Tutorial: Solar Printed T-Shirt

Learn how to use Lumi Inkodye, solar activated ink to create a high quality, printed t-shirt design.I was wandering the aisles of Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts a few weeks ago when I discovered a small display of Lumi Inkodye. I have enjoyed a few fabric dyeing projects in my day and have even experimented with screen printing, but I had never seen anything like the Inkodye before.

It's solar activated. So you spread it on your fabric, set it out in the sun, and whatever sections of the ink are exposed to the sun, dye the fabric. The ink that's not exposed washes out.

I simply had to give it a try. I was not disappointed by the result. The crisp lettering looks as if it could have been screen printed. The best part is, it's 1000 times easier than screen printing.


  • Lumi Inkodye Snap Pack
  • Lumi Inkowash Sachet
  • Silhouette Cameo
  • Contact paper or vinyl
  • t-shirt
  • cardboard
  • clothespins
  • disposable plate
  • foam brush


Before you begin, wash and dry your shirt. Skip the fabric softener when you are laundering it.

Next, create a stencil of your design.

I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut the words "Create Happiness" out of Contact paper.
Remove the paper backing and stick the stencil onto your shirt.

Design Tip: When you print a design on a t-shirt, the top edge of the printed area should be at least 2 1/2 inches (about four finger widths) below the neckline of a crew neck shirt or 1 1/4 inches (about two finger widths) below a v-neck.
Slide a piece of cardboard into the shirt so the ink won't bleed through to the back of the shirt.

Secure the shirt in place with a few clothespins so it won't shift as you apply the ink.
You will need to work in a shaded room for the next part. I just closed the curtains in my studio and left the lights off. Also, make sure you work in a well ventilated are because the dye has a pretty strong scent, like hair coloring.

Shake up the Inkodye packet and squirt it onto a disposable plate. Use your foam brush to stir up the dye on the plate.
Use your foam brush to pounce (not brush) the ink onto the shirt.

Make sure that your lettering is completely covered with ink, but don't over do it. The material should be damp, not sopping wet.
Carefully take your shirt outside and place it in the sun so it is completely exposed and there are no odd shadows over it.
Within 3-5 minutes, the ink is already starting to darken.
After 20-25 minutes, it looks perfect. (I don't think you can really overexpose the dye.)
When you are happy with the color, take your shirt back inside to your dark room and carefully peel off your Contact paper or vinyl stencil.

Finally, wash your shirt twice, using the Inkowash. Lumi recommends using a hot wash/cold rinse cycle. (I used a warm wash/cold rinse cycle because I was afraid my shirt might shrink and it turned out just fine.)

After that, your shirt is ready wear and you can show off your one of a kind style!

Learn how to use Lumi Inkodye, solar activated ink to create a high quality, printed t-shirt design.

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The Chilly Dog: Tutorial: Solar Printed T-Shirt
Tutorial: Solar Printed T-Shirt
Learn how to use Lumi Inkodye, solar activated ink to create a high quality, printed t-shirt design.
The Chilly Dog
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