Who says that reflective gear needs to be boring? Not me. You can buy reflective tape and reflective fabric by the yard, choose an image and create your own designs!
There are a few different types of reflective material, which I don't go into here, but I will tell you that I used Engineer Grade material that has glass beads that provide a retro-reflectivity . There is a great list of the different kinds here.
This Instructable gives you the images and the instructions to make two reflective sweatshirts.
1) skeleton ribcage and spine.
2) Floating japanese demon head. I was inspired by the thought of several biking together to give an impressive effect. Just imagine seeing a whole group of bikers wearing these! Seeing 10 Floating demon heads floating in the distance while you are driving at night would be fairly impressive and spooky.
Step 1: Gather Materials
- Bought or borrowed sweatshirt
- About 1 yard of reflective material by-the-yard depending on width.
I purchased mine from a local fabric store Britex in San Francisco, so I can't vouch for Seattle Fabrics. Reading the description does tell me that it uses the same glass bead technology and I've gotten many heat sealable and other fabrics from Seattle fabrics that I enjoy. If you find another source, particularly that is more reflective, please post in the comments!
- 1 yard of Heat 'N' Bond Ultra Hold
You can find this at local fabric stores, but I included an online link too.
- X-acto knife with extra blades
- Cutting Mat
- Scotch Magic tape
Step 2: Print Image
You can create your own image by opening one up in illustrator and live tracing it in the black and white logo setting or something similar. Examine it to see if it will translate well as a white and glowing figure, once cut and ironed. What are shadows will be glowing, sometimes that doesn't always work well.
A way to test this is to wand select all the black traced areas, fill with white, then cut and paste on a black background.
Or you can print the images below and tape them together, edge to edge. Start in the top left corner with number 1 and go around clockwise. This is also shown in the video.
Step 3: Make Reflective Material Iron-On
Before the reflective material is cut, it will need to be made iron-on, this is what the Heat 'N' Bond is for. I love this stuff, I use it to build lots of projects. Definitely one to keep in your soft goods work area. You can also get it in 1" rolls. :)
- Determine how big of a piece of reflective material you will need and cut the dimension out, leaving extra width and lengthwise. You can just fuse the back of all the material, but if you want to save some reflective or Heat 'N' Bond, you will only want to fuse what you need.
- Place the reflective material right side face down on the ironing board.
- Place the Heat 'N' Bond, adhesive side down, hold in place and iron on top with a medium heat setting. Let cool completely and check the adhesion. If you need more heat turn up the temp slowly, if you apply too much it can warp your material and liquify the adhesive, which makes it difficult to work with.
- Smooth the iron over the entire area until all of it is covered. Once done, keep the paper on. You are ready to cut!
Step 4: Place Image and Cut
- Take the reflective material and your image to a cutting mat. Place the image on top of the reflective side and tape down the sides so it doesn't move while you cut.
- Use a x-acto with a new blade and start cutting! This will take some time, it took me about 20 minutes to finish the ribcage. Take breaks, go slow and don't be afraid to go outside the lines. I made small alterations as I went to the image.
- Once everything is cut, carefully remove paper and use Scotch Magic tape to tape all of your cut pieces down. Use long pieces to secure the pieces to the piece you cut it from. This will keep the image in place and all your pieces in place as you move it to your sweatshirt.
Step 5: Transfer to Sweatshirt and Iron
Transfer to Sweatshirt
- Take the sweatshirt to the ironing board, secure it by pinning at the bottom and top, as well as smoothing it out around the hem where the ribbing pulls the fabric in.
- Place the cut and taped reflective material on top. Start to carefully pull up the tape, freeing up the cut pieces. Rip the tape into smaller pieces and use them to tape the cut pieces down to the sweatshirt.
- Do this for all the pieces until you can remove the whole piece of fabric leaving the cut pieces secured to the sweatshirt.
- I ended up removing the really small pieces and placing them after removing the fabric substrate.
- Inspect the layout, making sure things are aligned as you want them. Once you are happy with the placement, start taking the backing off of the pieces and ironing them down one by one.
- If you think the heat of your iron may damage the reflective fabric, using a piece of thin cotton as a press cloth. A press cloth transfers the heat, but acts as a buffer between the iron's surface and a material that may melt upon contact with it.
- Keep ironing and checking the alignment as you go. Once it cools completely, you may need to touch up and attach some edges that were missed. Make sure everything is melted fully and enjoy!
**Notes on Washing
Hand wash your garment with cold water and hang to dry. The Heat 'N' Bond adhesive is machine washable, but the reflective material can be more delicate and sensitive to heat, depending on what you use.