Do you know how to write on t-shirts? Of course, anyone can just take a Sharpie and go to town on whatever shirt they have lying around their house. But whatever you write on the shirt will surely turn into an ugly smudge after a single wash.
This guide will teach you the things that you can do to ensure that whatever you draw on your shirt will stay there. Don’t worry. You would not be needing any fancy tools or materials. You will not also be spending a lot. What you can expect is that you will be having so much fun with this activity.
What to Prepare:
- T-shirt – You can use a plain, single-color shirt, or one that already has prints on it that you want to add more to.
- Ink markers – You can use regular ink markers, but ones that are specifically made for writing on fabric are better.
- Electric iron – A regular flat iron will do, you will not be using steam anyway.
- Scrap paper – Any kind of paper or cardboard will do, if you have parchment paper then that would be best.
- Fixative and clear fabric paint – These are optional, but they will help set the prints better.
Step 1 – Pick the Right Markers
What kind of design are you making? Are you planning to write words or do you want to draw on the shirt? This is important since you will need to choose the right size tips for the effects that you are looking to achieve. You will also be choosing the colors.
For this project, you can use regular ink markers. However, regular ink tends to fade even when you set it, so you should use markers specifically made for writing on fabrics.
On the other hand, if you want to put a splash of color on your shirts, consider using acrylic pens instead. However, acrylic paint needs some time to dry before you can set it using an iron.
Step 2 – Prepare the Shirt
If you will be using a brand-new shirt, wash it first using a regular wash cycle. This will make the ink from the markers hold onto the fabric better.
Almost all new shirts come with a chemical coating called “sizing” that prevents the fabric from getting stained. If you do not wash the sizing off, the ink from the markers will easily smudge and fade. Washing will also make the fabric easier to write on.
After washing and drying the shirt, place a sheet of cardboard roughly the same width as the shirt inside it. This will prevent the ink from the markers from bleeding through the front of the shirt and into the back.
You can use sheets of paper as well. Just make sure to use several layers. However, you should not use newspaper as the ink from the newspaper might transfer onto the fabric later.
You should then stretch the shirt over a big and flat writing surface. The tighter you can stretch the shirt without overstretching it, the easier it would be to write on. Just laying it on the table might make the fabric gather while you are writing, which would ruin your design.
Step 3 – Proceed to Draw Your Design
You can now do whatever design you would like to have on your shirt. You don’t need fancy techniques to learn how to write on t-shirts. You write your designs freehand, or you can use a stencil if you want. How to write on leather is a different thing, though.
To make it easier, you can use a tailor’s chalk pencil to sketch your design on the t-shirt before laying down the ink. This will also allow you to check the placement of the design if it is in the right position. Don’t worry. The tailor’s chalk will wash off easily since that is what they are designed for.
You can also use different color inks. If you want the colors to pop out, instead of using regular ink markers, use acrylic ink markers. You can also use acrylic paint pens to give your designs a splash of color.
Step 4 – Set the Ink
You can set the ink design using two ways. First, turn the shirt inside out. Place a couple of sheets of paper over the design, and another one on the reverse side. This will prevent the color from transferring to the flat iron later.
Take a flat iron and set it on high. Carefully iron the paper using a gradual back and forth motion for around five minutes. Turn the shirt inside out again and repeat the process on the outside of the shirt.
You can also use a bit of clear fabric paint to set the design permanently on the shirt. You can find this material in most fabric stores.
Step 5 – Wash the Shirt Carefully
Even though the ironing should have set the ink properly, it might loosen the ink if you put it through a rough wash cycle too soon. So, for the first couple of washes, use a mild detergent and a light wash cycle only.
- Write on completely dry shirts only – If the shirt is wet or damp, the ink will bleed through the fabric.
- Place the shirt on a flat surface and make sure to stretch the shirt as much as possible – This will make it easier to write on the shirt since the fabric won’t gather.
- Even when using a fabric ink marker, you should iron the design to make it set better.
It is quite easy to learn how to write on t-shirts. There are no complicated techniques to learn, and you will only be using simple tools and materials.
It can be a bit tricky for the first couple of times, but you will get the hang of it eventually. Also, once you start, you will get hooked.