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Make Your Own DIY Flag Shirt {Tutorial}

I love Memorial Day! Most importantly it is a day to celebrate those who serve or have served for our country. It is also the day that we got engaged last year :) And last, around here at the Jersey Shore it is the official start of the summer season– that means the beaches, boardwalks and rides are open for the summer (which is even more meaningful this year considering Hurricane Sandy wiped everything away– surprisingly, they worked around the clock to get everything open this weekend!)
For many people, Memorial day means celebrating with family and friends, and lots of patriotic decorations!
My family will be celebrating this Memorial day with our annual family tradition of visiting Hersheypark and Lancaster, PA, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still sport the red, white and blue. I decided I wanted to make a flag shirt to wear, but I didn’t want it to be an “in your face” design, but rather a subtle, faded look.
Read on to find out how to make your own DIY Flag Shirt!

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You’ll need:
Cotton tshirt (or tank top, long sleeve shirt, etc)
Contact paper (or freezer paper– more information below!)
Craft paint- red, blue and a textile medium
Spray bottles (check the travel section of your local store)
Newspaper

**Warning** this is an outside job! No matter how neat you are, the paint will spray everywhere- find a nice, open outdoor area away from anything that might get some overspray on it. I did it in the grass in the back yard, and even then, it looked like a crime scene when I was done! (Nothing that a little lawn mowing or a good rain won’t take care of though).

1. First, prepare your stencils. I used contact paper, because I have a lot of it on hand, but freezer paper is a nice alternative. Read my tutorial here on how to use freezer paper as a stencil.
I cut strips 2 inches wide by half the width of my t-shirt to form the stripes part of the shirt, and then I free-handed about 12 stars of varying shapes and sizes for the stars part of the shirt. If you want to be more exacting you could always print out star shaped clip art and use that as a template for a perfect star shape.

2. Then, arrange and stick on (or iron on if you are using freezer paper) your stencils. According to proper flag etiquette, the blue portion of the flag should appear to the left of someone who is viewing it, so I put the stars on the left and the stripes on the right.

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3. Next, slide some newspaper into your shirt (and don’t forget the sleeves!) This will prevent the paint from seeping through to the back.

4. Now that your shirt is prepared, get your paint ready. I know that there are many brands of spray on tye-dye dyes that I could have used, but I wanted a vintage look, so I went with a different method. In two different spray bottles, I put about a half an ounce of water (in each), and then squeezed in about a teaspoon of textile medium (in each). In one bottle, I then squeezed in about a teaspoon of red paint and in the other bottle, I squeezed in a teaspoon of blue paint. Then…. SHAKE! And shake some more. You want it to be thoroughly mixed. Consider it your arm workout for the day!
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5. Gather everything, and head outside! You’ll want to bring out some more newspaper and you’re probably going to want to kick off those shoes, especially if there’s a breeze. (My feet had a nice speckling of red and blue by the time that I was done, but then again, we live near the water, and there’s always a breeze). Take your newspaper and lay it over the half of the shirt you don’t want to get overspray on. I started with blue, so I laid down the newspaper (and some rocks to hold it down) over the red part.
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6. After everything is set, carefully spray your shirt. I stood back about 3 feet so that it was more of a “mist” over the shirt rather than a soaking spray. I was going for a faded, vintage look, so this worked for me. If you want more solid color, you can stand closer and soak the shirt a little bit more.
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7. Let it dry for a few minutes and then switch your newspaper to the other side, and spray down the right side with red.
Remove the newspaper, and let it sit out to dry (it was hot and humid the day I did it- mine dried in under a half hour!)
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8. Finally, remove your stencil pieces and hand wash the shirt. I hand washed mine in the sink to make sure the paint had set (none of my paint bled out, so it should be safe to wash with other clothes from now on), and put it in the dryer to soften it.

9. Wear your shirt with pride!

I’m thinking of adding some wording to the back, maybe the Air Force logo, or the words “home of the free”. What do you think? Any ideas?

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4 thoughts on “Make Your Own DIY Flag Shirt {Tutorial}

  1. Pingback: Flag Shirt |

  2. Megin

    Dana
    Too cute! I love this faded flag shirt. I’ve been thinking of making one myself and this a great tutorial! I love the newspaper man you used and the rocks ~ too funny!!
    Thanks for sharing at DIY Showcase last week!
    ~ Megin of VMG206

    Reply
  3. Pingback: 4th of July Patriotic Craft/Recipe Round Up

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