Watermark Tees

1 Posted by - September 30, 2013 - DIY & Crafts, Women's Apparel

This pin test was originally posted on CraftFail.

My blog readers give me great ideas for t-shirts all the time, and while some of them are available in my store, some of them I’ve just not gotten around to creating yet, so I thought I’d try making some on my own with this watermark tee tutorial.

I’ve been meaning to do this one for a while, but blue gel glue is kinda hard to find and I ended up having to go to Michael’s for it. If you are a non-crafty person who has walked into Michael’s, you know the pain of which I speak. The aisles make absolutely no sense, the whole store smells like unidentified scented candle wax, and I’m pretty sure even the walls are judging me with their hot-glued googly eyes.

But I returned from the store with blue gel glue and a package of Rit dye, which I am assured is the right thing to dye t-shirts with.

Then I raided my husband’s closet and found some white undershirts that were never worn because he tried them once and said they made his nipples itch.

I began with a design inspired by my Cocknails episode with Amy:

fuck nebulas

Yeah, it’s hard to read when it’s in blue gel glue. (“Fuck nebulas — it’s SHARK WEEK!”)

Then, because I figured if I’m gonna do this, I might as well do more than one, I created a few more designs.

Instructions said to let the t-shirts and glue dry for a few hours, but a few hours later they were still really, really wet. I let them dry overnight and they were then mostly dry, so I decided to call it good.

The instructions also said to use some non-water-permeable thing to put the shirt on, but I only had one plastic bin lid, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to use cardboard for the other ones. Yeah. The glue stuck.

saucy bitch

(The above design was inspired by my Cocknails with Andris, by the way.)

I did manage to detach it, along with some little bits of cardboard. Oops.

cardboard bits

Then it was time to dye, Mr. Bond. You’ll notice my properly gloved hands, because I follow directions like a boss (minus that whole cardboard thing).


I soaked and swirled the shirts for 10 minutes or so and then my arms got tired so I figured it was good enough. I rinsed them out in the sink until it looked like the water was running clean, and then I put them in a Woolite bath.

Turns out I didn’t manage to rinse all the dye out. Hm.

woolite bath

The purpose of the Woolite bath was to soak out the glue (and the cardboard, in my case), but it was worrying to me that the water immediately turned pink. Wouldn’t that mean that the pink would deposit back on the white spots where the glue was previously preventing the dye from dying?

But I pressed on because it looked like they might still be salvageable.

not ruined yet

I washed them in cold in the washing machine and then dried them on medium, and it turns out all the pink dye still wasn’t out. And the shirts turned out a little less than impressive.

The sad, faint outline of a penis:

penis shirt

A saucy bitch shirt that I did not spellcheck so I’m not sure if I spelled “saucy” right:

saucy shirt

And a clever Shark Week shirt that you can’t read at all:

shark week shirt

So it turns out I just ended up with 3 light pink t-shirts with some faintly whiter spots. And they’ll probably make my nipples itch. Dammit.



  • Jodee Rose September 30, 2013 - 8:11 pm Reply

    If I had a dollar for every time I had encountered the sad, faint outline of a penis…

    • inkgrrl October 1, 2013 - 12:00 pm Reply

      Oh how I wish I could upvote this comment more than once.

  • Sara Weeks September 30, 2013 - 8:14 pm Reply

    This is the craft I did for the original Pintester Movement! I even still wear mine although it admittedly did not turn out nearly as good as the original tutorial. http://threemoreweeks.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-pintester-movement-watermark-tee.html ( Please forgive my shameless blog plug)

    It’s a shame your pink penis tee didn’t pan out, I’d pay money to see you sport that in public 🙂

  • aprilly September 30, 2013 - 8:31 pm Reply

    Just go back over the writing with a bleach pen.

    • Carolyn B October 1, 2013 - 8:37 am Reply

      Exactly what I was going to say!

  • Courtney W September 30, 2013 - 8:34 pm Reply

    Crap. I had this on my list to try. That and the bleach pen pin. Maybe next pinterest movement!

