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Permanent Marker Watercolor Tee

Permanent Marker Watercolor Tee

Ages school-age

If you've ever ruined a shirt by getting permanent marker on it, you know that that kind of stain does not wash out with soap and water! Rubbing alcohol, however will cause permanent marker to dissolve and bleed. Today, instead of ruining clothes, we're using this knowledge to our advantage by coloring a t-shirt with permanent markers and then creating a watercolor effect by dropping rubbing alcohol onto the design. This is a fun t-shirt design project for any age. Kids love to watch the colors spread and mix together!

Oracle of Love

Let-It-Snow T-shirt

Handy Tray

by Marigold Haske

What you'll need

  • White cotton t-shirt
  • Permanent markers
  • Large scrap paper
  • Bowl
  • Rubber band
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Dropper

How to make it

Mask off t-shirt

1. Place a prewashed white cotton t-shirt onto a t-shirt form or a piece of cardboard (you want to prevent your design from bleeding through the front of the shirt and onto the back).

Trace all around the edge of the bowl onto a sheet of scrap paper and cut out the circle. Center the paper with the cut-out circle over the t-shirt. Secure with a few pieces of masking tape so it doesn't shift. This will be the area where you will draw your design.

2. Use permanent markers to draw your design within the masked off area. Remember that the colors will bleed into each other, so place colors together that will blend well and not just turn into a muddy brown mess.

Place the t-shirt over a bowl

3. When you are happy with your design, remove the paper mask. Place the bowl inside the t-shirt under the design. Use a rubber band to secure the t-shirt to the bowl.

drop rubbing alcohol onto the permanent marker design

4. Use a dropper to drip rubbing alcohol onto the design. The colors will start to spread and bleed.

5. Allow the design to dry completely. Rinse with cool water and lay flat to dry. Heat set by ironing the design for several minutes. 

finished watercolor t-shirt

6. The finished t-shirt design is machine washable! For best results, use cold water, no bleach and tumble dry.