This starry night skyline glow in the dark shirt is fun, unique and sure to get you compliments! Follow the tutorial below to create your own!
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This is one of those projects that turned out exactly the way I pictured it in my head. From the skyline to the colors to the glow in the dark effect, this shirt is definitely worth the time it takes to create it. The good news is, I took pictures of each step so you can recreate it (or at least your own version of it)!
Here’s a list of the supplies you’ll need:
- black shirt (I bought this one in a two pack off Amazon)
- freezer paper (for skyline stencil)
- Silhouette (or other cutting machine)
- Color Shot fabric spray paint in Silver Shimmer
- glow in the dark heat transfer vinyl (this is the kind I bought)
- iron and ironing board
- straight pins
- masking tape
- weeding tool
- cutting mat
- newspaper or something to cover parts of shirt you don’t want sprayed
Let’s get started:
First, you’ll need to make sure your shirt is clean and wrinkle free. (I put mine through the wash and then pulled it out of the dryer when it was warm and laid it flat to cool.)
Next, measure the width of your shirt so you know how long your skyline needs to be. When measuring, make sure to take into account how tall you want your skyline to be as well so it looks proportional. My shirt was 16.5″ wide and I wanted the skyline to be about 4″ tall.
Then find a silhouette of the city you want, also called a skyline, and save it. (In my case, it was Salt Lake City, UT.) Open up a word document, pull up the skyline and make the necessary adjustments so it will fit across the front of your shirt.
To create my skyline, I changed the layout to landscape, made the margins as small as possible and cropped the image so I had two pieces (a longer piece and a shorter piece). Then, when I printed it out, I taped the two pieces of the skyline together so it would be the right length. You can see what I did in the pictures below. To save on ink, I chose to print the skyline in a really light grey. Because it was so light, I used my ruler and a fine tip marker to trace straight lines.
Once the skyline is done being traced (if necessary), use some masking tape and tape down the edges of the paper to the table or counter. Then cut a piece of freezer paper the length you need, tape it on top of the skyline and trace it with a pencil. Make sure the matte side is up and the shiny side is down! Now, you will need to carefully cut the skyline out of the freezer paper.
After cutting out the skyline, turn on your iron and get out your ironing board. I put mine on the cotton (highest) setting. Lay your shirt out flat on the table or counter. Make sure there are no wrinkles and that it’s not being pulled funny in any way. I used some straight pins to pin the edges of the freezer paper to the shirt. (If you want to double check you’ve got your skyline in the right place, now would be the time to try it on and see.)
Once it’s placed correctly, grab your hot iron and carefully, but firmly, press the freezer paper onto the shirt for a few seconds. Do not spray it or add anything to it. It doesn’t take long to get the freezer paper to adhere. Pay close attention to small pieces or points so they get ironed down. This will help ensure crisp lines when you spray the fabric paint on. (Make sure to remove the straight pins if you used them.) Keep working your way along the freezer paper until it doesn’t pull up from the shirt. Let it cool.
**For more information on freezer paper and how to use it as a stencil, check out this post by Make It and Love It.
Next, grab a box or piece of cardboard large enough to lay the shirt down on. Get a piece of newspaper and use some masking tape to tape it to the freezer paper at the bottom of your skyline.
Fold the bottom of the shirt up underneath the newspaper so it’s not showing. Tape the newspaper down onto the cardboard so it doesn’t flap around.
I also recommend that you take the time to tape your shirt down to the cardboard (on the back of the shirt) with more masking tape so it doesn’t move. The last thing you want is to have the wind catch it as your spraying. I also inserted a piece of freezer paper inside the top of the shirt at the neckline so I didn’t get fabric spray there and taped it down too. Basically, if you don’t want the shirt to move, tape it down. You can also use some straight pins to pin the shirt sleeves to each other so you don’t end up with paint inside.
From here, give your Color Shot a good shake (about a minute). Spray a little bit onto the cardboard or grass to get it going.
Then, starting at the freezer paper silhouette, spray back and forth doing very light layers. You can always add more (which we’ll do), but you can’t take it off. I did a total of three coats, with more fabric spray near the edges of the skyline and fading it as I moved toward the top of the shirt. Let it dry for a couple hours.
To remove the freezer paper, simple start at one end and pull it off at a 90 degree angle. Assuming you got it all ironed down at the edges, you should end up with nice, crisp lines and good detail.
Now, you can choose to leave your shirt just like this and it will still look really cool. Or…you can keep going with the tutorial to make your shirt glow in the dark.
If you want to do the glow in the dark step, please read the following disclosure:
*FULL DISCLOSURE* I chatted with the people at Tulip (the makers of Color Shot) and asked them about using heat transfer vinyl on top of the Color Shot fabric spray. They were a little skeptical about it, but advised me to let the shirt dry for 72 hours before trying anything. They said there was a possibility that the heat from the iron could discolor the Color Shot fabric paint or the shirt. I followed their advice and I didn’t have any problems with discoloration. If you’re unsure how it will do or look, do a test on a piece of fabric the same color and material as your shirt.
To add the glow in the dark stars, you’ll need some glow in the dark heat transfer vinyl. I bought this kind off of Amazon. With the exception of the cut stars sticking a little to the backing, I had no problems with it. (Although that also could have been due to a dull blade.) It ironed on great and it glowed bright which is exactly what I wanted.
I bought a star cut file from the Silhouette store and opened it up in my design studio. Then I made a copy and flipped it and manipulated it until I had the stars the way I wanted. I did end up having to do some piecing to get the look right but in the end I was happy with it.
To iron on the stars, I followed the recommendations on the packaging for heat settings and length of time to hold the iron on the vinyl. Some of the smaller stars didn’t iron on, but that could have been a result of the Color Shot, not the vinyl. For this particular heat transfer vinyl, you have to do a cold peel, which means you wait until the vinyl has cooled before peeling the backing off.
There were a few areas where I had to keep applying heat and checking to see if they vinyl adhered (mostly near the neckline or sleeves where the shirt didn’t lay completely flat). To check, you can gently lift up on the backing and if the star stays on the shirt, then you’re good to go. If it peels up with the backing, try again.
*PRO TIP* For a more in depth tutorial on how to use heat transfer vinyl, please refer to this post! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment and I will respond.
And now your shirt is ready to wear! I made and wore this shirt to a blogging conference I went to called SNAP. The theme for the dance party one of the nights was shine bright and was geared toward the idea of space, the cosmos and stars. I love how it turned out and got a lot of compliments on it! (Also, this shirt looks amazing in a black light.)
Since today is the second Wednesday of the month, that means it’s time for the Inspire My Creativity party! This month’s theme is SOMETHING TO WEAR and I know you’ll be inspired by all the fun ideas the other co-hosts are sharing as well.
Next month, the theme is STENCILS.