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‘Game of Thrones’ Night’s Watch T-Shirt Printed with Inkodye

In this household, we are BIG Game of Thrones fans.  The Hubs is actually in a period of mourning right now since he has to wait until March for the next season to begin.  The Cub is obviously too young for this show (and he prefers to spend his time running around like a Tasmanian devil and trying to get into every. single. thing. he can reach….ahhh, life with a toddler).  Even though he isn’t a true fan yet, I thought it would be fun to make him his very own t-shirt showcasing his parents’ appreciation for this great show.  Plus, it gave me an excuse to test out a new product that I’ve been eyeing for a while: Inkodye!  This is dye that is activated by sunlight….how neat is that!

DIY Game of Thrones Shirt

[Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  I truly appreciate any and all support!]


My Inspiration: I saw this shirt floating around the interwebs and showed it to The Hubs.  When its saying, “Sorry Ladies….I’m in the Night’s Watch” garnered a hearty chuckle out of him, I knew it was a winner.  And since The Cub is a little lady killer already (just check out this mini stud muffin!), this saying would be perfect for him to wear.

The Night’s Watch?  What’s That?: In case you’re not a devoted follower of Game of Thrones like we are (what’s wrong with you??), here’s a brief rundown of what the Night’s Watch is: it’s basically a group of military men who are stationed at an icy place known as The Wall, which they swear a life-long oath to protect and hold….and as part of this life-long oath, they vow to be lady-free for their whole lives.

The Night’s Watch Oath:

Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come. [Source]

It’s that “take no wife….father no children” part that makes this shirt so funny for our handsome little devil to wear.  Get it now?


Printing With The Sun (& Inkodye)!

I bought a bottle of Lumi Inkodye in Black from Amazon while it was on sale.  They offer a variety of colors (I bought some blue and red too and am excited to try new projects with both of these!), but I thought the black would work well for this particular project.

How Inkodye works: The cool thing about this product is that it doesn’t become activated until it is touched by sunlight.  It can be used on natural fabrics and is permanent.  Only the dye that is touched by the sun’s rays will permanently color the fabric; anything that is not exposed to sun will wash away (at least that’s their claim).  You can also mix colors together and/or change the amount of sunlight exposure to create different shades or effects on your fabric.  Inkodye seems to allow for some pretty cool things since it’s different from typical fabric paint, and that’s why I was so eager to test it out here!

Let there be {NO} light!: A downside to this uniqueness, however, is that you need to work in a room that is not exposed to natural sunlight.  I therefore made the floor of our interior downstairs half bath my work room for this project since it does not have any windows… was cozy to say the least.


Test! Test! This is only a test!: Before diving right in, however, I thought it would be best to experiment a little with different techniques since this was my first time using Inkodye.  I grabbed a plain white Gerber onesie that The Cub no longer fit into as well as some scrap vinyl letters that were left over from my Family Growth Chart Ruler project (see, THIS is why I always save any and all scraps….The Hubs says I’m a hoarder, but you never know when you may need something!).

Thinning it with water: I did some research online on how to use the Inkodye and learned that you can dilute it quite a bit and it will still keep its bright, rich color (and get more bang for your buck since you’re extending its use).  Since I was working with a small area (just one side of a toddler’s t-shirt), I decided to just do a one-to-one ratio of 1/4 cup of water to a 1/4 cup of Inkodye.

Anyone have a gas mask handy?: The Inkodye is actually quite thick and opaque and looks a lot like chocolate milk.  It, however, does not smell like chocolate milk (and I’m sure it doesn’t taste like it either)!  Phew… has quite a pungent odor actually, especially while being confined in a tiny bathroom.  It wasn’t enough to make me light-headed or anything that serious, but the fumes caught me off-gaurd, so be forewarned.  The bottle does have a caution message saying “Use only outdoors or in a well-ventilated area,” and I thought my bathroom fan would be enough ventilation, but maybe not.  Oh well, I survived.

Diluted Inkodye


Test Shirt In Progress:

Prepping the onesie:  I first placed the scrap vinyl ‘a’ on the front of The Cub’s old onesie as well as a couple strips of painter’s tape (I wanted to see how the painter’s tape would work at blocking the sunlight compared to the vinyl).  Next, I covered a flattened cardboard box with a plastic grocery bag and slid it inside the shirt.  This was to keep any Inkodye from bleeding onto the backside of the onesie.

Applying the Inkodye:  I took a foam brush, dipped it into my diluted Inkodye, and began dabbing it onto the onsie.  I fully saturated the bottom portion around the painter’s tape and the lower part of the ‘a’, and then I wanted to see if I could get an ombre-type effect, so my dabbing became lighter and lighter as I worked my way up towards the top.

