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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Spray Paint Shirt

Teaching high school, I see lots of puffy-paint shirts the students make for various sports and activities.  While the puffy-paint shirts can be fun, they take forever to dry, and sometimes take a long time to make.

A couple years ago, I came up with this idea for a quick way to make team shirts that would dry quickly as well.  They are fun to make for team-bonding, or could be fun for a party activity.

Here's what you will need:
  • spray paint
  • t-shirt(s)
  • cardboard letter cutouts (I found mine in the craft aisle at Walmart)
  • a flat surface (and maybe a drop cloth, tarp, or newspaper if you don't want paint all over)
First, lay out your t-shirt.  Try to get out all wrinkles and get as flat as possible.  The more flat your shirt is, the better your letters will turn out.  You may notice that I have some seepage of paint around the wrinkle.

Place your letter cutouts on the shirt.  I have used both the letters themselves and the outlines before.  Remember that if you use the letters themselves, it will create the negative space to look like the letters; this leaves less of the shirt its original color.  If you use the letter outlines, it will color the letters and outline the rectangles the color of the paint; I think this creates a more bold look.

Spray over the letters until the shirt reaches the desired color.  You don't want to spray too heavy, or it will leave the shirt crusty, and can bleed through. 

Pull off the cardboard and let dry.  After about 20-30 minutes, they should be dry to the touch, and you can move them.

Tips & Tricks
  • The thinner the cardboard you use, the more quickly it will get wet and warp.  I recommend trying to do all of your shirts at once, and throwing out the used letters.
  • I have used the kid's craft foam to cut letters and different shapes before.  This also works well, but is more work up front.  These also do not last for too many uses before warping.
  • Spray in a well-ventilated area.
  • Spray paint travels.  Be sure that you spray in an area where it will not matter if the paint molecules attach themselves nearby.
  • Let one side of the shirt dry completely before spraying the other side.
  • I wash and dry mine like any other t-shirt.


  1. What a cool idea! I'm visiting from Sugar Bee!

  2. I saw this over at Sugar bee and went, I went to a high school with GMHS! Small world, after reading your About Me it's the same one. Love the project, so easy!

  3. Oh how fun! Looks great! I am featuring this at the party tonight!

  4. Will the spray paint still look good after a few spins in the wash? I was thinking about doing this next year for my kindergarten class's field trip tshirts!


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