Upcycle Clothes: Refashion Plaid Shirts into Boho Farm Style Beauties

It’s never been easier to upcycle clothes – just IOD them! 😀

In this refashion tutorial, Rhonda, one of our lovely IOD stockists and the talent behind the Fruitful Life Studio in Exeter, CA, shows you everything you need to know to transform an ordinary plaid shirt into a one-of-a-kind beauty.

No time now? Pin this post for later.

Watch the short, 12-minute video tutorial below, or keep reading for a supply list and step-by-step instructions (and don’t forget to Subscribe to Rhonda’s YouTube channel 😀).

Here’s everything you need to upcycle clothes and refashion shirts with IOD stamps

All IOD products can be purchased from an approved stockist. To find a shop local to you, click here. To find an online store, click here.

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  • All your favorite IOD stamps (we’ll let you know which ones she used with each refashioned shirt at the end of this post)
  • Decor Ink by IOD in colors that compliment your shirt (don’t be afraid to mix as Rhonda does)
  • Blank IOD ink pads
  • Thin mount with gridlines by IOD (optional: This will help keep your letters straight if using an alphabet letter stamp)
  • Textile detergent (optional, but helps remove any previous fabric softener buildup)
  • deColorant gel spray (You could also use bleach, but it’s not as easy to use as deColorant and you run the risk of accidentally damaging the shirt fibers)
  • Spray bottle and water (optional: To mix 50/50 with the deColorant)
  • Fabric shears
  • Steam iron
  • 100% cotton plaid shirt
  • Lace scraps from thrifts shirts (optional)
  • Freezer paper (optional, to protect and easily wipe up work surface as you’re stamping)
  • Low tack tape (optional, to mask and protect previously stamped designs)

To make DIY fabric appliques:

  • 100% cotton dyed t-shirt (thrifted, new or dug out from the bottom of your closet)
  • Double-sided fusible web
  • Wooden craft stick to put the deColorant on the blank ink pad
  • Blank ink pad by IOD
  • Steam iron
  • Beginner sewing machine (optional, you can also easily hand stitch in which case you’d need a needle and thread)

Upcycle Clothes and Refashion Plaid Shirts Tutorial with IOD Stamps

Step 1: Prep & distress your plaid flannel shirt

Trim off some of the edges of the shirt, without cutting the hem, with sharp sewing shears. This will allow the shirt to gently fray when washed without shredding it.

Wash and dry the cotton shirt without using any fabric softener. If you can, use a textile detergent that removes any fabric softener buildup on the fibers, as this will improve your stamped impression.

Step 2: Lighten different areas of the fabric to suit your style

You can use bleach for this step, but Rhonda discovered that spraying the shirt with a 50/50 mixture of water and deColorant was much easier.

Follow the directions on the deColorant for use and safety.

Spray the deColorant mixture and then use a steam iron to lift the color to her desired lightness.

Steam iron to lift the dye from the upcyle clothes

Wash the shirt again to make sure all deColorant is removed before stamping.

Step 3: Stamp the decolorized areas of the shirt

Note: If this is your first time using IOD Stamps, check out this product basics tutorial to learn how to condition and care for your stamps.

Choose a decor ink color that complements (or contrasts) the plaid colors. Rhonda used a variety of colors and even mixed some (for example, China Blue and Black to get navy) when stamping.

Regardless of the ink color or stamp you choose to use, the basic steps are the same:

  • Lay the IOD stamp on your work surface design side up
  • Bring the loaded ink pad to the stamp and pat it repeatedly to load up the design surface with ink; when stamping fabric, you want to make sure the stamp is extra ‘juicy’ meaning has lots of ink on it, because the fabric will absorb the ink
  • Hover the loaded stamp over where you want to stamp – and then press it down – commit and don’t shift; When stamping fabric be sure to hold down the stamp a bit longer than usual so the fibers have time to absorb the ink
  • Lift the stamp straight up to avoid smudging your design
  • If you’re done with that stamp, put it in a bin of warm soapy water to make cleanup easier.
refashion plaid flannel shirt to boho style
IOD Bohemia Stamp for the edging

Remember, you can always mask with low-tack painter’s tape to avoid making an impression where you don’t want it – as Rhonda did below where she only wanted the stamped design on the pocket.

