DIY Tee Design With DecoArt Fabric Paints

DIY Tee Design - Offbeat & Inspired

In case you haven’t realized it by now, I’m a huge fan of upcycling. If it can be purchased, it can be made — and if it can be made, there’s a chance you already have the tools to do it at home. Of course this isn’t always the case, but in my experience I rarely have to buy more than 1 or 2 things to complete a project. Either DIY-ing really is that resourceful, or I’m a hoarder. Whichever way you look at it, making stuff from what you already have in the house is awesome. As a result of my (possible) hoarder-like tendencies, I have a collection of blank fitted tees that I knew would be perfect candidates for a little design upgrade.

DIY Tee Design - Offbeat & Inspired

The base tee I used is from Target, the pants are William Rast and the shoes are Diesel (via

I’ve wanted to try real fabric painting for a long time. By “real” I mean, not the kind you do for your annual Ugly Sweater Party. Though ugly sweaters are amazing, my goal with “real” fabric painting was to make something I could wear in public without inspiring points and giggles. When I got the chance to try out DecoArt‘s line of SoSoft Fabric Paints, I was pretty psyched. I decided to make a super simple print that would provide a good quality-test and also be wearable. I’ll tell you right now, I love these paints. There won’t be a blank shirt left in this house by the end of the month.

Now let’s make a boring tee pretty!

What You Need

– a blank tee
– fabric paints in your choice of colors (I used a mix of SoSoft Paints in Primary Yellow, White and Brown, and SoSoft Fine Glitter in Gold Glitz)
– Scotch tape
– a flat paint brush large enough to make the job easier, but small enough not to make a mess!
– a cup of water to clean the brush between colors
– cardboard or paper plates to use as your palette for mixing paints
– an old rag to wipe your brush on when you need to soak up excess paint or water (I just used an old tee)
– a piece of cardboard to place inside your tee because the paints will soak through the fabric during application

DIY Tee Design - Offbeat & Inspired

1. Place the cardboard inside your tee and lay it flat on a large workspace. Use scotch tape to make evenly spaced horizontal rows all the way down the shirt, then apply more tape diagonally so that you have rows of triangles. Be sure that the edges of each triangle come to a point. If a piece of tape is causing some of your “points” to be flat, simply snip out the corner with a pair of scissors.

DIY Tee Design - Offbeat & Inspired

2. Mix your paints! I wanted to do a slight gradient or ombre that went from light to dark in the middle and then back to light at the bottom hem. To do this, I mixed a light beige, then for each descending row I added more brown until I got to the center. Below that, I added more white until I got to the bottom hem. I mixed in a gold glitter to add some dimension to the neutral tones.

DIY Tee Design - Offbeat & InspiredDIY Tee Design - Offbeat & Inspired

3. Once all of your triangles are painted, let them dry for half an hour.

DIY Tee Design - Offbeat & Inspired

4. After about 30 minutes the paints will still be damp. You can let them dry longer, but I was really impatient and wanted to get the tape off, so at this point it IS safe to remove the tape without ruining the design but you have to be careful! Gently pull the tape back from each row until all of it is removed.

DIY Tee Design - Offbeat & Inspired

5. The instructions on the bottles say to let the paint dry for 48 hours and then wash the shirt inside out before wearing, but I did a test shirt the night before I made this one and only let the paints dry for about 12 hours before washing and they looked perfect. This might have something to do with temperatures and humidity though, so to be safe I would recommend following their instructions. If you’re as impatient as I am, hang your tee and let it dry overnight, wash it in the morning and enjoy sporting your spankin’ new tee design!

DIY Tee Design - Offbeat & Inspired

Have you done fabric painting before? Is this a project you’ll want to try out?

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