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July 1, 2014

stenciled t-shirt

It's confession time on the blog today. Let me start off by saying that I am a fairly normal person in most aspects of my life. I have a responsible job, pay my bills on time, & enjoy the modest & mature aspects of adulthood. But there's one thing that I still get childishly giddy about:

Sailor Moon. C'mon, you know you loved that show growing up. Don't hide it. Embrace it.

If you're a huge dork like me, then you know the Sailor Moon Reboot is happening July 5th (mark your calendars!). In honor of the return of the Pretty Soldier Senshi, I stenciled a shirt for the occasion, with the words "セーラームーン" (Sailor Moon) down the side. 

Even if you don't like cartoons about blond-headed super heroines who, against all odds, always manage to save the world with the power of love - you can still join in on the stenciling fun. This is one of the easiest ways I've found to change up a t-shirt (apart from cutting it up), & it only takes about a half an hour. The best part about this tutorial is getting to use supplies that you probably already have on hand. 

To stencil your own shirt, you'll need:

  • A cotton t-shirt
  • Acrylic paint
  • A foam brush
  • Wax paper
  • A sheet of printer paper
  • An x-acto knife
  • Masking tape
  • A cutting board
  • Cardboard
  • A stencil design on paper (or you could free-hand it)
  • A marker
  • Iron & ironing board
  • Hair dryer (optional)

First we'll transfer the design onto the wax paper. Tape your design in place on your cutting board, then tape the wax paper in place on top. Trace around the shape of your design. If you're doing your design free-hand, draw your design directly onto the wax paper. If you don't have any ideas as to what to stencil, a quick search of stencil designs can help you out. 

Next, cut out your design using the x-acto knife. Now your stencil is ready to use. 

Place your cardboard inside your shirt under the area you're going to be stenciling. This will keep paint from getting transferred to the back of your shirt. With your t-shirt flat but not stretched out, lay your stencil on top & tape in place. I used a small bit of tape on the underside of the areas of my stencil that had more movement.

[Side note // If you want your stencil to come out crisp, use a layer of washable spray adhesive on the wrong side of your stencil before you lay it down. This will require you to wash the shirt before moving onto the ironing step, which may result in a slightly faded design.]

While holding your stencil in place, use a foam brush to dab your acrylic paint over the negative areas of your stencil. Use a thin layer of paint - thick paint will crack more easily once the design has dried. I'm mixing color as I go for a gradient effect. 

Let your design dry. A hair dryer can speed up this process if you're impatient (like me).

After your design has completely dried, take it to the ironing board, & set your iron to the cotton/high setting. Place a sheet of printer paper in-between the iron & your design, & iron in a circular manner. This heat-sets the design. 

Take the cardboard out of your t-shirt, & turn it inside out. Put in in the dryer on medium heat for 10-15 minutes to further heat-set the design. Your t-shirt is now ready to wear, wash, & wear again & again!

Now I'm geared up & ready to watch the Sailor Moon reboot in style. Who was your favorite childhood superhero? 


Related // Turn a t-shirt into a bag.


  1. Mary, it is hard to explain how much I love this. I am a huge sailor moon fan and am dying for the reboot to come out! My favorite sailor was a tie between Sailor Saturn and Sailor Mars. I hadn't even considered crafting for the release. I used to make my own tiaras out of paper constantly as a kid.

    1. We would have been excellent childhood friends. I used to make Sailor Scout outfits for my Barbie dolls.

  2. This is such a great tutorial! Never thought to use the iron to set in the design - now I just have to try it out. So for the reboot, I made an amigurumi Sailor Moon and a crystal star brooch...had them with me when I watched the first episode hehe. I loved Sailor Mercury, I think it was her short hair (I had short hair like her at the time).


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