Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I'm trying to keep expenses to a minimum this year (like everyone, I know!) and hand made gifts are often cheaper than purchased ones.  My kids especially love knowing that their gift was made by Mom just for them.  (I really hope that never changes!)

Peter is my Dino Man, and he loves anything ferocious and mean.

(When Peter was five his favorite movie was Jurassic Park.  I know you might be shocked that I'd let my five year old watch it, but he wasn't scared in the least.  As Handyman said, "Jurassic Park is only scary if you're worried about the humans."  Peter associates more with the ferocious dinosaurs in the movie than the wimpy humans running around screaming.)

So anyway, for Peter's Christmas gifts this year I decided to make him screen printed hoodies ($4 on sale at Menards!) designed just with him in mind.  (I personally loathe hoodies but my son adores them and would never wear anything else if I let him have his way.)

This first one I designed with a bit of a minimalistic "Mini Boden" idea in mind (if Mini Boden was a ferocious man-eating dinosaur, of course).

The second one is my favorite and I'm absolutely thrilled with how well it came out.

For both tees I just googled "dinosaur image" and searched for an image I liked.  Once I found one, I just copied the image into a word document and stretched it to fit a regular sheet of paper.  I printed out several copies just in case I needed more than one for the layers (as in the second hoodie).  Then, I taped my image on top of my freezer paper and cut out the image (remember, when you're stenciling you need the negative image, so keep the outside of the image intact).  You can use scissors but for the more detailed images and the letters I found I liked using my razor pen best.

I won't go into too much detail about freezer paper stenciling, because there are SOOOOO many wonderful tutorials out there, but here are a couple of tips I've discovered that seem to work well:

* Be willing to layer your image with more than one color and texture.  For instance, perhaps a word could be cut out of fabric instead of just stenciled.  It adds a nice finished touch.  (Like the Hawaiian shirt I did for my dad last year)

* When you're ironing on the freezer paper, it's best to do this on a hard surface.  An ironing board usually has some padding, and I've found it's harder to insure that all the edges of your paper are adhering to the fabric if you iron it on the ironing board.  A hard kitchen table works better.

* Take the time to work in stages.  Your first layer of fabric paint should be fairly thin so it doesn't run under the stencil by accident.  Once you've applied your first layer there's not much danger of the paint seeping.
* Dry your paint quickly with a blow dryer.  If you're patient, you can just let the shirt sit for a few hours until it's dry before starting the next layer, but I'm not patient (at all) and topping off the paint with a heated blow dryer works in a few minutes and you're ready to add the next layer.  (BEWARE!  Don't do this if you are using a puffy paint or an outline, as it can splatter.  Only do this for brushed on paints).

Have fun with it, and if you do decide to try this, I'd love to see what you come up with!