Want to do custom t-shirts in very small quantities without spending much money? Here’s how I made some DIY t-shirts many years ago. You can make your own at home, no need for fancy equipment!

Cheap DIY Logo T-Shirts

This guide will show you how to make your own t-shirts with spray paint and/or fabric paint and some household supplies.

This is how we made our first batch of Bloom Bike Shop t-shirts when I was the only full-time employee. I’ll take you through the process so you can do it on your own for whatever kind of shirts you need.

What you need:

  • T-shirts
  • Paper (preferably card stock)
  • Utility knife or X-acto knife
  • Newspaper
  • Masking tape
  • Glue stick
  • Spray paint
  • Fabric paint (optional)
  • Fabric brush (optional)

Instructions:

1. Make your stencil.

Open a program such as Microsoft Word and type in the name of your shop, club, or team. In my situation, it looked like the layout below.

BLooM
        Bike   Shop

(Tip: Try to avoid letters like “s” or use a font that has block letters, unlike I did. It will be much easier to cut out.)

There are also free graphic design programs like Canva that make this easier.

You may even be able to use your logo if you are good with an X-acto blade!

2. Print it out

Put your card stock in the printer. Print out your text or logo, making sure that it is formatted how you want it to appear.

3. Check it over.

Lay the stencil on top of your plain t-shirt to see how it looks. If you like it, go ahead and move on to step 4.

If you don’t like it, you might have to start over at step 1.

4. Cut the stencil.

cutting the stencil

Grab your knife and get to work. Start cutting out all of the letters like in the picture. Be sure to save any pieces from inside an “o” or “b” or “p”.

(Tip: Make sure you have something below where you are cutting. And remember, always be careful when working with sharp objects.)

5. Prep the shirt.

stencil part 1

Time to get your shirt ready. Lay it on a flat surface and make sure there are no wrinkles.

Then put a couple newspapers inside the shirt to prevent paint from bleeding through.

6. Prep the stencil.

stencil again

Take your completed stencil, flip it over, and coat the entire back using the glue stick. You want it to stick to your shirt firmly so the paint doesn’t leak through.

7. Put the stencil on the shirt.

Place the stencil on the shirt wherever you want it. Press it down flat to be sure it seals properly.

small letters

Now get all the little pieces from inside the o’s, b’s, and p’s. Glue them down in place too.

You might want to put a big dictionary or something over the stencil to press it down firmly, to ensure a super tight seal.

8. Tape it all down.

Tape the stencil down just to be safe. Then tape newspapers down around the stencil to make sure that no excess spray paint gets on the shirt.

9. Paint!

Grab your spray paint. Make sure you shake it first. Spray a fine mist on the shirt from about 6-10″ away. I made a few passes in each direction (left to right, top to bottom) to get the black to look like black instead of light gray.

finished tshirts

Let it sit like that a few minutes before you carefully remove the stencil.

(Tip: Be careful not to let any loose pieces drop when you are un-taping the newspapers. Wet paint could land on your nice shirt.)

10. Let dry.

Here’s how the shirts looked after this step. Let them dry 24 to 48 hours then you’re done.

However, I wasn’t done yet. It’s time to do some hand painting if you’re up for it.

11. More painting!

Lay your dry shirt out on a desk. Make sure to put some newspaper inside it again.

Get your fabric paint and brush out and start painting your design! I did about 3 or 4 light coats, waiting about 10 minutes between coats.

12. Let dry (again).

more finished t-shirts

Now you can let your shirt dry another 48 hours. Then it’s safe to machine wash it, although the design will probably last longer if you hand wash it.

13. Enjoy your new shirt!

Be sure to wear it out to the local bike shop or hangout!

What about a custom cycling jersey?

You could actually follow the same instructions if you want to make a DIY cycling jersey. But I’ve tried it. And I’ve found that whether you’re using fabric paint, spray paint, or iron-on transfer paper, the results are disappointing. And I don’t think it’s worth ruining a good cycling jersey.

So when it comes to cycling jerseys, I would recommend ordering a custom jersey from a shop that specializes in it.

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