Saturday, March 5, 2016

How I Conjured Up a Brakebills College Jacket

Yes, you guys already know...I'm really enjoying the new TV Series The Magicians on SyFy. Truth is, I really started getting into it because they ordered prints from me to use on the set, (read more here)  (...and here) however now I'm totally sucked into the story and awaiting every new episode! I also downloaded the first book in the series to my tablet which I'm thoroughly enjoying reading in between art and writing. So... I've been wanting to try a cool technique from Pinterest for decorating shirts and I knew I wanted to make, a Brakebills College jacket! I know, in the book it's a graduate school, but they didn't want to end up with a problem with kids aging too quickly to keep up with filming the series, so they changed it to a University. If I couldn't get one from Brakebills College bookstore in Upstate NY (don't tell me it's not real...) I decided to make one myself!

I conjured up a one of a kind Brakebills jacket, and I didn't have to use a series of complex hand gestures or speak incantations in obscure languages! All it took was a $5. sweatshirt jacket on clearance, (I used a Hanes ComfortBlend 50% Cotton 50% Poly) a pack of vinyl poster letters, freezer paper, craft knife, a little spray bottle, and some bleach...and my crafty witchy self!

I loosely based my design of the Brakebills "Key and Bee" shield on a screenshot from the show, I needed to simplify it in order to make a template. I cut the shield outline out separately, then cut out a template for the Key and Bee. Rather than plain paper, I used freezer paper. I drew it out on the papery side-the plastic like coated side was the back.

I didn't want to cut out all those letters too, so I found these easy vinyl letters. They have sticky backs for use on poster board signs, they were perfect!

First I positioned the shield outline, then I ironed it onto the shirt. Freezer paper is perfect, you can iron it on so it leaves a nice clean edge and it won't shift or lift while you're working. When your done, it peels off easily with no problem. After I ironed the shield I positioned the letters, they stuck great with no ironing needed, peeling off easily later.

Next I filled a small spray bottle with straight bleach, (lavender scented, 'cause I'm fancy like that) and spritzed right around the edges of the shield and the letters and watched as the areas I lightly sprayed slowly began to lighten up! Seemed pretty magical! Then I took the top off of the bottle and used the straw part to flick bigger drips and drops of bleach all around, giving it a cool edgy magical look. I was, having so much fun, I forgot to take a pic in between! While I forgot to grab my phone and take a shot, when I was pleased with the way the bleach around the shield was developing, I lifted up the shield template and positioned the key and bee carefully over the black place where the shield had been making sure it was pretty well centered within the black shield outlined with the bleach spray...

I ironed on the key and bee and then sprayed it with my little bleach bottle. I let it sit for a short time, then sprayed more. I probably repeated 3-4 times, I wanted the key and bee a little lighter than the faded outline.

Damn!!! It turned out cooler than I even imagined! I went ahead and added the same design to the back too.  Then I decided to also add the Brakebills letters down one arm like I've seen on college jackets. Before you ask, nope, this will not be for sale... copyrights, intellectual property, and all that,I made this just for my personal use. That's why I'm not sharing this template either, not to say you can't create your own for yourself! In the future I may offer a totally different design of my own and offer a downloadable template and complete instructions. This was a really fun project and I totally want to make more shirts, jackets and stuff!

This process was kind of addictive...much like magic!

...the jacket is addictive too, it's my new fave!

Then...after all that work....I discovered The Magicians Cafe Press store! I could have bought a jacket!! The author of the books Lev Grossman had fans do some really cool designs for shirts, jackets, and other stuff...I think I might need to get a shirt to wear with my new jacket...maybe a sticker for the car...tote sure to check it out here:

I also found this tutorial before I decided to try this technique myself and it was my inspiration for this project. Lots of great practical advice on how to do bleach t-shirt design!

Blessed Be!



  1. Ever Crafty Wise are you Mickie!!!!! This is soooooo Kooool!!!!

  2. LOVE! I started watching the show because of you and now I'm hooked, too!


I love to read your feedback, please leave a note on my old wooden art table!