Inkodye Shirt Prep


Putting The Inkodye to Work

Exposure Times:  According to the bottle, the Inkodye becomes fully exposed in direct sunlight in 15 minutes, and in cloudy conditions, it can take a half hour.  On the day I was working with this, it was a beautiful-not-a-cloud-in-the-sky type of day.  So, I grabbed my test onesie, ran (or briskly strolled) outside, and placed my project on our sidewalk….then let the sun get to work!

It’s Alive!:  The Inkodye started changing colors literally as soon as I walked out my back door.  I could tell it was already being activated as I placed it on the ground, and I had to race to get my camera ready in time!  After ten minutes had passed, it looked pretty darn black to me, but I left it out there the full 15 minutes and then brought it back inside.

Inkodye Shirt Animation


Test Shirt Results:

Once I was back in my temporary craft room (a.k.a. our half bath), I removed the vinyl and painter’s tape.  Here are my findings:

  1. I applied too much Inkodye around the bottom of the “a”, and it bled underneath both the vinyl and the painter’s tape.
  2. The vinyl does an excellent job of acting as a stencil and blocking sunlight.
  3. The painter’s tape is not such a great stencil.  It allowed sunlight to penetrate and expose some of the Inkodye that bled underneath.
  4. No ombre effect….whomp, whomp.

Inkodye Test Shirt

More Testing With a Spray Bottle: I thought it would be neat to see what a spray bottle would do, so I flipped the onesie over, added another scrap vinyl letter, then filled a spray bottle up with the diluted Inkodye.  I started spraying it onto the onesie, expecting it to come out in a fine mist, but no matter how much I twisted the nozzle or in which direction, no fine mist came out.  It was all thick splatters.  I decided to just run with it, so I sprayed the whole onesie, placed it back outside in direct sunlight, then brought it back inside after another 15 minutes had passed.

More Results: How ugly is this?!?  Ha!  This just makes me laugh….it’s soooo not what I was going for!  I think my Inkodye might have been a little too thick (or maybe my spray bottle was malfunctioning) but this is not the fine mist effect I had envisioned.  Oh well.  It’s a definite learning experience (that’s what a test project is for after all!), and if I ever need to make a cow costume in my future, I know how to achieve the perfect look. ;)  I think I’ll give the spray method a test again in the future, but I’ll dilute the Inkodye more so it’s much thinner….then maybe I’ll be able to get that fine mist I’m after….

Inkodye Test Shirt


Washing With Inkowash

The Detergent: Since my test onesie had now been fully experimented with on both sides, it was time to give it a good washing.  I used the Lumi brand of laundry detergent called Inkowash that came in a starter kit I purchased with my blue Inkodye.  While doing my online research though, I read that most people just use their regular everyday detergent and it works just fine.  Since I had this, however, I decided to go by the book and used this to wash the onesie.

The Final Verdict: Per the directions on the bottle, I put a few capfuls in, set my machine for a hot wash with a cold rinse, then repeated the process.  The onesie came out the same way it went in….the fully activated black remained (wahoo!), as did the non-exposed dye that bled underneath the vinyl letters and painter’s tape (#sadface).

I learned:

  • Just like with regular fabric paint, less is more with Inkodye.  You don’t want any bleeding under your stencil because that will not wash out (unlike their claim).
  • Use vinyl as a stencil if at all possible.


***Remember those fumes I talked about earlier?  Yeah, well, they reappeared in full force during the washing phase.  When I walked into our laundry room to run Wash Cycle #2, I nearly went cross-eyed from the odor.   Yowzaa!


The Real Deal Now

The Shirt: Now that my experimenting was complete and I had my technique figured out, it was time to prep for The Cub’s final Night’s Watch shirt.  I bought a pack of Burt’s Bees 100% cotton t-shirts in size 2T and pulled the solid gray one out for this project.  After removing the tags and giving it a quick wash, I measured the size of the chest area to finalize the size of my design.

Burt's Been Tshirt


The Vinyl Stencil & FREE CUT FILE!:  I created my design using Silhouette Studio, and you can download it for FREE if you’d like to use and enjoy!  Just click here!


Then I decided to use some Oracal 651 vinyl for this so it would stick well to the t-shirt and create a nice sturdy stencil that would fully block out the sun.  After looking through my stash of vinyl, I rediscovered a sheet of 651 that came in last month’s free sample pack from Orafol (the maker of Oracal vinyl).  Jackpot!

Free Oracal Vinyl

On a Side Note…..Get FREE Oracal Vinyl Every Month!  Did you know you can get free Oracal vinyl (and other Orafol products like stencil material) every month??  I know, so awesome!  Just go to their website, click ‘Login’ in the upper righthand corner, and set up your account.  Then just select ‘Promotional Catalog’ from the menu on the left and add up to five items to your cart.  You’ll get a confirmation email of your order and it is shipped very quickly and usually arrives in just a couple days.  I always request my samples during the first few days of each month because they run out of samples quickly…..the early crafters get the best products!

