Saturday, August 28, 2010


Okay, so we all know that Tim Holtz Masks, Ideaology, Alterations and Grungeboard items are nothing short of genius! We use them all the time to embellish tags, scrapbook pages and altered pieces. Have you ever thought about the possibilities of using them say.............on a T-shirt?!?!

Here is an easy step by step tutorial on how to make a really cool altered shirt. I will warn you though, it's addicting! With each new shirt comes a cooler idea or a new element you will think of to add to your design.


The designs are as endless as your imagination will take you!

Begin by assembling all of your supplies:
  • A 100% cotton T-shirt: dark colors work the best, especially black

  • A shirt form or something to lay in between the front and back layers of your shirt

  • A work surface that will tolerate bleach

  • All of the Tim stuff you can get your hands on to use as "masks". Actually, you can use anything that lays fairly flat and will tolerate bleach and vinegar. I am partial to Tim's pieces because they work so perfectly.

  • Laces with larger patterns, large netting, buttons with big holes, plastic and/or metal objects, chains and all sorts of other things will work.

You will also need straight bleach and straight vinegar (I use white vinegar), spray bottles set to the mist setting and a bowl with water in it. You will see why the water bowl is important soon.

Working on a bleach tolerant surface, place the shirt form or some sort of barrier between the front and back of the shirt. (This will keep the bleach from soaking through to the back). Lay the shirt flat on the work surface and lay out your design. I usually lay the large netting down first then place the other elements over the top of it. You can also "build" mini designs within your layout. An example of this is the butterfly. It consists of a rectangular plate from Tim's Ornate Plates, wings from his Grungeboard Elements, a small game spinner from his Ideaology Game Spinners, and an artist's pen point for the head of the butterfly. Another example of a mini design can be seen on the upper left shoulder. I have combined the Filmstrip Frames from Tim's Alterations with the star, crown and Fleur D' Les from Tim's Ideaology Adornments. Here is the layout of my "Imagine Shirt". Except for the lace, netting, artist's pen point and two little clock hands, this entire layout is Tim Holtz' pieces.

If you want to add what I call "starbursts" to your shirt, simply gather up material and wrap a rubber band around it to secure it in place. The folds will produce some really cool effects after they are sprayed.

Once you are happy with your design and you are sure it is laying as flat as possible, get your bleach spray bottle. Hold it approximately 12 to 14 inches away from the shirt and lightly spray directly down over the elements. You don't need to saturate it...just a light mist. Within a few seconds, you will begin to see the bleach reacting on the shirt. If you want areas on the shirt to remain black, don't spray there. But, remember, in order to achieve a mask effect,
you have to spray bleach around the elements laid out.

If you want larger blotches on the shirt, hold the spray nozzle over that area and gently pull back on the trigger of the bottle, letting the bleach trickle out of the spray nozzle onto the shirt. Some shirts turn brownish, some turn just depends on the shirt. The end result will still be a slightly different color than what you think it will be.

When you are happy with your bleach effect, begin taking the elements off of the shirt and place them into the bowl of water to rinse them off. I do not put my Grungeboard into the water to soak but I do swish it in the water to rinse it off and then I lay it to the side to dry. (I have used my Grungeboard pieces to make lots of shirts and they are still as good as new! That stuff is amazing!!!) Remove all elements from the shirt. This picture shows you how the design will appear as you are taking the elements off of the shirt.

Here is the shirt with all of the elements removed. Lightly spray the front completely with vinegar. This stops the bleaching action. If you do not want to bleach the back of the shirt, remove it from the shirt form and lay it out to dry for a few minutes.

If you want to bleach out the back of the shirt, turn the shirt over......

Repeat the process you did on the front of the shirt. On this shirt, I just wanted some netting and some blotches on the back of the shirt.

I laid out the netting, lightly sprayed the back with bleach-leaving some areas to be blacker than others, dribbled bleach to make some blotches, let the bleach begin to work, removed the netting and when I was happy with the bleach effect, I lightly sprayed the back with vinegar to stop the bleaching action. I removed it from the shirt form and laid it out to dry for a few minutes.

Here is the back of my shirt.

Once you are finished with making your shirt, allow it to dry for a short time; maybe as little as 15 or 20 minutes. Then, throw it in the washing machine with like colors or other shirts if you make several. Wash as you normally would and dry as you normally would.

Your new creation is ready to wear and believe me, you WILL receive lots of compliments and people asking "Where did you get that shirt?"

Here is my finished "Imagine" shirt.

Have fun!!!! Email me pictures of the shirts you create! I would LOVE to see them!!!


  1. This is awesome, thanks for sharing. I am now a follower. Hopefully I will be able to attend one of the crops soon. Things have been very busy around here.
    Diane Raby

  2. Hey, welcome! I'm glad you liked the post. Try making a shirt. They are sooo much fun to do and so easy! Thanks for following my blog! I'm kinda new at this stuff...but I'm coachable! haha I'll have to check out your blogspot! <3 Candy

  3. Candy, this is so creative and thank you so much, too, for sharing the technique in such detail. I was going to add that I wanted to see the shirt worn but then I saw it in your next post wearing at Tim's class. Very cool.

  4. Hi Elizabeth! You are so welcome for the instructions. It's really very easy to do but I figured the pictures would make it easier to understand how to lay everything out. Try making one. It's addictive! And thanks for commenting on my blog! I appreciate that so much!

  5. WOW How very creative is this! LOVE IT

  6. That is really cool! I hope you have sent it to Tim!

  7. FANTASTIC!! This is a wonderfully creative and new way to use all TIM's stuff! Very very cool!

  8. HI Nanie, Marianne and Julie. I'm so glad that you guys stopped by and liked this tutorial. It is super fun to do and really easy. You can get some reallyl cool shirts! Marianne, I actually made Tim a shirt that said IDEAOLOGY across the front and a friend gave it to him at the last CHA. He loved it. I hope you guys will try to make one. It really is easy and once you make one, you're hooked! haha Have fun with it!

  9. Super cool and extremely creative. Great Job!

  10. LOOOOOVE this!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  11. Hi Candy - thanks for the directions for the shirt - this thing was absolutely fabulous in person (we met at AE - waiting for the ATT pic - I had on the apron with the grunge patchwork and I was drooling over your albums!!!)

  12. What a fabulous shirt! I am signing up to follow your blog now!

  13. Thank you so much! I'm glad you stopped by my blog!

  14. Jen, thanks for checking out my blog! You need to try making one of these shirts! They are super fun to do and easy!

  15. KAT~I remember you!!! :) Your apron was darling! I loved it! So original and creative! You should try to make one of these shirts. They really are super easy to do and I think you will LOVE the results!

  16. Kathy~Thanks for signing up to follow my blog! That is awesome! The shirt was fun to make and really easy to do. It's addictive though. You make one and then you want to keep out doing yourself! haha The possibilities are endless. Thank you again for following my blog! I appreciate that!

  17. This is beyond cool! I can only imagine what it is like IRL. I can't wait to try this. Thanks so much for sharing the instructions!!

  18. Hey are so welcome! It really is FUN to do and the results are amazing! I made an "IDEAOLOGY" T-shirt for Tim Holtz and a friend of mine took it to him at last summer's CHA. He loved it.

  19. Hey Ava...thanks so much for stopping by my blog and checking it out. You should try to make one of these shirts...they are so much fun to do and you can make ANYTHING!!


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