teenage mutant ninja turtles

i had so much fun this summer creating designs with expressions vinyl that i had to do some more. i took my 6 year old son to see TMNT this summer, yes it's rated PG13 but i thought i would give it a shot. we didn't make it through the whole movie, he got scared and i wasn't going to force him to watch it. i think he could have made it and saw it all turned out ok. at any rate, he has been a fan of the turtles without really knowing much about them. i thought it would be a fun idea to make some shirts. he loves all the turtles so i couldn't pick just one. i, of course, turned to expressions vinyl for help, they have a great selection of colors and i knew i would be able to find lots of different greens. below was my material list. i also turned to another local company that has been helping me find what i need lately, eat more tees, again i knew i could find a variety of greens. like people no two turtles are the same, right?

12 x 12 sheets of heat transfer vinyl (i like the EasyWeed)
red
purple
orange
sky blue

12x 24 sheets of heat transfer vinyl
2 green
2 black
2 yellow
2 lime green

i used gildan t-shirts in 
military green
kiwi
forest green
irish green

i used mostly the same process as i did this summer for the monsters t-shirts. here s a link back to that post for reference. 

i first start by drawing out my designs using adobe illustrator. i also use a wacom tablet. i design the whole thing and then break it apart into the colors which i will cut on my silhouette cameo. so this is where i start. i started with the shells being back of the shirts.

i knew that the shell would be made of 3 layers, outer shell color, inner shell color and accent swirls. once i separate them, i save each part as a .png in illustrator and open it in silhouette studio in order to trace them and cut them out. 

this is the shell in silhouette studio. the right side is the large shell to be cut in one color, on the left a slightly smaller version to be cut in another color. the swirls are not shown yet.

this is the shell in silhouette studio. the right side is the large shell to be cut in one color, on the left a slightly smaller version to be cut in another color. the swirls are not shown yet.

once the pieces are cut i start constructing the t-shirts. in the examples below, i switch between shirts but the process is all the same for each shirt.

these are the original t-shirt colors without designs.

these are the original t-shirt colors without designs.

bottom layer cut in black

bottom layer cut in black

i like to use the transfer tape in order to pick up my designs and keep the spacing in the correct positions.

place the transfer tape, sticky side down on your design. it won't mess up your vinyl because the heat transfer vinyl has a protective layer on it. then i turn my cutting mat over and slow peel the whole design off the mat. then i take the design to the ironing board. my iron is set on a cotton setting with NO STEAM. that's very important. i iron directly on the transfer tape. when you peel it off the shirt, it take the protective layer of the heat transfer vinyl off with it. i also don't move my iron back and forth, i first let it set for a few seconds in one section at a time.

the transfer tape takes up many of the protective covering. you can see in the upper right corner that piece didn't come up. i use my fingernails to peel that piece off.

the transfer tape takes up many of the protective covering. you can see in the upper right corner that piece didn't come up. i use my fingernails to peel that piece off.

the protective covering is stuck to the transfer tape.

the protective covering is stuck to the transfer tape.

then i place the second layer on top of the first layer. then i iron that in place, the most important step here it to iron with wax paper or parchment paper covering your design. if you iron directly on the design without the parchment or wax paper you will melt your first layer to  your iron and that's a bad thing!

next came cutting out the swirls. because they were small and the swirls were tight the silhouette cameo didn't like my idea as much as i did. in the end i didn't want to keep wasting and ruining my vinyl or i ended up cutting them by hand and i decided to not make as many swirls.

coveredswirl.jpg

i set the swirls and then using my parchment ironed them in place. once i placed them all that finished the back shell design.

once the backs were done and cooled, i started the front designs.

again, i design the whole look in illustrator and then divide them up by color.

again, i design the whole look in illustrator and then divide them up by color.

here are the pieces broken apart in colors in silhouette studio.

here are the pieces broken apart in colors in silhouette studio.

i used back for the pupils and the mouth. for the chin, i used whatever the base color for the bottom layer of the shell, i consider that to be the true color of the turtle. i used white for the eyes and then used the traditional TMNT colors for the bandanas for each of the turtles. 

in order to correctly make the eye, i original cut them as ovals. then i lined them up on the bandana and cut them with scissors so they would match up perfectly. in the picture above i am placing everything and then cutting down the whites of the eyes.

use the parchment paper to place and iron down the eyes.

use the parchment paper to place and iron down the eyes.

as a small detail i put the initials of all the turtles on the sleeve. you may notice that there are no weapons, i debated on adding a small detail of weapon to the other sleeve but since my boys are young i decided i didn't need to add it.

final front designs

final front designs

final back designs

final back designs

so that's it, finished the shirts. i like the way they came out. so now you know how to work with laying the heat transfer vinyl and how to make your own TMNT shirts. if you don't have the time or the means you can also order these designs on my etsy store.