80’s Inspired Splatter Painted Shirts

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80s inspired splatter painted shirts

This post may contain affiliate links. I will receive a small commission from these sales at no additional cost to you!

When I was growing up in the 80’s and early 90’s, every good sleepover party involved decorating your own t-shirt (or shoes!) with Tulip® Soft® and 3D paints. I remember giggling with my girlfriends, talking about boys, spending hours on our puffy painted creations and wearing them proudly ALL the time. If you don’t remember what I’m talking about, just check out this nostalgic video from I Love to Create…

YouTube video

Haha, that’s a total blast from the past, right?! Tulip asked us to create an updated version of one of these classic looks, and my boys were excited to accept the challenge!

80’s Inspired Splatter Painted Shirts

supplies for making splatter painted shirts

We received a box of goodies that included Tulip® Soft® Fabric Paint and Tulip® Dimensional Fabric Paint (commonly referred to as “puffy paint”). There are a ton of different 80’s inspired motifs and techniques – graffiti, sponge painting, squiggles, applique, etc. – but the two things that stood out to us and begged to be recreated were the use of geometric patterns and splatter painting. I have BOYS…of course, they wanted to splatter paint!

freezer paper stencil and masking

We started out by cutting some freezer paper stencils for our 100% cotton t-shirts – you can read more about freezer paper stenciling here. I ironed the stencils on to the shirts and then ironed on additional pieces of freezer paper to protect the areas of our shirts that we didn’t want to paint. Be sure to also put a layer of paper inside of the shirt so that the paint doesn’t bleed through to the back side.

splatter painting supplies on paper plates outside in yard

Stiff bristled brushes work best for splattering the paint. Make sure that you are working in an area that can handle any extra paint splatter that might not make it on to the shirts or your paper. We painted ours on our side yard out of sight and away from foot traffic.

stencil laid on shirt with splatter paint on top

Dip the brushes in the paint and start splattering! There’s really no right or wrong way to splatter, but we did find that keeping the brush close to the shirt and flicking your wrist gave the best results (and made the least amount of extra paint mess). An old toothbrush works great for making small dots – just load it up with paint and use your finger to manipulate the bristles to create the splatter.

cool splatter painted shirt reveal photo collage

Peel up the freezer paper stencils while the paint is still wet. If you wait until the paint is dry you will run the risk of peeling the paint off of the shirt with the stencil. Sutton’s shirt was more sparsely splattered, so his geometric patterns are subtle, but he thinks it’s the coolest shirt ever!

cool splatter painted shirt reveal photo collage

Sawyer solidly painted over his stencil and then splattered on top of it, so his houndstooth pattern is crisp and clean. Honestly though, I was sad to have to peel up his stencil because I thought his shirt looked SO cool with the solid square of splatter paint! We will have to revisit this technique again without the stencils next time! Sawyer loves the houndstooth pattern though because he thinks “it looks like a really cool skater shirt.”

cool splatter painted shirt reveal photo collage

I made my own neon pink and honeycomb version, but the camera was having a really hard time photographing the pink. Trust me when I say that it is at least ten times brighter in person!

kid rocking green diy splatter painted tee

These guys are so proud of their new shirts – just like I was back in the 80’s and 90’s!

child wearing homemade splatter painted tee

I couldn’t resist making a pair of shoes while we had the paints out. I’ll share the technique that I used next week, but here’s a sneak peek!

diy geometric triangle diy stamped shoes

Tulip continues to be a craft favorite in households today! In addition to Tulip Soft Paints and Dimensional Fabric paints included in my post, Tulip is known for it’s wide variety of Fashion Glitters, Glam it up Crystals, Fabric Markers and One-Step Tie Dye!

In fact, all this summer Tulip is bringing tie dye to the masses with their Tie Dye Your Summer campaign! Visit their Tie Dye Your Summer site at Tie Dye Your Summer.

Image of text that says Heidi


  1. Those are so cool! I think the houndstooth is my favorite, but I really like the stencil + splatter concept! Well done!

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