small piece of glass with the marker.  (It may work to use clear binder sleeves, which woukld be rather inexpensive for a group ... we will be trying this)  Remember that your design will, basically, be a reverse of what you draw.  In other words, where you draw black will actually be white on your finished design. 
  4. Now, working indoors, since you don't want your design to start "developing" early, paint a thick layer of the dye onto the t-shirt, getting right up to the edges of the tape.
  5. Set design, centered, over top of the inked t-shirt.  Immediately set outside in the sunshine.  
  6. Wait 5-8 minutes for the developing to finish.
  7. Rinse with hot water, then let dry.
  8. Wallah!  Now you have a fun t-shirt designed by You!