***UPDATE in December 2014: So when I tried to request my free sample this month, I went to submit my order like normal….then they said I would need to pay a few bucks for shipping in order to receive my free samples….so apparently this free program was so popular it’s not free anymore.  Nuts!

Now back to your regularly scheduled post…..

Cutting The Vinyl Design

I loaded up my cutting mat with the {free!} sheet of vinyl and cut out my design with my Silhouette Cameo.  I then weeded it with my hook tool to remove all the excess vinyl.

Cutting Vinyl With Silhouette


Applying The Vinyl Design

Next, I applied some transfer paper over the design and then grabbed my ruler and some masking tape.  I then centered the design in the chest area of the shirt, and, using the hinge method (which you can read more about here and here), applied the design.

Game of Thrones Tshirt


Applying & Activating the Inkodye

Application: My design stencil was ready and waiting, so all that was left was applying the Inkodye and then letting it become activated.  I stuck the same plastic bag-covered cardboard inside the shirt and moved into the half bath again.  I still had some diluted Inkodye, so I used my foam brush again and LIGHTLY applied the Inkodye overtop the stencil.  I didn’t want any bleeding, so this was a slow and steady process.  Once all areas were covered, outside I went!

Activation: Since the dye activates so quickly, I could immediately see some spots that were remaining light gray instead of gradually becoming darker.  The look I was going for was having my entire design be the same solid black, so I ran inside and got my supplies, then carefully dabbed just a tiny bit more Inkodye to these areas.  My measuring cup held my diluted Inkodye, which started to change color too, but it never became fully exposed.  Even though it was still bright and sunny out, I decided to leave the shirt outside for 25 minutes just so it would get as black as black can get…..and The Cub had also just awoken from his morning nap and wanted some chicken nuggets for lunch, so it was time to switch my Crafter hat for my Chef one. :)

Game of Thrones Tshirt

Washing the shirt:  After 25 minutes had passed, I brought the shirt back inside and started removing the vinyl.  I was so thrilled to see that there was no bleeding of the Inkodye!  Horray!  Just solid black where black was intended and no other marks/errors to be found.  I then followed the same washing instructions as previously discussed and….

….the final shirt turned out perfect!

DIY Game of Thrones Night's Watch Shirt

DIY Game of Thrones Night's Watch Shirt


‘Game of Thrones’ Night’s Watch T-Shirt Printed With Inkodye

And here’s our little model showing off his new custom-made Mom-DIY duds.  (Pardon his crazy sleepy-head hairdo…no amount of hair gel or mom spit would tame that beast!)

Game of Thrones Tshirt

Game of Thrones Tshirt

Game of Thrones Tshirt

And just because I think he’s super cute and love showing him off, here’s a couple more. :)

Game of Thrones Tshirt

Game of Thrones Tshirt

Game of Thrones Shirt Printed With The Sun


So my first time using Inkodye was a success!  I love it when that happens.  Here are some takeaways:

  • Do a test run first to familiarize yourself with the Inkodye!  It’s a lot different than fabric paint.
  • The Inkodye permanently dyes the fabric itself, so there will be no cracking or peeling, which sometimes happens when using fabric paint or heat transfer vinyl.
  • The design is soft!  Unlike fabric paint or heat transfer vinyl that remains on top of the fabric, the Inkodye changes the actual fibers, so there’s nothing “hard” or noticeable on the surface.  Running your hand across the front feels completely soft and natural….nothing but shirt!
  • There are tons of different ways to experiment with the Inkodye: mixing colors, changing the amount/time of sun exposure, diluting with varying amounts of water, application technique, etc.  So many possibilities!

Now, I still enjoy using fabric paint and had great success using it with my DIY Painted Canvas Bag, but Inkodye is definitely a fun new toy to play with. :)

DIY Painted Canvas Bag


Have any of you used Inkodye before?  If so, I’d love to check out your creations!

Thanks so much for stopping by!  If you enjoyed what you saw here today, please share the love and pin it!  And I’d love for us to stay connected!

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Where The Smiles Have Been




Annie Solomon

Monday 23rd of May 2016

Love this project. I've been struggling with HTV--chickened out and used printable HTV instead of cutting my design out of vinyl--I just don't understand how to keep all those individual letters straight--but this idea sounds intriguing. I might get my courage up and try it. Thanks for the detailed tutorial.


Saturday 9th of April 2016

Thanks so much for this! I was working on a shirt made with a vinyl stencil and I wanted to use Inkodye, but I was nervous about it soaking into the fabric and bleeding underneath the vinyl. Thanks for showing me it can work!

11 Tutorials & Ideas - Inkodye Project Inspiration

Wednesday 30th of September 2015

[…] 2. Game of Thrones t-shirt, she used vinyl instead of transparencies, from Where the Smiles Have Been. […]


Thursday 2nd of April 2015

This is TOO COOL! Wish I could make it for my kiddo!


Thursday 2nd of April 2015

Thanks so much, Swapna! :)


Thursday 26th of March 2015