Gifts for Adults

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Terrific T's

You don't have to be a designer to make these terrific T-shirts to give as birthday gifts. Think of your friend's most relaxing place or activity and tailor a message to his or her tastes. You may want the message on this shirt to be "Meet Me in My Garden," “Gone Fishing,” “Out to Lunch,” “Ski Bum,” and so on. Consider using one of the many transfers available in craft stores and moving on to freehand after you get the knack of painting on fabric.

Gifting Glitches

Don't make a long, continuous line when using squeezable texture fabric paint, or you may develop cracks in your design. You can fill in larger areas of a design by adding a bit of water or paint extender to the paint and using a brush to apply it. Try practicing techniques on a piece of paper before beginning your design on fabric.

Time frame: Two to three hours plus overnight to dry

Level: Moderately easy

What you need:

  • Light colored T-shirt (50 percent cotton, 50 percent polyester works best)
  • Ironing board and iron
  • Iron-on transfer
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Piece of cardboard
  • Squeezable fabric paint
  1. Wash and dry the T-shirt without using fabric softener. Press to remove any wrinkles.
  2. Preheat the iron to the appropriate setting for your fabric; do not use steam. Cut the design out of the transfer paper, leaving about a one-inch border. Pin the design to the shirt, ink-side down. Press with the iron for about 10 seconds. Remove the iron and then press again for 10 seconds. Don't wiggle the iron or the transfer will blur. Lift one corner to see if the design is transferred; if not, repeat the ironing process.
  3. Insert a piece of cardboard into the shirt. Pin the area to be painted to the cardboard to prevent wrinkles in your design.
  4. Paint the T-shirt with squeezable fabric paint using the following techniques: Paint right from the bottle so the applicator tip touches the fabric surface. Allow the paint to seep into the fibers by squeezing and dragging the tip along the design. You can brush on fabric paint mixed with extender or water to fill in large areas or add shading to your design by painting a darker color over a light one where light would hit the object. You can make dots or teardrops on your project by squeezing the bottle quickly, barely touching the fabric and then lifting the bottle up. Make a dot and drag the bottle to the side to make a teardrop.
  5. Allow the T-shirt to dry overnight. After 72 hours, the T-shirt can be washed when necessary. Turn the garment inside out and use warm water in a gentle cycle.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Great Gifts © 2001 by Marilee LeBon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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