  • Sunflowercake September 30, 2013 - 9:37 pm Reply

    too funny, hope you like pink. By the way, speaking of cocknails and your great drunk manicures: I found this book online called “the boozy baker”. Did you write that? If not, see if someone pinned it and drunk-bake sometime!

    • KimJ October 1, 2013 - 3:01 am Reply

      I actually own that cookbook! I bought it because I want to open a bar/bakery that serves alcohol flavored desserts and dessert flavored alcohol. It’s an awesome book!

  • Shauna September 30, 2013 - 9:42 pm Reply

    As a manager at Michaels, I really really appreciated that whole paragraph about Michaels. It is so true. And I’ve seen that look of fear on the non-crafty people’s faces, but it’s okay…we’re here to help… 🙂

    • ChickieD October 1, 2013 - 9:46 am Reply

      Every time i go into Michael’s, I feel the same way I did when I went through Sorority Rush (my mom said I’d make lots of friends; she was wrong). The feeling is “I am not one of you,” (also “Your dress is not expensive enough”). And by “you” I mean,people who like to arrange fake flowers into inexpensive vases with potpourri scent in there. Otherwise, cool place – so many fun things!

      • DigitalChick October 1, 2013 - 9:40 pm Reply

        Ha! That was exactly my experience when I went through Rush. My mom had loved being in a sorority and swore I would love it, too. She was wrong. So very, very wrong.

        • ChickieD October 2, 2013 - 8:19 am Reply

          GDI forever!

    • Catherine October 1, 2013 - 10:03 am Reply

      I wish you worked at my Michael’s. I can barely even find someone to ring my purchase when I want to leave!

  • Chelsea September 30, 2013 - 9:43 pm Reply

    Next time get the Tulip brand dye resist. Because I must be crazy, I decided to write out the entire poem “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe, then dye the shirt black (which ended up being gray because I was afraid of ruining the time and effort I invested into transcribing the poem) and aside from wanting to cut my fingers off after squeezing that damn bottle for eons, the project turned out really nicely!

    • Catherine October 1, 2013 - 10:02 am Reply

      I was fortunate enought to get to study Poe last semester. So many people only see the darkness, but there is such love in some of his works, too.

      • Chelsea October 1, 2013 - 2:06 pm Reply

        I agree! He was a truly brilliant writer.

  • Jill October 1, 2013 - 12:48 am Reply

    The bleach pen is far far superior.

  • Mollie Moses October 1, 2013 - 2:17 am Reply

    This sounds very much like making something in batik, except without the wax, which for the most part is messy as hell and gets over everything except the thing you want it on.

    Why BLUE gel glue? wouldn’t any other color work?

    The next time something calls for “non-water-permeable surface”, get a cheap plastic file folder. Works wonders. If you need something bigger than that, tape some plastic wrap or wax paper on the chunk of cardboard.

    [Ignore the “board” part of the word – what are CARDS made of? Yeah. Paper. So cardboard is basically a bunch of layers of squashed-down paper, and paper is what we commonly use to absorb moisture with (think: paper towels, toilet paper, blah blah blah)]

    I’m right there with you, kiddo. A for effort, definitely.

  • Midnite79 October 1, 2013 - 10:43 am Reply

    Hi Sonja! I’ve been a lurker/subscriber for awhile, but finally had to comment and let you know that I adore your site and your sense of humor. My best friend and I also use “colorful” language when we talk. People may say we talk like sailors, but I prefer to say we talk like sailors who moonlight as truckers 😉 Anyway, you’re so hilarious, I think I have a “girl crush” on you lol.

  • Ethne Hedren Denham October 1, 2013 - 5:03 pm Reply

    The cardboard looks like baby poop. Right on.

  • Getting Craftsy – Links from the Blogads Network | Blogads October 4, 2013 - 2:16 pm Reply

    […] The Pintester shares her adventures in creating Watermark Tees: […]

  • sadfaintpenisoutlinelver October 14, 2013 - 3:37 pm Reply

    You know i’ve also had the “sad faint outline of a penis” ordeal. I feel your pain.

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