Lots of things went through my mind when I heard I passed the WFTDA test. One of the first: SCRIMMAGE SHIRTS!
If you are not yet on a team, you'll soon learn that you need a handful of black and white tee shirts with your name and number to use for scrimmages. Always have at least one of each in your skate bag, because you never know when the spirit will move you.
We got some nice ones printed for us by our league, but I'm currently scraping the bottom of the barrel, so I couldn't afford more than one. With a little searching on the internet and a little improvisation, I figured out how to make my own for a fraction of the cost. At the suggestion of the lovely Short Temper, I thought I would share with you. Read on!
For this project you will need:
- a quilting or embroidery frame
- very sheer fabric
- fabric paint
- Mod Podge
- a blank cotton t-shirt
- a paintbrush capable of large detail
- a smooth sponge
1. Preparing your screen:
I bought the cheapest quilting hoop that I could find, which was a 99¢ job from the craft store. Make sure it is big enough: remember your number has to be at least four inches tall. (18.104.22.168) I got one big enough to easily fit an 8.5"x11" piece of paper.
For the sheer fabric, some sites recommended something like curtain fabric -- really anything will work as long as it is sheer enough to let paint bleed through. Unfortunately, none of the fabric stores were open, and I can be a little bit of an instant gratification kind of gal. I stopped in at a pharmacy and bought the biggest pair of pantyhose I could find.
If you are using hose, slice off the control top, it will snap a large wooden hoop like a toothpick. You'll be left with two elastic-less stockings. Separate the two parts of the hoop, and put the inner hoop into one of the legs of the hose. You have to do this part slowly because it will stretch the hose almost to breaking, and you don't want to break the hoop or get a run in the hose.
Place the outer hoop on over the inner hoop, tightening it so that you now have the hose stretched like a canvas, being anchored down on all sides by the hoop. Once it is good and tight, you can take a pair of scissors and slice one layer of the nylon so that you have only a single layer of mesh. (If all this seems inordinately difficult, I must explain that the first time I tried this, I sliced all the way down the leg of the stocking trying to create a flat piece of mesh, and then couldn't for the life of me stretch it over the hoop, wasting a chance at another stencil.)
2. Create the stencil:
Print or hand draw your name and number any way you like on paper. I used Microsoft Word and printed it out in my font of choice. Eco-bonus: if you make your font nice and big and bold, you can go into the font formatting screen and select "outline." This will save ink by printing only the outline of the letters, which is all you will need anyhow. Don't worry about having it all fit on one sheet of paper -- you will be able to fiddle with it when making the stencil. Remember, you really want the number to be big and clear.
You will transfer this image by placing it under the nylon and then tracing it with a pencil or a marker. Make sure that you place the hoop so that the nylon is totally flush with the page.
3. Get MOD!
With the paintbrush, paint around the negative space around the traced letters/numbers with Mod Podge (or theoretically Elmer's Glue), being sure to get all the details. If you are using a nice sheer fabric, this will be pretty easy. If you're using pantyhose, this may take some doing because the Mod Podge can slip through the holes. I was able to do it with several light coatings -- it works best to use a light hand and retouch if you need to rather than to glop it on heavily.
If you have fancy fabric ink, you will want to paint around ALL the negative space. If you are using fabric paint sponged on, you can just paint a reasonable amount around all the letters and numbers. When you let it dry, you should have a nice stencil. Don't forget the negative space inside your letters and numbers!
4. Start stippling!
Place your stencil over the t-shirt (make sure your t-shirt is mounted on cardboard to prevent bleed-through). If you are doing this fancy, you can take fabric ink and spread a thin layer over the entirety of the stencil. If you're doing it cheap, dip a smooth sponge in a small amount of fabric paint and stipple over the letters and numbers, making sure not to go outside the bounds of the Mod Podge. Work quickly and lightly - again, better to apply several thin coats than a thick, gloppy coat, but you don't want the paint to dry to your shirt because it will tug on or tear the nylon.
5. The reveal!
Once you have painted all the letters and numbers, carefully remove your screen from the t-shirt. Voila! Screen printed! Rinse, repeat!
Rinse your screen off immediately to keep the paint from drying. Mod Podge is actually pretty waterproof, so you can get in there and gently work the paint off the letters. This will prevent it from gunking up your stencil for later uses.