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4 Print Ideas to DIY Your Plain Tees With


Do you ever feel the compulsion to freshen up your wardrobe but wonder what with? Or maybe you look at some of your t-shirts and think they’re great, but believe they could be a tad greater? Along with other men’s basics, well-made fitted tees are timeless fashion pieces — but you can always funk it up.

Doing DIY prints on your well-made plain tees can combine quality with personality. All too often, graphic tees aren’t exactly made with the best materials. They may be too heavy, tear easily, or become coarse and itchy over time. Plus, no matter what, sometimes it’s just fun to get crafty.

My favorite tool for doing DIY t-shirt prints is the stencil. It’s a classic and you don’t need fancy materials to create one. Even if your artistic capabilities aren’t the best — like mine! — it’s still fairly easy to get a good result from a stencil, as long as you make sure you cut it out properly.

You can buy store-bought stencils as well, but that’s less fun (in my humble opinion). Then, there are multiple materials you can use to print the design onto your shirt, so you have a range of choices to make. This isn’t a how-to guide — you can find plenty online by much more knowledgeable people than yours truly — but I do hope this provides you with some ideas for an adventure with a fun and crafty DIY t-shirt design!

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1. Quotes or Lyrics

Display your favorite words to the world! Letter stencils can be simple and straightforward, or you can get creative with shapes and calligraphy. Either way you choose, there’s nothing better than printing those special sentences that touched your heart, made you laugh, or opened your mind on a t-shirt to proudly showcase for all to see. Pass along what you love. You’re not bound to a brand other than your personal brand.

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2. Inside Jokes

If you and your friends, family, partner, or coworkers have ever shared a resoundingly good inside joke, immortalizing it on a t-shirt is a fun way to remind people that you love them, all while adding a touch of personality to your wardrobe. Make a pair or some small batch of shirts with the same stencil and, hey, you’ve got yourself a homemade, sentimental, and extremely cute gift for the next holiday or birthday!

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3. Silhouettes

The truly fun thing about stencils is that the designs don’t need to be especially refined. Tinier details will likely get lost anyway, so it’s better to stick with blocks of color, which is great for making silhouettes of characters. Pick that iconic pose from that iconic scene, that iconic album cover, that memorable jawline, and so on, and then print it out and cut your stencil. Now, look at that, you have a beautiful, recognizable silhouette on your t-shirt.

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4. Symbols or Objects

Do you have a favorite flower? A symbol of a club, a band, a TV show or movie, or maybe even something you designed yourself? Why not put it on a t-shirt? It’s pretty fun to have prints that are simply cool-looking for the sake of looking cool. It also adds a nice DIY touch to your outfit while speaking volumes for your fashion sense.

— Michael Elias

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