DIY / fashion / Style

DIY Retro Camera Graphic Tee




I love vintage and thrift shopping, don’t you?  There is something fulfilling about finding that unique piece at an incredible deal.  Since moving here to sunny CA, I had the treat of  checking out a few large flea markets in the area. Today’s DIY is inspired from one of my favorite thrifting finds and that is a vintage camera.  I just love the industrial and chic design in this piece– This camera gave me the idea to make some simple graphic designs for tops! So let’s get started shall we?



I will show you 2 methods on how you can make this top, one with transfer paper and one without if you don’t have a inkjet printer.


For the first method, you will need a color inkjet printer, laser printers will not work.  We are using thermal print paper and the heat from the laser printer will melt the paper.  You will also need iron on transfer paper or fabric transfer.  You can buy this at any craft or office supply store.

You will also need an iron and white or light color tee shirts.  It’s recommended that you use lighter colors when using transfer iron-on as darker tees won’t show the art.

Finally, if you want to add a extra personal touch, you will need some permanent fabric markers.

First step is to find a picture you like.  I did a google search for “vintage camera drawing.”  Then I selected high-resolution photos that were my favorites.  I also combined photos I liked with words.  I don’t own or have any rights to any of these pictures, so I decided to just post a link of the Google search I used.

Next edit the pictures on a photo-software like Photoshop or GIMP to adjust the size and placement.   I made a new 8.5 x 11 white composition that’s 300 dpi resolution.  If you don’t have or can’t afford Photoshop, GIMP is a great FREE alternative.  It’s open source and there are a lot of tutorials on YouTube of how to use it.


Open your picture and drag the photo onto your composition or copy and paste.  Next, adjust the photo with the free transform tool.  This will help you scale up the image to fit your shirt.  Remember, if you are using a photo with text, then mirror the image or your words will appear in reverse on your shirt.  Lastly save the photo and print.  I recommend printing on a normal sheet of paper first to make sure it looks like what you are going for.

Once your paper is printed, let the ink dry for at least 5 minutes.  Next, cut out the excess paper around your picture.

Heat up your iron at high temp with no steam.  Preiron the shirt to remove any wrinkles, then turn your picture face down on the tee and iron it on with steady pressure for 2 minutes.  Let it cool to room temperature then peel off the backing paper.  This is machine washable with cool water.

Image I used:

Camera 1

Camera 2

Camera 3

Camera 4

*disclaimer: I do not own any of these photos.


Ok, don’t have transfer paper or an ink jet printer?  Technique two would work perfect for you.  You will need a light colored t-shirt, some pins and fabric markers.

Start by editing and printing out your image.  For this method, before printing, I like to bump up the contrast and reduce the brightness of the image.  A darker image is better for this technique then a lighter image.


Take a magazine and put it inside the shirt under where you are going to draw the design, then put your picture on top of that.  You should be able to see the image through the cloth.  If not, try in a brightly lit room.  Once you position your image where you like it, use your pins to pin the image to your shirt.


Next, with a steady hand, using a permanent fabric marker, trace out the main lines of your image for the overall silhouette.  Pull out the image, but not the magazine so you can use it as reference and color in the details on your shirt.  Use light applications of the color.  Let it dry overnight.  Once dry, it is machine washable as well!

Don’t limit yourself to just cameras.  You can expand this to many other pieces of printed art, both on Google as well as self made and designed stuff.  Have fun with this and get creative!



5 comments on “DIY Retro Camera Graphic Tee”

  1. Hey Ann! While watching your video for the DIY camera tee shirt, i noticed a picture of doughnuts sitting on your printer. I thought it would be a pretty neat idea to make a tee shirt with some doughnuts on it. Would it be possible if you could send me the link for that picture? It would make my day 🙂 thanks! xoxo

    1. I actually made a doughnut tee for Vincent… it was super cute. If you do a google search you will find plenty 😉 xo

  2. Hi Ann! If we use the transfer paper method, then would everything that we iron onto the t-shirt be reversed? (Just wondering) Thanks!

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