Make A Pink ‘Be Kind’ Shirt For Pink Shirt Day
BY JEN KOSSOWAN, MAMA.PAPA.BUBBA
Feb 22, 2019
Pink Shirt Day is just around the corner and if you don’t have anything for your little one to wear, or if you just love getting crafty, you can easily make this awesome pink ‘be kind' shirt at home using regular everyday materials. I’ll break the process up into two steps — first, dyeing the shirt and second, stencilling the words. If you’re starting with an already pink shirt, simply skip down to part two.
PART ONE: DYEING
Here’s what you’ll need:
- a white cotton t-shirt
- white vinegar
- food colouring in red or pink
- table salt
- measuring spoons
You could use proper fabric dye for this step, but it’s not as easy to find as it once was and I love being able to pull off a project using things I already have on hand.
First create a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar, you’ll need enough to fully submerge the shirt. Place the shirt into the vinegar solution and let it sit for 30 minutes. This preps the fabric and really allows it to pick up the colour.
While the shirt is soaking in the vinegar solution, prepare a large pot of coloured water. Fill the pot a third to half way full of water and then add a generous amount of red and/or pink food colouring. I recommend gel food colouring as it's significantly more concentrated than liquid food colouring, but you can make either work. How much food colouring you add depends on the shade of pink you’re hoping to achieve, but keep in mind that the shirt will turn out several shades lighter than the coloured water looks. For this project we used about a teaspoon of gel food colouring to three litres of water.
Bring the water to a boil.
Once the 30 minutes are up, squeeze the excess vinegar solution out of the white shirt and gently place it into the hot, coloured water.
Carefully stir the shirt, making sure that it’s completely covered with the food colouring dye.
Next, cover the pot and turn off the heat. Allow the shirt to sit in the coloured water as long as you like, keeping in mind that the longer it soaks, the darker and more intense the pink will be.
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I like to let the covered pot sit untouched until the water is no longer hot (usually a few hours), but you can get away with leaving it for just an hour and you can certainly leave it much longer too.
Prepare a salt water bath by dissolving a few tablespoons of table salt into a large bowl of cold water. Remove the shirt from the coloured water and gently squeeze the excess dye out before submerging it into the salt water. Allow it to soak for another 30 minutes as it will help set the dye.
Using cold water, rinse the tee until the water runs completely clear. Squeeze out the excess water, and if time allows, hang the shirt to dry. If not, pop it into the dryer on low heat.
PART TWO: STENCILLING
Here’s what you’ll need:
- pink cotton shirt
- our printable ‘BE KIND’ stencil in small or large
- freezer paper (this can be found in the grocery store aisle with parchment paper, wax paper, foil, etc.)
- a pencil or permanent marker
- scissors or a craft knife and cutting mat
- a clothes iron
- acrylic paint (obviously fabric paint would be great too)
- a sponge-tipped paint brush
First decide which stencil you’d like to use — the small or the large. I recommend using the small one for toddler sized shirts and the large one for big kid sized shirts, but it’s totally up to you!
Place a piece of freezer paper over the stencil and trace the words ‘BE KIND.’
Next, the trickiest part of the project, cut the letters out while leaving the rest of the freezer paper in tact. I just use scissors for this, but if you’ve got a good craft knife and a cutting mat, that might be the better option.
With the letters cut out, place your freezer paper stencil onto your shirt so that the words are exactly where you’d like them. Then, on a no-steam cotton setting, carefully iron the stencil onto your shirt. You want this to be stuck down really well so that your words end up nice and clean around the edges, so take your time and really press it on well.
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We’re almost there — now it’s time to paint!
I chose to paint letters using white, pink and just the teeniest bit of black to create an ombre effect, but you can paint your letters however you please. Better yet — let your kiddo decide!
The only important part here is using your sponge-tipped paint brush in an up and dab dabbing motion (rather than a side-to-side sweeping motion that is more likely to cause the paint to bleed) and to use several thin layers of paint for a fully opaque effect.
Once done, let the paint dry for at least five or 10 minutes, then carefully pull up the freezer paper to reveal your finished product.
Let the shirt fully dry and it’s good to go for Pink Shirt Day!
Important: While it shouldn’t bleed all that much (if at all), I do recommend washing your Be Kind shirt on it’s own for the first couple of times just to be sure! Cold water will help preserve the dye and washing it flipped inside out will help preserve the painted-on letters.
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