Bleached Canvas Art T-Shirt Upcycle

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Looking for an easy way to decorate empty walls? You can create easy artwork by stretching a T-shirt over a blank canvas. Put your favorite old tees on display for a retro theme, or grab a bright shirt and spray bottle of bleach to design something brand new.
1 T-shirt
Freezer paper
1–2 ounces of liquid chlorine bleach in a spray bottle
Masking tape
1 (12" × 18") stretched canvas
Staple gun
Excerpted from DIY T-Shirt Crafts: From Braided Bracelets to Floor Pillows, 50 Unexpected Ways to Recycle Your Old T-Shirts by Adrianne Surian. Used by permission.

Step 1

Use your scissors to cut a 14" × 20" panel from the body of your T-shirt. This will allow 1" on each side to stretch and staple to your canvas. If you’re using any other size of canvas, you can simply lay it out on your T-shirt and cut an extra 1" along each side.

Step 2

Draw or trace a quote or design onto the unwaxed side of the freezer paper, then use your scissors to cut out what you just drew. If you have an electronic or manual cutting machine, you can also die-cut the paper. Note that when using bleach, basic designs and big block letters work best. Lay your design out on the T-shirt fabric (wax side facing down) and when you’re happy with how it looks, iron the letters or design onto the shirt panel to create an instant, temporary stencil to aid in your design!

Step 3

Tape your panel to a vertical surface and spray it with bleach. It is best if you can do this step outside, or even in a space that’s easy to wipe down, like the inside of your shower. Be very careful not to get the bleach on yourself, your clothing, your upholstery, or any other fibers, or you will bleach them, too. A little goes a long way, so spray from a distance, and wait a minute between sprays to allow the fabric to lighten up. Don’t soak the fabric, especially near your paper stencil, because it can easily seep under the edges and blur your design. You should only need 2 or 3 sprays of bleach to cover the whole area. If you want the bleached areas to be lighter, allow the shirt to dry for at least 30 minutes before giving them a second pass, because bleached areas will continue to lighten as they dry.

Step 4

Allow your shirt to dry, remove it from the panel or wall, then peel off the stencil(s) and remove the masking tape. You may find that it begins to peel on its own as it dries, and that’s fine. It’s a temporary bond, which makes it easy to remove, and it also leaves no residue behind.

Step 5

Wrap your shirt panel around the canvas, stretching it evenly and tightly. Staple the edge to the frame every few inches.

Step 6

When you get to the corners, fold the shirt just as you would if you were wrapping a gift, and secure the wrap with a couple of staples. The key is keeping tension on the fabric so that it wraps neatly.

Step 7

T-Shirt Tips!
You can make T-shirt artwork using any size canvas! If you’re using a shirt that already has a design, you can match the canvas size to the shirt. When you cut the panel from your shirt, just add 2" to both the length and the width to allow for stretching and stapling it to your frame.

Step 8

Excerpted from DIY T-Shirt Crafts: From Braided Bracelets to Floor Pillows, 50 Unexpected Ways to Recycle Your Old T-Shirts by Adrianne Surian. Copyright © 2015 F+W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. Photographs by Adrianne Surian.

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