This project is both super cheap and very customizable. It uses a sort of a half-stencil to create a simple pattern on your fabric of choice — here I've used cotton jersey, which doesn't need to be hemmed, and is stretchy enough to make a comfortable headband or headscarf.
To make one, cut a 3-inch strip from an old t-shirt (I bought an XL men's t-shirt for a dollar at the local Goodwill). Tie the strip around your head, and trim the ends to the length you want.
You'll notice that one side of the fabric curls up; you'll want to print on the convex side of the knit (at right, below). If you print on the side shown at left, it'll get all rolled up and you won't see it!
Cut a roughly rectangular shape from a piece of cereal box cardboard. Trim one edge into the shape you want to print. I wanted a simple half-circle for a vaguely fish-scale kind of a look; you could try a zig-zag, or multiple half-circles, or just a straight line. Just keep the shape simple, for the best results.
Grab some fabric paint and a brush. Hold the cardboard onto the fabric, near one end of the strip. Brush paint on the shape and onto the fabric. All of your brush strokes should go from cardboard-to-fabric, never fabric-to-cardboard, or you'll get bleeding along the edge. But this is a loose, sketchy design, so if your edge isn't clean, whatever. It's part of the handmade charm!
Move the shape down an inch or so and repeat.
About a third of the way down the strip, I added some aqua blue to my yellow paint and swirled it around. By the time I reached the end of the strip, I was using almost all aqua blue. You could choose to alternate colors, too, though you should use a second cardboard shape and brush to avoid cross-contamination.
Let the paint dry, and that's it — you're done!
If you don't mind a little clean-up work, this project would be great for a playdate or even a summer birthday party. You gotta love an activity that creates its own party favors!
I'm Debbie Way, an artist and writer who enjoys making things.