So money is tight, and increasingly we rely on hand-me-downs, garage sales, Goodwill treasures, and creativity to fill our needs. My oldest is currently obsessed with Astro Boy and so I was inspired to try out a new technique using materials that were already in my possession: freezer paper, fabric paint, a plain t-shirt, an iron, and the patience to wait for paint to dry.
STEP 1: Find an image that you want to use and trace it onto the matte side of a piece of freezer paper (so put it shiny/plastic side DOWN). I used a lightbox to help me trace but you don't need one if you have enough light.
STEP 2: Using an Xacto knife, carefully cut out the outline of your stencil, and keep any inner detail bits that you'll want to add back in.
STEP 3: Place your t-shirt (or other fabric of your choice) onto your ironing board, place a piece of blank freezer paper inside behind where your image will go (plastic side UP) and lay out your stencil in the position you want it on the shirt. (The reason for the paper inside the shirt is so that it will adhere to the fabric as well and give you a more slip-proof surface on which to paint). Iron it down with your DRY (no steam) iron set on whatever type of fabric you have (I used the cotton setting). This will temporarily adhere the freezer paper to your fabric. Once you have the large outline stencil stuck down, you can take your time laying out the individual detail pieces and ironing them down one at a time. It's better to use a pressing motion with your iron, rather than a traditional back and forth motion which could pull up your stencil edges.
STEP 4: Take a dry brush and, using a stippling motion, fill in your stencil with the fabric paint color of your choosing. Here I used white and ended up putting two coats on. Try not to drag your paintbrush across the fabric so that you don't inadvertently pull up an edge and cause bleeding along your outline.
STEP 5: Wait for paint to dry overnight. This is, by far, the hardest step of all. In fact, it nearly drove me mad...but I persevered and it paid off. The next morning, peel off your freezer paper very carefully. The small detail bits may need a little help from the tip of your Xacto knife to get them off.
STEP 6: Follow your paint's instructions as to how to heat set your image once you're all done. Some you can just throw into the wash (inside out) after 72 hours, some require you to heat set them with a hot iron...make sure you follow their specific directions.
STEP 7: Enjoy the smile on your little one's face when you present them with a custom made shirt with their (current) hero on it. :)