How to make your own silhouette shirts

October 5, 2011 at 5:18 pm 2 comments

I got this idea from one of my instructors who had done this for another teacher at my studio.  This is a great way to make your own professional-looking shirts, and they make awesome gifts.  The original instructions can be found here.


shirt, fabric paint, freezer paper, magazine or cardboard, paintbrush, pen or pencil, X-Acto knife, tape, iron, and a printed photo (on computer paper is best) of what you want on the shirt 

1.  Tear off a piece of freezer paper large enough to cover your photo, and tape both the photo and the freezer paper to a window with the freezer paper on top (coated side down).  Trace over the image with a pen or pencil.

2.  Place the freezer paper with the traced image on a magazine or piece of cardboard.  Slowly cut out the image with an X-Acto knife, being careful around the more detailed areas (like fingers).  The paper around the cut-out will be your stencil.  If your image is somewhat complicated in that you have spaces inside the cut-out that you don’t want painted over (like in mine), you may have to freehand those later.

3.  Place the magazine or cardboard inside the shirt behind the area to be painted, and place the stencil on top of your shirt (coated side down) where you want the design to go.  Iron it onto the shirt, making sure that the edges of the design are all sealed to the shirt.  This will keep paint from seeping underneath the paper outside of the edges of the stencil.

4.  Paint the area inside the stencil.  You may have to freehand some areas if there are spaces inside the stencil that need to be left blank.  If you’re painting a light color onto a dark shirt, you may have to let the design dry and go over it with the paint a few more times.

5.  Let the paint dry overnight before peeling off the freezer paper.  If there are any areas where the paint seeped underneath the paper, you may need to get a little creative and “doctor” those edges with more paint to make the lines smooth.  Before washing the shirt, turn it inside out to make the design last longer.

Here’s another design I made:

Have fun!!!


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. leendadll  |  October 5, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Or you could just use clip art to design, customize and order it at any of a billion custom tshirt sites. more expensive but nearly zero effort.

    • 2. Holly  |  October 5, 2011 at 10:21 pm

      Very true. But I felt like getting crafty, and plus you can get t-shirts at Michaels art supply store (if you have one in your area) for about $3, which is SUPER cheap. And a small bottle of fabric paint is less than a dollar. It all just depends on how much effort you want to put into it, how personalized you want it to be, and how much money you want to save. And now that I’ve already worked through the process, repeating it in the future will be a cinch. 🙂


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