EPCOT has a new future on the horizon, but its beloved pavilion logos that were developed as a part of the original EPCOT Center will remain. In fact, there have been several new logos added to the set depicting attractions and areas that have yet to be developed. Whether you are a child of the 80s humming “Tomorrow’s Child” or you are looking forward to traveling along the Journey of Water, you can share your love of EPCOT with one of these DIY EPCOT Tees.
Please note, various steps of this DIY project involve the use of either a hot iron, an X-ACTO knife, and bleach. It is best that these shirts be completed by an adult.
Here is what you will need:
- 100% cotton t-shirt in your size and color choice, washed, dried, and ironed (When selecting the color of your shirt, it is important to consider what color will remain once the bleach is applied. In many cases, it will be a washed-out, very light version of the original color of the shirt, as in the teal shirt pictured above. However, as can been seen above with the gray shirt, sometimes a very different shade will appear.)
- liquid Bleach
- small spray bottle (usually found in the travel/toiletries section)
- freezer paper
- heavy cardboard (large enough to fit all the way across the inside of the shirt)
- X-ACTO knife
- printer and plain white paper
- large counter space that will not be damaged by heat or bleach over-spray
- washer and laundry detergent
First, you must select which EPCOT design you would like on your t-shirt. The two t-shirts in this demonstration are the original EPCOT Center logo (in teal) and the Spaceship Earth logo (in gray). Make your selection and re-size it to fit the area of the shirt where you are planning to place it. The teal shirt’s design is approximately seven inches around and was placed in the center of the chest. The gray shirt’s design is about six and a half inches around and was placed in the lower right corner of the shirt.
Next, trace your design choice onto the matte side of the freezer paper. Freezer paper has a matte side and a glossy side.
Then, carefully cut out your design. Depending on what you choose, you may be able to cut out large portions with scissors, but you will most likely need to cut out interior sections with an X-ACTO knife. It is very important that your freezer paper design does not get crumpled or bent. If it does, you will need to trace and cut out a new one. Also, if your design includes small interior pieces that will need to remain (as in the classic EPCOT logo seen below) leave a small branch connecting those pieces. It will help when it comes time to lay out the pattern on your shirt. Those teeny, tiny pieces would be very difficult to place and iron-on if they were loose and separate!
Once you have finished cutting out your design, prepare your workspace. First, make sure you are working in a large ventilated area and that your workspace is a surface that will not be damaged by heat or bleach. If you are unsure whether or not your surface will be damaged by bleach or heat, lay down an old towel or sheet. If possible, try to position yourself near your kitchen sink. It will be beneficial when it is time to rinse out your shirt.
Now, tuck your large piece of cardboard inside your shirt. It is important that the cardboard piece is the same width as your shirt because when it comes time to spray it with the bleach solution, if any portion of the front of the shirt is touching the back of the shirt, the bleach will soak through. It is not necessary to put cardboard in the sleeves unless you are planning to position a portion of your design on the sleeves. After you have positioned the cardboard, make sure your shirt is spread out nice and flat.
Next, place your freezer paper design glossy side down where you would like it to appear on your shirt. It is critical that the glossy side of the freezer paper is the side touching the fabric of your shirt. This small amount of gloss will work as an adhesive when it is ironed down, thus temporarily adhering your pattern to your shirt and creating a barrier between your shirt and the bleach solution. Set your iron to the cotton/high setting, and iron your design in place. Slowly move the iron around over your design while applying pressure. Be careful not to drag or tear the freezer paper. Check to make sure that all of the freezer paper has adhered to the fabric, and go back over any areas that may be loose, ensuring that they are stuck tight. At this stage, if you chose a design that required you to leave small bridge pieces attached, you will need to take your X-ACTO knife and carefully slice through the bridges and gently remove them (be sure to only cut through the paper, so as to avoid making any snags or holes in the fabric of your shirt). Once the freezer paper has completely adhered, turn off your iron, unplug it, and remove it from the work area.
Move over to your sink because it is time to make your bleach solution. Fill the small spray bottle half full of bleach and fill it the rest of the way with water. No need to shake or mix it in any way. Typically, the strength and spread of the spray bottle can be adjusted by twisting the spray nozzle. Test your sprayer on the inside of your sink (as long as it will not be damaged by the bleach). You may need to adjust your nozzle either further open or closed to achieve a very light, gentle mist. Rinse your sink and fill it about three inches deep with cold water. You will need this to rinse your shirt later.
Now, it is time for a very important decision! Which of the bleach effects in the photo at the beginning of the post do you like better? If you like the tie-dye look of the teal shirt, you will need to spray your shirt more heavily. If you like the look of the gray shirt, this will require just a light mist, but slightly more time. It is important to note that the bleaching effect will not happen immediately. It will take about twenty to thirty seconds to notice any change at all, so regardless of your choice, do not continue to spray the shirt because you think nothing is happening! The teal shirt was sprayed heavily (maybe seven to eight times) and then sat for about one minute. It allowed some of the bleach to soak under the edges of the freezer paper. The gray shirt was sprayed very lightly, probably only four to five spritzes and then was allowed to sit for about one minute and forty-five seconds. It is the moment of truth; spray your shirt over your design. If your freezer paper looks like it is peeling up, DO NOT TRY TO RE-IRON IT at this stage! It is also important to note that different colors of shirts may take a different amount of spray or time for the change to occur, but it is always best to err on the side of less spray than more.
Once you are happy with the amount of color the bleach has removed, quickly move your shirt (with the cardboard still inside) over to your water-filled sink. In one swift motion, remove the cardboard and dunk your shirt in the cold water. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to put on a pair of disposable gloves for the next part. With the shirt submerged, peel off the freezer paper pattern to reveal the image showing through in the original color of the t-shirt. Continue to dunk your shirt in the water for sixty seconds, drain the sink, and rinse the shirt in clean cold water. Wring out most of the water, and transfer your shirt to your washer. Wash the shirt by itself in cold water with your normal detergent. At the end of the wash cycle, dry your shirt on low heat.
Now, for the best step of all: Take a selfie while wearing your new DIY EPCOT tee and share it on the WDW Radio Box People group Facebook page!
This same method can be used to make shirts with a silhouette of your favorite character or park icon. Let us know what design you would like to try and share your DIY Epcot Tees with us on the WDW Radio Box People group Facebook page!
(All photos from the author’s personal collection.)