I love graphic t-shirts! I’ve been seeing a lot of cute and trendy ones on Pinterest. In the past I’ve created DIY screen prints, so I thought, why not make my own custom graphic t-shirts?
Making your own custom graphic t-shirt is pretty simple. If you have Photoshop skills, you can create custom designs. If you don’t have access to Photoshop, Canva is a great tool you can use if you’d like a simple text graphic. The easiest option in my opinion is to search on Pinterest to find designs, quotes, whatever is simple and will translate well to a printed graphic.
- T-shirt (American Apparel sells ethically-made, decently priced tops that are cute!)
- Embroidery hoops
- Tights (Swedish Stockings makes sustainable tights. I bought mine from them. Buy tights that are lighter in color so it makes tracing easier.)
- Paint (Martha Stewart paint is my favorite to buy. The colors are beautiful and the paints are multi-surface, so they’re good to use for all sorts of projects.)
- Paint brushes
- Mod Podge
- Designs printed on paper
- Old rewards card
- Cut tights in half along the seam. Once they are split in half, take one of the legs and cut along the edge lengthwise.
- Once cut, stretch the material out slightly. Then open up your embroidery hoop and stretch the material over the inner hoop, (you may need an extra set of hands to help with this). Then as the material is stretched all around the inner hoop, place it inside the outer ring and tighten the hoop so the material stays stretched around it.
- Place your design beneath the hoop (tight side down). Using the sharpie, trace the design on the tights.
- Next place newspapers on your work surface. Then, with a paint brush, paint Mod Podge all around the design, (do not paint inside the lines of your design). I’d recommend repeating the process a second time. This will help ensure the tights are properly sealed and that no paint will seep out.
- Once the Mod Podge has dried, you’re ready to use your screen! Take your t-shirt and place the piece of card board through the center of your shirt. This will help prevent paint from seeping through to the other side.
- Place your screen over your shirt, make sure it’s lined exactly as you’d like the design to appear painted on. Squeeze paint over your screen print, specifically the area of your design. Using an old credit card or rewards card, firmly scrape the paint over the design. Make sure you’ve ran paint over your entire design. Gently lift your screen up off your shirt. Then let your shirt dry.
Tip: It’s best to use a design with a thick font. Some of the paint may bleed and it could ruin a fine design. If your design is more fine (like mine pictured) test your screen on some paper before using on your shirt. You’ll need to rinse off your screen and dry it before re-using.
Here are some designs I made that you can use for your own DIY screen print graphic t-shirt:
Have you ever made and/or customized your own clothing? If so, what did you make?