{SURPRISE!!} A Tribute or Tutorial? You Be The Judge!

CHOO, CHOOOOOOOOO! The Surprise Birthday Blog Train has pulled into the Free Notion station!! Welcome, welcome everyone! 

The most amazingly fabulous, big-hearted, skirt-loving, sewing-talent Audrey recruited a bunch of bloggers to participate in a  surprise birthday tribute to her equally-remarkable rainbow-loving blogger buddy, KATY! Is that not the sweetest thing you've ever heard??

Katy blogs over at No Big Dill and has been such and inspiration! She has so many fun tutorials, and this one in particular just screamed out to me as I was perusing her site for birthday-tribute ideas.

I have the HARDEST time finding cute boy fabrics, and don't own the fancy equipment necessary to make super cute graphic T's like my (other blogger) friend Katy did for her son. How, oh, how would I pull off making my son his promised graphic t's for his back-to-school wardrobe

All at once, it hit me. I had seen a stamp set like this one at my last pass through my local craft store. What if I bought it, and some (non-washable, fabric) ink to go with it... and WROTE my own graphic t-shirt text the No Big Dill Stamp Method?? This idea had the potential for greatness! (Affiliate Link:)

....but what was I going to write? I racked my brain:

"Self, what will your shirt project say?"
"I don't know, self. Something back-to-school-y I guess?"
"Good call, self. Maybe a cute saying? 'Smart Cookie' or 'Brightest Crayon in the Box'?"
"Are we really rested enough for such a task? Those are pretty cliched."
"True... here - let me word-dump some back-to-school words: teachers, classrooms, books, crafts, something with the kid's names on it..."
"Perfect."
"Perfect? Which one?"
"All of them"
"Girl, you do need more sleep."
"Hear me out! What if we make a word search?! They have these free programs online - It'll be great!"

And so it was settled. I plugged my BTS themed word list into a generator, and PRESTO! My word search graphic t was born.

Follow Katy's instructions for a stamping tutorial (including her specifying for FABRIC INK, not just the regular kind..), and then scroll down here to see how I applied it in my son's shirt :)


Here's what you'll need:

  • White Knit Fabric - cut as the front of your shirt.
  • Tin Foil - to mount your fabric to, and protect your surfaces.
  • Spray adhesive - to mount your fabric to your tin foil. (Knit is notoriously shifty, this'll keep it in place while we work.)
  • Ruler - to measure your shirt and graphic.
  • Masking Tape - to mark your working area.
  • Marker - to mark your masking tape.
  • Fabric Ink - Black + One color to highlight child's name. (I picked orange because it's the birthday girl's favorite!
  • Alphabet Stamp Set
  • Bowl of Water & Paper Towel - to clean your stamps as you go.
  • Custom Word Search

My son's name (Everett) has 7 letters. (..duh.) I made my word search max 7 characters across, and limited my words to those that would fit in a 7x7 dimension:

Out popped:

I recommend printing out your puzzle for reference, and highlighting your kid's name. The visual reminder will help you remember to alternate ink color when you get to those parts of your project!

I measured my stamps, 7 across, with some space between, and determined I'd need to center a workspace of 6.5 inches X 6.5 inches on my t-shirt front, being mindful to stay out of any seam allowances.

You will be marking the shirt from the TOP MIDDLE, outwards. This will make sure your design stays centered on the shirt. (Thanks, Amy!)

Since 7 in an odd number ("Duh" again, I know. Sorry to keep stating the obvious!) I needed to mark the center of my work space, and line up my first column over top of it:

Line up your ruler on the left side of your markings. We'll use this as our guide to keep things relatively straight as we stamp.

Annnd, we're ready to stamp!! 

I resolved pretty much immediately to let this shirt be imperfect. "Perfect is the enemy of good", and my son is going to love the shirt all the same, so why stress myself!? I liked the outlines of the stamps, and the randomized (but still grid-like) alignment I created.

I plopped my stamps down, one at a time, varying the pressure and the ink I picked up each time. (Except when I got to the color. That I had to press really hard on to get to show up!)

At the end of each column, I used a stamp to mark my new column, and confirm ruler placement.

I kept my water and paper towel handy throughout the process. It was good practice before marking my shirt, and helped to clean my stamps between colors. Admittedly, I don't know if real fabric ink is water soluble. If it's not, totally disregard this step!

Once you've worked yourself through all your left-side columns, repeat the process on the right. But make sure to move your ruler to the right side, too, so it doesn't drag across wet ink and smear your project! When it's all done, it looks like:

DIY "Wordsearch"Graphic T Tutorial - Using Rubber Stamps and Fabric Ink. Perfect Design for Back To School!

DIY "Wordsearch"Graphic T Tutorial - Using Rubber Stamps and Fabric Ink. Perfect Design for Back To School!

And as a final tribute to the birthday girl - I put a little "NBD" in my word search! (For "No Big Dill." Again, with the intelligence insults! Sorry dudes!) Can you find it!? What other words can you find? Don't forget to follow Katy's instructions for setting your awesome new graphic tshirt design :)

Hope you had fun with this tutorial! Now I have to go sew up this raglan! I'll debut the final product in my stop for the Time {For School} Capsule blog tour. Can't wait!!

As always, tell me what you think! What questions do you have? Will you try this to spice up your kid's clothes, too? Hit me with it, in the comments! Then go wish Katy a very happy birthday over on instagram (@nobigdillkaty, #arainbowforkaty) and see the rest of the surprise birthday party stops here! Happy Birthday Katy!!!