Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cricut T-Shirts Made with Freezer Paper Stencils - Tips and Questions

One of my very favorite things that I've done with my Cricut Expression since I got it is using it to cut stencils for t-shirt painting. The shirt on the left is an example of one I recently finished. (My daughter's BF is on the school's cross country running team.) I've made several so far and learn something new each time I do it. I still have lots of questions though (below), can anyone help?

The Basic Steps:
1) Cut out your design using your Cricut onto freezer paper.
2) Iron freezer paper to t-shirt.
3) Paint shirt.
4) Let dry, remove stencil.

That's it! Of course, I've learned several things along the way. Here are some my tips so far. If anyone has any tips, please let me know. I've also found several blog posts and videos which are inspiring and informative, and I'll share those links as well.

My tips:

  • Double and triple-check your design before you cut. If you have text you need to make sure your words are flipped because you cut your design on the wrong side of the freezer paper. 
  • I learned that in SCAL you have to type your word backwards, then check the "flip" box in order to have it properly oriented. I believe this is resolved in SCAL 2 however (waiting for MAC release!!!)
  • Take the extra time to align your design on the t-shirt before you paint. I haven't worked out a good alignment method yet, but in the meantime I'm trying not to rush this step and just eyeballing it real good.
  • Use Tulip Soft fabric paint. It has a wonderful soft hand and great coverage. Since I'm new, I can't speak to how it holds up from repeated washings. But I love how opaque the paint is, even on dark colors. In the shirt above I used platinum metallic and white paint, on a black t-shirt, and you can see how nice it covers. I did use two coats (really only necessary for the white paint). Click on the close-up at left to see how nice the metallic paint looks.
  • Stock up on t-shirts at Michael's when they are on sale.
  • Allow time for the shirts to dry before removing stencil. This is the most important step in getting a professional clean look. I let the shirts dry overnight.
My Questions:
  • Has anyone used a transfer medium like vinyl transfer tape, magic mesh, or drywall tape to transfer the design? In the design above, it would have been very useful to use transfer tape because of the little tiny pieces in the word "Knights," but I think I would have had to cut it in vinyl because the design has to be flipped. Any thoughts on transfer tapes and their applications? Will using transfer tape help me when I have a design that must be cut in reverse and backwards - or must I use something that is cut in the same position in will be applied to the t-shirt?
  • Does anyone have experience layering multiple colors? I'm interested in tips on masking, layering and setting up registration points on the shirt.
Inspiring Projects
A list of blogs and videos I've found which either have nice projects or helpful information. Not all are cut with a Cricut.

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