Upcycled Bleached and Painted T-shirts – My 1st Cricut Projects

6 materials
$4
2 Hours
Easy

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If you saw my last post then you know I recently purchased the Cricut Maker cutting machine. I have really enjoyed playing with it. We (me and the machine that is) are still getting acquainted, but so far it has been a pretty user-friendly experience. And I have already had success with my first few t-shirt projects. So in today’s post, I will share the basic process to make these t-shirts.


You can use this technique even without a cutting machine if you are patient enough to cut your templates by hand. I have done some stenciling before but I have never used the freezer paper which I have to say was quite easy and effective.


Here is a brief overview of the process if you would like more detail you can check out the video tutorial at the end of this post.


Step 1 – Choose or design your artwork. As you know I like to recycle and reuse so I made this art in Adobe Illustrator and then uploaded it to Cricut Design Space to cut. If anyone is interested in more details on how to design art in illustrator for the Cricut Machines let me know cuz I pretty much skipped over that part.

Step 2 – Cut art design from freezer paper by hand or on a Cricut cutting machine. Note if you are using freezer paper with a cutting machine the shiny side of the paper should be facing up on the cutting mat which means that the image you are cutting should be flipped when you do the cutting. Here is what the project looks like in the Cricut Design Space.

Step 3 – Prepare your t-shirt(s). I am using second-hand t-shirts because I like to reuse things so I washed and dried the shirts. You can also press the shirts to make sure the surface you are working on is flat and smooth.


Step 4 – Apply the freezer paper template with the shiny side down to the t-shirts using an iron. I like to work with two shirts at a time so the I can use the positive and the negative versions of the artwork.


If you are working with the mat and cutting machine you will want a weeding too l to remove the pieces of cut freezer paper one at a time from the cutting mat. There is a lot more detail on this process in the video including the use of the clover mini iron to assist in attaching the small pieces of freezer paper to the shirts. The main thing to note is that this step takes a little time and patience.

Once you have both templates applied your shirts will look similar to these two shirts. One with a positive version of the art and one with a negative version.

Steps 5 and 6 – are to bleach one version and paint the other. For both of my shirts, I used something inside the shirt (bubble wrap and cardboard) to protect the back of the shirt from the bleach and the paint. For the bleach version, it is best to use a dark-colored shirt with 100% cotton content. Spray on the bleach and wait a few minutes until the shirt starts to fade. Once the shirt is faded to the desired level dunk the entire shirt in cold water and peel off the freezer paper template.

For the painted version select your paint color and use a soft brush to apply the paint. Add additional coats as needed. Once the paint is dry carefully remove the freezer paper template.

Here are some other t-shirt designs I made using my dogs for the inspiration. In case you don’t already know we have four of them. 🙂


I started with some photographs and then made them into silhouettes.


Number 1 and 2 Dogs

Number 3 and 4 Dogs

Here is the finished design in Cricut Design Space.

And the finished shirts.

As you can see the possibilities are limitless. I hope you have found a little inspiration here. Check out the video below for more details.

Thanks for stopping by. I can’t stop making stuff so you can find these t-shirts for sale in my eBay Store.


Happy Upcycling,

Advertising Disclosure: Upcycle Design Lab may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website


Some of my favorite go to crafting tools.

Suggested materials:

  • Cricut Maker Cutting Machine   (Cricut)
  • Freezer Paper   (Grocery Store)
  • Iron   (Home Goods Store)
See all materials
Cindy @ Upcycle Design Lab
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