Monday, July 8, 2013

Constellation T-Shirt

We’ve been working on this T-shirt design for a couple of weeks. It was supposed to be for Father’s Day but after a total craft fail we started over – and it failed again. But we learned a few things: that bleach T-shirt thing- doesn’t work so well on black t-shirts – or maybe just not for us? 

Our first T-shirt design turned orange, the bleach pen oozed and the writing was a mess. But-come Halloween we know now how to make orange and black designs!



For our second constellation T-shirt attempt, I bought a Deco Fabric pen and the boy drew his design on the shirt - but there are no directions on the pen – when we put the shirt through the wash, it came out and - ta-da- the design was gone!

A trip to the Internet for directions and –finally a constellation shirt for the dad.
Use the Internet or a book to find the constellation you want to replicate or make up your own.

Elliott decided he wanted to make a “new” constellation for his unicycling dad and this is how we did it.

Wash and dry the shirt to remove sizing from the material. You might want to test the paint pen in an inconspicuous place- inside on the hem first before doing the entire design.

I also recommend doing a sketch first just so everything fits on the shirt. Elliott had a sketch he’d drawn out so we knew where to put the design and how big to make it (we actually increased the size on our printer/copier at home).


Place a piece of wax paper or a paper bag (or in our case a large cutting board) some kind of barrier inside the shirt between the front and back layers.

Poke holes through the design paper with a tack and use white chalk to mark where the important stars should be placed. At this point - we'd gone through our holes 3 times, skipped the chalk part and drew directly with the marker. 
However, there are many ways to transfer the drawing- You could rub white chalk on the back of the paper and then press down on the star dots to transfer the constellation design to the front side. 


Remove the paper design.
With the cap on- shake the pen.  Then remove the cap and depress the pen tip to get the paint flowing on an extra piece of paper.

When the paint is flowing – dab the pen over the chalked drawn design- outline the constellation connecting lines –then go to town randomly filling in the entire shirt with stars and galaxies. 
Remember to recap the pen when you're done- it will dry out if you don’t.

The directions I found said to allow the paint to dry over night, then lay a cotton cloth over the design and use an iron (with heat set to correct fabric setting) to apply heat evenly for 10 to 15 seconds to set the paint.

Elliott wanted the constellation to read “one wheel" and looked it up – roughly translated from the Latin to “una rota“ which I wrote on the bottom for him (one armed guy that he is right now). I made him a Cancer T-shirt too for his July birthday this week.

Deco Fabric pens also come in a glow in the dark- which we could put over the white to make it glow at night- might try that next.


  1. Loving the idea of constellation designs! Being a "wish i had been an astronomer" this appeals to me!!! thanks for the how-to and intro to Deco Fabric pens!

  2. I think it's a unique idea to print a T shirt . I also print this design into my T shirt. Please give me the idea to print my T shirt into pens.
    t shirt printing in grand rapids