DIY Fourth of July Graphic Tee

Fourth of July might just be my second favorite holiday after Christmas. First, it's in the summer. Second, there is delicious food. Third, fireworks and sparklers and fireflies. This year because it's on Tuesday, I'm pretty much celebrating alllll weekend leading up to it. That includes pool partying, bbq-ing, and the first time seeing fireworks in our town. Since I love Fourth of July so much, you would think that I would have tons of red, white, and blue in my closet ready to assemble into the perfect outfit. Not so much. My previous red, white, and blue outfits are some of my favorite summer outfits. But when it came to this year, I almost skipped the thematic dressing. In fact, I skipped it last year too! But then, Instagram. Gets me every time. I fell really hard for some of those cute graphic tees. And that was the inspiration for me to get back into DIY fashion posts! So today I'm going to share how you can create the most adorable DIY Fourth of July graphic tee.

DIY Fourth of July Graphic Tee Tutorial - so easy and so cute!
DIY Fourth of July Graphic Tee Tutorial - so easy and so cute!

Creating this DIY Fourth of July graphic tee was a step up from some of my other DIY fashion projects. It took a little more time and effort but I am sooo happy with how it turned out. Sure, there are plenty of Fourth of July graphic tees out there but did I really want 'Merica written across my chest? No thanks. Here's what you'll need:

Supplies:

Plain t-shirt (I purchased a 3-pack of Hanes mens' undershirts for about $15 at Target. They are soft and comfortable!)

Fabric paint

Sponge brush or regular small paintbrush

Cardstock, printer, and Xacto knife OR plastic stencil

Magazines or cardboard

Painter's tape or masking tape

These are the basic supplies that I used but there are so many different ways and supplies you can use to make a fun graphic tee. I wanted a really specific look for my tee so I chose to make my own stencil, which I'll talk about below. You may want to skip this step since it's a bit more time-consuming. Instead, grab a pre-made stencil at your local craft store. Also, the choice of paintbrush is up to you. Or, if you're like me, it depends on what you have! I thought I had one of those cheap sponge brushes in my craft bin BUT, like always, I took it to work for a project with my students. #teacherlife. So instead I used a paintbrush that was lying around and it worked out just fine.

How to make your own Fourth of July graphic tee:

If you're creating your own stencil, start here.

DIY Fourth of July Graphic Tee - and how to make your own stencil!
DIY Fourth of July Graphic Tee - and how to make your own stencil!

For those of you who want to use a specific font that's on your computer, go for it! It's a bit more time consuming but great if like to be super in control (like me!). Create your phrase in Word or Google Docs and then print it out on cardstock. Size matters (in this case) so for 3-inch letters like I have on my shirt, you'll want 216 point font. For slightly smaller letters at 2.5 inches, use 180 point. If you don't want either of those, just ask Google like I did.

Once you've printed your design, lay out some cardboard and grab your Xacto knife. Take your time and cut away the black print from the cardstock to create your stencil. Since 216 point font is larger, you may have to piece together your letters to make the full word.

Tip: Watch out for letters and/or symbols that have a "donut hole", aka a hole in the middle. You need to remember to leave a little "bridge" so that you get that hole. 

Now that we have our stencil (or grab it if you bought it)...

Lay out your tee on a flat surface. Insert one or two magazines inside the shirt. This step is really important. Magazines or cardboard will keep any paint from bleeding through and getting on the back of the t-shirt. Use as many pieces as you need.

Secure your homemade stencil using masking tape or painter's tape. If you are using a pre-made stencil, you will either need to lay out the letters or you will need to do each letter individually and give some drying time in between.

DIY Fourth of July Graphic Tee
DIY Fourth of July Graphic Tee
DIY Fourth of July Graphic Tee
DIY Fourth of July Graphic Tee

Once the stencil is secured, start painting!

This was the fastest step even though I took my time. Be fairly generous and even with the paint to get rich colors on your t-shirt. Though I haven't experimented too much, a sponge brush and pre-made stencil will probably give you more precision. However, I am in LOVE with the messy perfection of using a paintbrush and my own stencil. I love the blurred edges of my letters. If you want to use a regular brush but need more precise lines, you can also find a variety of fabric pens that will make being precise a breeze.

Let the paint dry for at least 20 minutes before removing the stencil and making any touch-ups.

My dry time lasted for about one episode of Pretty Little Liars (DO NOT spoil the series finale; I am waiting until it comes to Netflix). Once you remove the stencil, you can touch up the edges, fill in the "bridge" areas for letters with holes, and make it took pretty.

DIY Fourth of July Graphic Tee
DIY Fourth of July Graphic Tee

Allow the t-shirt to dry for at least 24 hours before wearing it.

Read the instructions on your fabric paint for how long the paint needs to "cure". You may also need to iron it and wash it. Just be aware because no one wants to wear their design on their skin!

Making this tee was a bit more intense (I haven't used an Xacto knife that much since college!) but probably one of my favorite DIYs I've ever done. Now you can choose the perfect patriotic phrase for your Fourth of July bbq, instead of "Red, White, and Booze". Unless that's your thing, then go with it.

DIY Fourth of July Graphic Tee - a simple and inexpensive project to get you ready for the holiday!
DIY Fourth of July Graphic Tee - a simple and inexpensive project to get you ready for the holiday!

Tune in on Friday to see how I'm styling this DIY Fourth of July graphic tee two different ways!