Hello everyone! My name is Emily, and I would like to welcome you to the newest series here on the blog, Geeks and Crafts! Every month (and maybe more often) I’ll be sharing a new geeky DIY tutorial for you to make and enjoy. I’m a geek of many trades, so you might find anything from home decor to paper crafts to clothing in my posts. But they’re always going to be fairly easy and pretty dang geeky, I can promise you that!

Today, I’m going to share the steps for a project I did last summer in preparation for the premiere of Star Trek Into Darkness! (I previously wrote about this DIY last year, on a personal blog I’ve now moved on from, and since I don’t want it to be lost forever to the depths of the Internet, I thought it would be a good one to share with you.) It’s a DIY hand-painted t-shirt and this is one of my go-to methods for creating custom geek apparel.

First of all, you’ll need the following supplies:


  • a stencil of your image or text
  • a plain t-shirt
  • a craft knife and cutting mat
  • paint brushes of various sizes (cheap ones are fine)
  • fabric paint (I recommend Tulip Soft Fabric Paint)
  • tape

Next, set aside the shirt and the paint for now and cut out your stencil. I created this design in Photoshop specifically for the event I was going to, but yours can be anything you want on a shirt. And you don’t need Photoshop to make a stencil – if you want to do text (like a favorite quote), just lay it out in a word processor using a bold font, make the text color a light grey, print and cut just like I did:

Cut out

Don’t worry about it being completely perfect, because you’re just using the stencil as a guide, really, and you’ll be able to touch it up after you pull the stencil off.

Once it’s all cut out, position the stencil on the shirt where you want it and tape it down:

Taped down

And then, just paint inside all of the cut-out areas carefully, until you’ve filled it all in. Like I said, just use the stencil as a guide, remembering that it’s always possible to add paint, but you can’t really take off what you put down.

When you’re done painting, let it dry a bit and then carefully remove the stencil. Touch up any areas that might need it, and then follow the instructions on your fabric paint to let the shirt dry and set the paint if needed. Here’s my finished design:


I used metallic silver paint on a black shirt to give it that futuristic, spacey Star Trek look. I was very happy with it and it got a lot of love from my friends and random people at the movies.

This is probably one of my favorite DIY projects, actually. I especially like it because it’s so versatile – you could use the same method and just change up the design and colors for so many occasions. You don’t have to stick to t-shirts, either! You could do something like this on any piece of fabric; I’m thinking decorative pillows, curtains, wide headbands, or a tote bag, like I did a couple years ago for a Hunger Games swap:

Mockingjay Tote Bag

The possibilities are practically endless, and I’d love to see if you do something with this tutorial! Please leave links to your projects in the comments so that we can all check them out. And I’ll see you next month with more Geeks and Crafts!