DIY Photo Shirt

My first craft of the new year is actually a belated Christmas present. My friend Jennifer loves the original cover of Flowers for Algernon (pretty much the SADDEST book ever), and since it is really hard to find that specific cover, I thought I would maker her a shirt. But, I can’t take all the credit for this idea. Jennifer had casually mentioned one day how cool it would look on a shirt, so my crafty light bulb instantly went off.

From its Wiki Page

From its Wiki Page

But your project doesn’t have to be a image you found online- you can use your own photos! About a year ago, I had transferred a collage onto a block of wood using instructions from PetaPixel‘s tutorial, and a similar transfer method can be used on fabric. My inspiration for this entry is from Stars for Streetlights and A Beautiful Mess tutorials.


A laser image on paper. This means you need to use a lazer printer or copier to print the image. (These are pretty standard nowadays, but if you don’t have one at home you can go to Kinko’s.)

Heavy Gel Medium. I used Golden, Extra Heavy Gel (Gloss), but Photo Transfer Modge Podge is also a really good (AND SAFE) choice if you haven’t worked with gel mediums before.

Fabric. I used a cotton and polyester shirt from Michael’s.

A paintbrush, preferably foam but I didn’t have one on hand.

photo (1)


1. Select an image or photo, and make sure it is sized correctly. I wanted mine to be big, so I had combine two pieces of paper. The image on the left is the original size, and the image on the right is the adjusted size. Then, cut the image out as close as you can if there is a complicated image like mine. I suggest keeping the image in simple object shapes.

photo (2)

2. Since I am transferring the photo to a shirt, I used the top of a plastic bin (or something similar, like cardboard) to separate the two layers so bleeding doesn’t occur.

photo (3)

3. Apply an even coat of gel medium onto the image. Although it is common to think “the more the better”, try sticking to just a few centimeters of thickness. (In this photo, I dramatized the application so that the picture would come out clearly. DO NOT apply this much medium.)

photo (4)

4. Turn the image upside down and press it onto the fabric. Remember, if you are transferring an image of a face or letter, the image will be reversed, so consider that when you are printing out your image.

photo (6)

5. The image will need to dry for about 24 hours at the absolute minimum. I used books to weigh my image down to make sure as much of the image as possible will transfer.

photo (7)

6. Next, dampen the image with a damp cloth or sponge you can see the image though the paper. Make sure the entire image is visible. Then slowly rub off the paper with your fingers or a soft cloth. The paper will come off in little pieces, so it will take a few minutes to give everything off.

photo (9)

photo (10)

7. Viola! It’s beautiful! I didn’t have a model on hand, so I had to use myself. Not the greatest, but in a pinch it does the trick.

photo (11)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s