Turning a new leaf fashionably

Lee, wearing a shirt that
she decorated, describes
the technique

Last week, I went to a artsy/craft class at Grand Island’s Golden Age Center. It was taught by Leonora (Lee) Tetkowski, a retired art teacher. Her specialty is weaving but she likes working with all sorts of mediums and fabrics. The project that we were working on last week was a printing technique on cotton t-shirts. 

We had to bring the following objects to the class: one dark cotton t-shirt (the technique only works on all cotton t-shirts; it does not work on a cotton-polyester blend. I’m not sure why but that’s the way it is), a collection of anywhere from six to twelve leaves with prominent veins (not too large); a medium sized old paintbrush; a styrofoam dish or a plastic dish; newspaper, torn into six-inch squares; a large piece of cardboard; and one plastic shopping bag. The instructor provided soft scrub with bleach and a clorox bleach pen.

Applying pressure to the first leaf

The large piece of cardboard was placed inside the shirt so that, if you were working on the front of the shirt, the bleach would not affect the back of the shirt. The next step was to choose a leaf and place it upside down on a piece of newspaper. The side with the prominent veins should be facing upward.

Painting a leaf with soft scrub.

After that, with the old paintbrush, paint soft scrub on the side of the leaf with the prominent vein. Take your leaf, once it’s been painted, and place it, with the painted side down, on the shirt.  Place a second piece of newspaper on top of the leaf and rub the leaf for a minute, through the newspaper. Rub from the center outward, in the direction of the veins. The leaf should be rubbed for a minute. You can peek to make sure that the leaf is flat on the shirt.

A work in progress

After a minute, carefully remove the leaf. There will be an impression of the leaf on the shirt. The bleach strips color from the shirt. You can then design a pattern, with one type of leaf or a variety of leaves. 

When you are done with your shirt, let it sit for a day. Twenty-four hours after you finished decorating your shirt, launder it with towels or jeans.

If you like, you can decorate your shirt further, either by a little embroidery or by adding buttons.

finished t-shirt, with buttons

Question of the day: What type of creative project have you recently enjoyed doing?

2 thoughts on “Turning a new leaf fashionably”

  1. I like the shirt with the leaves you chose. As for what Crafts have I done I hate to admit it but none as I am not crafty and wouldn't even want to try and make something as I know I am horrible at it.

  2. Very interesting craft! I love doing crafts that don't take a lot of expensive materials. This would probably work well on those tee shirts that have bleach spots already on them, goog for covering up!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top