Sharpie T-Shirt Design 101

Those who know me know I’m not afraid to wear ugly t-shirts. In particular I’m thinking of the gold-sparkles-on-blue Mr. Sparkle tee I made for a friend’s party. But I’m not apt to put the effort into making these shirts unless I have a compelling reason to wear them. So, when I heard there was an anime convention coming to town I decided that since everyone else was probably going to be in ridiculous cosplay, I might as well make an effort to wear something unique and interesting. Also cheap. That was important.
What I ended up with was a custom one-of-a-kind Sharpie-based t-shirt. Let me take you through the process:
It began with a t-shirt. 15$ at Old Navy for a plain orange tee:
The orange tee shirt
After that I had to pick a design. I wanted something original and a joke only select people would understand. I decided on this.
Next, I taped a piece of paper to the shirt where I wanted the image to go:
Taping paper to the tee
I needed to put some cardboard inside the t-shirt to get a nice flat canvas to work on. I couldn’t find any cardboard so I used an old Abba record [note: the marker will go through the shirt! Don’t use anything you don’t mind damaging.]

I lined up the paper in the centre of the cardboard-backed canvas and then removed the paper. With the tee held tight against the cardboard I set up my tracing system. I used a projector to shine the image onto the tee:

After that the tracing began. What I learned is that no matter what the shirt never seems to be tight enough to form a proper canvas. You have to be careful not to pull the shirt with the sharpie and mess up your design. The Sharpie is obviously permanent so don’t mess it up. Go slow. It can be done as evidenced by this:

It’s not perfect. The edges are not very crisp, but it’s good enough as far as I’m concerned. I let the sharpie ink dry for 15 minutes and then removed the cardboard. Looks good so far!

Finally I put the tee in the dryer for 15 minutes to let it dry some more. After that I considered it done. I haven’t washed it yet, and it still smells like sharpie but not much. I’m not sure if it’ll fade or bleed after washing, so I’ll definitely wash it on its own the first time, but I have a feeling it’ll be pretty permanent.
In conclusion: the sharpie t-shirt experiment… GREAT SUCCESS!!