February 17, 2010

our custom tees

Once upon a time I was looking for a crafty camping project...
Somewhere on the Internet I found the "recipe" for what would become our traditional camping craft. T-shirt souvenirs... custom made by us.
The original recipe called for a mostly cotton tee, a spray bottle, some bleach and some lovely treasures plucked right from nature. The kids went out on a nature hike and came back with bags of items... and while I was expecting all sorts of shapes of leaves and flowers, what I found in the depths of those bags were mostly sticks and rocks.
On our next trip... I collected the treasures... at Walmart. A box of foam stick on letters. It was the perfect addition to the original recipe!

So, here is the how-to...
-Choose plain t-shirts that are mostly cotton. It is better to wash & dry it first.
-Find a spray bottle... one that mists instead of streams. I use an old hairspray bottle.
-Bleach. It goes in the spray bottle. I add a little water to dilute it... but not too much. Maybe 4:1?
-Foamie stick-on letters... or any other shapes you might like! (the box of letters was maybe $8)
-You can add some items from nature if you want... but this doesn't have to be just a camping craft! Our Valentine shirts are nature-free.

Once you have gathered all of your supplies, lay out your shirt and get creative! If you are camping, then no table cloth is really needed... but if you are on your back porch, you might want to cover the table with a vinyl table cloth. Make sure the foamie shapes are fully pressed down into the shirt... so the bleach cannot seep under them.

Once your design has been laid out and stuck down, it is time to spray it with the bleach. Try not to soak the shirt... but it takes more than a mist, too. It is kind of fun to watch the bleach in action. The longer you leave the bleach on, the more dramatic the color difference will be. Once the shirt has faded to your liking, peel off the foamie letters or shapes. They will probably be a little puddled with bleach, so be careful!

Next step... rinse your shirt with cold water and wring. Toss it in the dryer or hang it to dry and... voila!

This is really a favorite for our family and the friends we camp with. Even the adults have joined in the fun on the last few trips... even if it means pulling a shirt out of the duffle bag on the spur of the moment. We have had times when the shirts did not work. We have blamed it on not enough cotton in the shirt, or the shirt being too thin. We have blamed it on too much bleach, or the sizing in the shirt that didn't make it porous enough to absorb the bleach (which is why we try to wash them first now.)

I hope you'll give this really easy craft a try!
(and Jennifer Juniper had some great tee ideas, too!)


Pam said...

That is soo cool! I was wondering how you did it. Love it! : )

Jen said...

Oh thank you! I would never have guessed that's how it was done.
Bleach can be scary for me-I usually get a splash of it on an innocent victim.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Very crafty and CUTE!

Anonymous said...

Very cool.

I think even I could handle this one.

kim said...

The Girl Scout leader in me LOVES this!!

Cassie said...

I'm not much of a crafty person,especially since I have no little ones at home, but this looks like something the little Mr. and I could do for fun! We wear matching shirts all the time, so could add a homemade one to the collection. Thanks sweetie!

ps-I can not believe how much your son resembles you when you were a youngster. Cute kiddo!

jenn said...

love it! the kids will too when we go on our first camping trip in May!! Yeah!!

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