Monday, 1 October 2012

Tumble dying with a stencil to make a cool t-shirt

After watching me making my ombre dyed, polka dot t-shirt, my boys were desperate to get in on some Tumble Dye action. After some discussion, they decided on a Party Rock Gym design. There are images all over the internet for this and, after looking at a few, I came up with this design of my own using MS Word and Powerpoint.

If you would like to use my design, you can download it here and resize as necessary.

I printed the design on to normal paper, covered it in clear Contact plastic film (only to keep it strong enough to be used more than once) and cut out the lines with a scalpel.

The inside bits of the letters are saved and stuck to the bottom corner of the stencil. If you can, I would recommend cutting out letters as I've done for the circular part of the design, leaving a bit of paper to hold any middle bits in place, as for the 'P', 'A', 'R' etc. The little connector bits hardly show in the finished product.

After being asked at least 67 times if it was ready yet, I finally finished cutting out the stencil! It was then laid on to a square of t-shirt fabric, placed outside on newspaper and I let the boys loose with the dye spraying!

They were actually really careful and loved doing it.

My tips for children using these dyes would be:

  • Make sure the nozzle is pointing in the direction you want the dye to go (yes, we learned this the hard way!); 
  • Spray approximately 10cm from the fabric;
  • Don't saturate the fabric with dye as it will run under the stencil, just gradually build up to the intensity you want; 
  • You can mix colours to get fantastic effects, but be careful not to mix more than two colours or you get muddy brown.
  • It's worth dyeing a square of fabric, rather than the actual t-shirt in case of mistakes and resulting meltdowns (we had both!).

When the dyeing was finished, we blotted off excess dye that was pooling on the stencil using paper towel and carefully lifted the stencil away from the fabric. I ironed the designs to set the dye, trimmed the edges, then stitched them on to t-shirts (which I'd also made, it was a busy day!) for the boys.

I used a strip of the trimmed fabric to sew a zig-zag along the side of the t-shirt for extra coolness!! I've been saving all my dye-covered scraps to use as embellishments for future projects.

The boys are SO thrilled with their t-shirts. They wore them to their hip hop class and proudly announced that they'd made them themselves when the teacher admired them!

A very rewarding project, which could be adapted for varying ages.


fabric epiphanies said...

What a great project. My boys would love that! Doesn't sewing the stenciled piece on later save a lot of worry?

Megan O said...

Thank you. These dyes are just so much fun! I must say, I had your Rip Curl t-shirt in mind when I thought about sewing the design on later. Thanks for that idea :)


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