One of my 2014 resolutions was to gain weight. I had always been thin, almost scrawny, and putting on mass was difficult for me. It took quite a bit of work but I succeeded. That downside was none of my cool t-shirts fit anymore. I donated quite a few but kept my favorites in the back of my closet while I figured out what to do with them. I wanted to keep the imagery and designs, but not necessarily the tee shirt shape itself. When I saw a few pre-stretched canvases on sale, the idea was born!
T-shirt of some kind (preferably washed)
Step 1: Sizing It Up
This project couldn't be easier. Simply place the canvas over the design you want to turn into art. In this case I'm using a shirt my fiance picked up for me at a concert, I really want to preserve the band name. Once you're happy with the location, cut roughly 1-2 inches outside of the canvas. It doesn't have to be precise as you'll be stretching the t-shirt to get a nice snug fit. After the cutting is done, flip the square over so the design is face down and set the canvas down in the center.
Step 2: Stretching and Stapling
Choose one side to start with, this becomes the top. Fold the top over the frame of the canvas and use the staple gun to shoot 3-4 staples through the fabric and into the frame. Keep them evenly spaced along the top edge, and leave the corners somewhat loose. Once you're done with that, pull the bottom edge until it's snug, but not too stretched. Keeping everything tight flip over the whole piece and check to make sure the image isn't too distorted. If it looks good to you, flip it back over and staple the bottom edge to the frame. Don't worry if there are wrinkles or pleats running parallel with the unstapled sides, those should disappear when you stretch and staple the last two side. Speaking of:
Stretch and staple the last two sides, just like you did the top and bottom.
Step 3: Folding the Corners
If you simple pull the fabric over the corner, the fabric will try to bunch up. There are ways to use this to your advantage and come up with some great looking designs. Feel free to experiment.
For a clean corner, I've found this technique to work really well. First pinch the fabric tight and let the crease make a line that connects the inside corner with the outside corner. Pull the fabric towards the inside corner. Keeping everything tight, fold the fabric over itself to one side and then staple down the flap. Put the crease right in the center of the staple gun as that will make sure to lock everything down snugly. If you need to, this can be repeated until you get a clean corner.
Step 4: Finishing It Off
Now that everything is secure, use the staple gun to finish attaching the shirt to the frame. Within reason, more staples means there is less chance of something ripping. I spaced mine about every inch and a half or so. If any staples stick up, simply use a hammer to gently tap them down firm. In fact, it's not a bad idea to give every staple a few taps to seat them down.
And with that, you're done! You can frame the piece if you want, make a shadow box for it, or hang it as is!