Masking where stamps would otherwise overlay

You can stop here if you don’t want to make the stamped fabric appliques – stamped shirts are beautiful all by themselves. In this case, you want to heat set the stamped designs by running a hot iron (no steam) over the stamped impressions on your shirt before wearing or washing.

Step 4: Create your own boho style DIY fabric appliques

Fill a blank ink pad with deColourant using a wooden craft stick. Then stamp the thrifted t-shirts using the same techniques as in Step 3.

IOD Retro Stamp to write the word”Farm”

(You can also use Soft Scrub with Bleach as shown by Funkiture Gifts in this tutorial – no need to steam iron.)

Don’t worry if you smudge or otherwise don’t get a good impression because you can re-stamp with IOD Decor Ink at a bit of an offset. This will create a beautiful effect of highlights and lowlights.

Painterly Rose Stamp – First stamped with deColorant and then off-set stamped with IOD Decor Ink as a low light.

Next, cut out the double-sided fusible web so that it lines up with your stamped upcycled t-shirts.

Iron the DIY fabric applique adhere it to the back (non-stamped side) of the fabric.

Cut out around the shape of the stamped impression.

IOD Butterflies Stamp

Arrange the appliques on your upcycled clothes. You can layer them, as in the one below, or you can simply place one here and there.

Arranging the DIY fabric appliques made with the IOD Lady of Shalott Stamp

After you’ve decided where you want the DIY appliques, carefully cut open the fusible web using a sharp-pointed tool to make it easier to peel off the backing.

Step 5: Attach the DIY fabric appliques to your refashioned shirt

First, iron the boho-stamped appliques on your shirt — following the directions on the fusible web packaging. This adheres the applique to the shirt.

Rhonda recommends the additional step of securing it with a straight stitch – either by sewing machine or by hand – to create a handmade look. This will also give the shirt extra durability in the wash.

You can hand-stitch or use a sewing machine to stitch a straight running stitch. This would be the time to add any thrifted or dyed laces to accent the appliques.

Pavo and Bohemia Stamps by IOD
Lady of Shalott Stamp by IOD
Retro, Typesetting and Bohemia Stamps by IOD

Like this post? You might also enjoy these IOD tutorials:

Do you love to refashion and upcycle clothes? Are no-sew craft projects are your jam?

Let us know in the comments below and tell us if there are any other no-sew tutorials you want to see with IOD products.

Now, go make something beautiful! ❤️

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  1. Carla Henderson on February 18, 2021 at 8:20 am

    I can’t believe this is your first video and how to. Very well described and instructed. Repurposing clothing is a favorite for myself and this will be good fun. Flannel shirts for winter are my go to and ready for some upcycling. Keep sharing!

    • IOD Customer Service IOD Customer Service on February 24, 2021 at 11:59 am

      Isn’t Rhonda amazing?! ❤️❤️❤️

    • Rhonda Church Finfrock on February 26, 2021 at 6:39 am

      Thank you, Carla. Yes, this is the first of my series: Refashion With IOD. I plan on making several more videos using IOD products to refashion clothing and home decor items.

  2. Barbara Black on February 18, 2021 at 12:56 pm

    I love this!!!!! you are the bomb!!!

    • IOD Customer Service IOD Customer Service on February 24, 2021 at 11:59 am

      Thanks Barbara!!! So glad you loved it. Our lovely stockist Rhonda did an amazing job with this project ❤️

    • Rhonda Church Finfrock on February 26, 2021 at 6:41 am

      Thank you, Barabara. This process is so much fun so I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Lori Rome on February 23, 2021 at 5:03 pm

    This was FANTASTIC!! I’m off the pillage my closets, and wait for my decolorant to arrive 🙂 Thank you!

