Over the past few years, my wife and I have developed a habit of creating “projects” to wear at Disney parks: for our honeymoon we made matching T-shirts, and earlier this year we custom designed decorated MagicBands. We try to come up with not only new designs for each trip, but we also like to explore new methods for creating our wearable art projects.
So, for our trip to Disneyland, we continued this tradition by designing and creating new shirts. I also finally got around to making a hoodie project I had been putting off, as the weather report suggested that the nights in Anaheim were going to get a bit chilly.
Here is the breakdown of what we made, and how we made them!
When we first started thinking about our Disneyland shirts, we realized that we wanted to incorporate something unique to that park and we quickly realized that the perfect subject for this was the Hatbox Ghost. Recently reincorporated into Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion (he was removed shortly after the ride’s opening), the Hatbox Ghost represented our love of the attraction as well as a character we won’t see anywhere else.
Once we had the subject, the next decision was how to put the Hatbox Ghost onto the shirts. After poking around online a bit, we found a method involving bleach which sounded fairly easy and would create a really cool effect.
My one caveat before getting started: using bleach requires a lot of care. Getting it on your skin, in your eyes, and breathing it can be dangerous. Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area and taking all necessary precautions to avoid injury.
In addition to your pattern and an article of clothing, you’ll also need: cutting implements (something fairly precise, like an X-Acto knife), tape, and a spray bottle of bleach. We opted not to dilute the bleach at all, but adding water can be a way to adjust how much it fades the fabric. If you want a lighter effect, then diluting is the way to go, but if you’re like us and want the image to really be bold then go with straight bleach. You’ll also want an iron, some cardboard, paper towels, and a tub or something filled with enough cold water to soak the shirt later in the process. Bear in mind, too, that if you’re making more than one shirt you’ll need one stencil per, as they’re only usable once.
We went with purple shirts, which bleached to pink.
We did our best to keep the pattern centered on the shirt, using safety pins to mark a center line down the front (as best we could). Also, I’d recommend ironing the work area of the shirt to ensure that you’re not adding wrinkles into your design.
The next phase is spraying the bleach. Holding the bottle about six inches away from the shirt, spray evenly across the pattern. Spray pretty lightly as well, you can always do a second pass if you want it to be more bleached. Once you’ve done a pass, blot the surface (stencil and shirt) with paper towels.
Once you think it’s done (we gave it about five minutes) drop the entire shirt, pattern and all, into the cold water. Let it soak for several minutes, which will stop the bleach reaction. I ended up just dropping the cardboard in with it, which got soggy but it’s still better than risking the bleach getting where you don’t want it on the shirt. We left it in the water for a few minutes, swishing it around a bit to insure that the whole thing is soaked. Then we removed it from the water and peeled off the stencil.
The heavier the bleach, the lighter the target area, but as we soon found out you need to be careful. I sprayed it on pretty thick, and did a second “coat” of bleach. Oops.
OK, the first attempt didn’t go exactly as planned, but it was a good learning experience. Mostly we learned that our first attempt didn’t exactly go as planned. So for the next attempt we reversed things.
The next part was the same: spray, blot, and wait for the bleach to do its thing for about five minutes or so. Then dump the whole project into the cold water (we used our bathtub) for a few minutes.
After letting the shirts dry (we wrung them out a bit, and them let them hang over the tub for a while) you can wash them with some detergent and the shirts are ready to wear. I’d recommend washing them by themselves, or with something you don’t care about potentially getting bleach stained.
We weren’t quite done with these shirts, though, so we held off washing to do a bit more. I wanted to advertise my site, so had the idea of adding Magic & Misadventures to the back of the shirt. The concept of cutting out all of the letters to create a stencil did not seem like fun, however, and had a high risk of being screwed up. Fortunately, I got an idea:
My wife wanted to do something for the back of hers as well. We had bought a bottle of glow-in-the-dark fabric spray at the craft store (because you never know when you may need that) and this seemed like the perfect chance to use it.
After a couple of days (the glow-in-the-dark paint instructions said to wait 72 hours) we washed the shirts, and they’re ready to wear at Disneyland!
Hoodie of the Future
This project started because of an impulse buy at the Disney Store. I was perusing their clearance section and came across a shirt that I immediately fell in love with. I’m in that store a lot, and had never seen this particular shirt before: turns out that it was in clearance simply because it wasn’t a part of their regular stock and had been returned from an online order.
Originally I had thought of cutting out the graphic and attaching it to a denim jacket (and then decorating it with Disney-related pins and patches), but this didn’t happen because apparently it’s not the 1980s anymore and denim jackets are surprisingly hard to come by. So, since I wear hoodies a lot anyway and I happened to have a spare black one in my closet, the project shifted gears to something slightly closer to this decade.
To attach the graphic to the hoodie we used Thermoweb, which is basically an iron-on fabric adhesive. It’s more flexible than fabric glue (and less messy) and way easier to apply.
I’d recommend covering your work surface with an old towel or something. As we were ironing down the piece of Thermoweb (which we cut larger than the graphic) we also accidentally adhered it to our ironing board. It was easy to peel up, but there’s a gross residue left behind. That’s me, destroying our ironing board cover so you know not to!
One minor point that we didn’t consider: the graphic is only 100% visible when the hood is up. If I’m not wearing the hood, then part of the Space Mountain lettering is obscured. I don’t think I care too much about that, but it’s something we didn’t think about and to keep in mind on future projects.
Before I decided that this project was done, though, I had one last addition. Since apparently I’m terrible at resisting Disney-related impulse buys, I had a small Mickey Mouse iron-on patch from Hot Topic that I had no use for yet. So I opted to incorporate it onto the hoodie.
The cool thing about the hoodie in particular is that it’s something I’ll wear outside of the parks as well. Some of the shirts we’ve made are fairly specific to one point in time (like the honeymoon ones) but the hoodie will help keep me warm–and show off my Disney fandom–pretty much anywhere.
Update: I was a bit concerned about how the hoodie would hold up to being worn, shoved into a locker, rolled into a suitcase, etc. The shirts that we had made with the same Thermoweb technique didn’t last past the one wearing/washing. But I’m happy to say that the hoodie is doing just fine after the trip. It could be that the T-shirt I cut up is a better fabric than what we used on the shirts. I’ve found that the edges are starting to come up a bit in some places, I think it’s just the nature of the Thermoweb, but a dab of fabric glue or a few stitches should take care of that easily.
I’ll admit, part of the fun of our Disney trips is creating these do-it-yourself projects and showing them off in the parks. Often people (cast members and fellow guests alike) will take notice and comment on them, and it’s exciting to share a moment with other Disney fans. It’s also just fun to create them, my wife and I really enjoy putting them together. For us, it’s an extension of the planning process and a way to get jazzed up for an upcoming Disney trip, and hopefully writing about our do-it-yourself projects can help inspire like-minded fans.
So if you want to create a cool piece of wearable Disney art, I hope this helps, and if you’re at a Disney park and you see someone wearing these it’s probably us. Stop and say hello!
Did this inspire you to create your own wearable Disney art? I’d love to see! Post a photo on Instagram and use #MagicandMisadventures to show off your work!