    • IOD Customer Service IOD Customer Service on February 24, 2021 at 11:58 am

      Ha ha ha! Love it, Lori! So glad inspiration has struck you with this post! ❤️

    • Rhonda Church Finfrock on February 26, 2021 at 6:42 am

      Lori, I am glad I inspired you and would love to see some of your creations over on the tribe page!

    • Debbie Patterson on October 18, 2022 at 5:57 am

      stamping direct on flannel, is there a process you use? I tried stamping direct, but it washed out the pattern completely on the flannel.

      • IOD Customer Service IOD Customer Service on October 18, 2022 at 12:47 pm

        Hi Debbie! In this video, Rhonda had stamped fabric and sewn those stamped pieces on to the flannel. As far as yours washing out, are you washing with cold water on a delicate cycle? Also, be sure to really stamp it on nice and juicy! That way the fabric is really soaking in that ink🤗

  4. Robin Siciliano on February 23, 2021 at 5:19 pm

    Wow! I’m a huge fan of this tutorial and your insane creativity! Well done. Very well done.

    • IOD Customer Service IOD Customer Service on February 24, 2021 at 11:57 am

      Isn’t it amazing?! Our lovely stockist Robin hit it out of the park with this one! 😄

    • Rhonda Church Finfrock on February 26, 2021 at 6:44 am

      Thank you, Robin. I am very passionate about upcycling and can’t wait to create more shirts.

  5. Polly on February 23, 2021 at 5:26 pm

    I love this unique fashion craft!! Can’t wait to try it out on my plaids & more!!

    • IOD Customer Service IOD Customer Service on February 24, 2021 at 11:57 am

      Absolutely!!! We feel the same way! 😄

    • Rhonda C Finfrock on February 26, 2021 at 6:48 am

      Yes, this technique can be used with any natural fiber apparel! Have fun creating.

  6. Debbie Snell on February 24, 2021 at 4:16 am

    This tutorial is fabulous and easy to understand. I can’t wait to try these techniques. Love IOD and the creative tribe.

    • IOD Customer Service IOD Customer Service on February 24, 2021 at 11:56 am

      So glad you loved this one, Debbie! ❤️ Didn’t Rhonda do an amazing job with this project?! 😄

    • Rhonda C Finfrock on February 26, 2021 at 6:47 am

      Thanks, Debbie! I can’t wait until I have time to make more shirts. I just went to a local thrift store and found many more shirts to upcycle.

  7. Sheryl on February 24, 2021 at 5:24 am

    This is awesome!!! Already ideas swimming about for Christmas gifts!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

    • IOD Customer Service IOD Customer Service on February 24, 2021 at 11:56 am

      Yay! We just love when IOD inspiration hits! ❤️❤️❤️

    • Rhonda C Finfrock on February 26, 2021 at 6:46 am

      Thank you, Sheryl. I’m sure the people on your gift list will love a creation from you! I plan on doing the same next Christmas.

  8. Emily Ortiz on February 24, 2021 at 5:42 am

    What an amazing creation! How talented you are! Thank you for sharing with us.

    • IOD Customer Service IOD Customer Service on February 24, 2021 at 11:55 am

      We completely agree! This was done by our amazing stockist Rhonda from the Fruitful Life Studio! ❤️

    • Rhonda C Finfrock on February 26, 2021 at 6:45 am

      Thank you, Emily. I have fun with my art and love sharing.

  9. Tammy Bemies on August 3, 2021 at 2:19 am

    Is IOD ink permanent and non fading when washed?

  10. Melissa Campbell on August 15, 2021 at 4:51 am

    I love this post! I have been collecting flannel shirts for over a year now for my booth and just started bleaching them and plan to so this with some. Also, I lived in Visalia, CA for three years just down the road from Exeter. I love Exeter. It’s such a cute town and I would go shop the downtown area all the time.

    • IOD Customer Service IOD Customer Service on August 19, 2021 at 9:19 am

      We hope you’ll stop by next time you’re in town!! The flannel shirts will look so great!!

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