DIY- The Runaways t-shirt

Last night I decided to take a leaf out of Joan Jett’s book and re-create her infamous Sex Pistols t-shirt. However, in homage to the great lady herself I decided against the Sex Pistols and created a Runaways one instead.

Joan’s original t-shirt

I knew it was going to be a fun project, but I had feared that it would probably be unwearable. I had visions of the spray paint sneaking in underneath the stencil leaving me with a white t-shirt with a huge black mess on it. To my delight, when I removed the stencil and saw the amazing result, I was ecstatic. They looked absolutely bitchin’.

I wanted to make sure I did it right, so I re-watched the scene in the 2010 movie The Runaways, where it shows Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett making her t-shirt in what I presume is the same way that Joan made her original t-shirt. I also brought up a picture of Joan in her t-shirt on Google so I could make sure everything was ordered right.


This video shows Kristen making it…sort of anyway, but it was the best I could find.

Kristen Stewart’s version for The Runaways

I started off running around town looking for a plain white t-shirt and a sheet of cardboard. I found t-shirts in H&M at £3.99 a pop. The cardboard I found in a craft shop and bought a A1 sheet of White cardboard each for a mere £1.89. The most expensive thing would have been a can of black spray paint that would have been about £5, but luckily my brother had some in the garage from his model making days. So overall I only had to part with about £6. A far cry from the £30 you could easily expect to pay for any kind of 70s band top from Topshop.

I began the process by cutting out two rectangle strips of cardboard at the same width of the shirt to give the design that great square effect that is on Joan’s top. Then with a pencil I wrote the words “The” on the slightly smaller strip and “Runaways” on the larger piece.

When I was happy with the lettering, I cut them out with a pair of reasonably sharp kitchen scissors and placed them, so they were overlapping on the left-hand side, on top of the t-shirt.

Next step was to tear up the morning’s Metro and cover the floor with it to prevent any overspray ruining the carpet. I also used to remaining cardboard to slide inside of the t-shirt to prevent the paint seeping through onto the back. It didn’t…but better to be safe than sorry. All the time I was swigging wine and listening to The Runaways Live In Japan album, to get into the spirit of things.

I placed my t-shirt on top of the newspaper, shook the can of paint and then with a brilliant cloud of black mist, I began spraying the stencil, making sure I was slightly going over the edges of the stencil to get that box effect.

After I was content that I had used enough paint, I waited a few tense moments to let it dry enough so it didn’t smudge and then removed the cardboard. To my utter delight it was a far cry from the black mess I had expected, it looked amazing.

By this point, I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t have any more t-shirts to do, so I got to thinking about what I could put on the back. Originally I had settled on writing “Jett”, but then, as the opening cords of Cherry Bomb erupted from the speakers, I knew there was only one thing that would be appropriate.

So, after bringing up some cover art and other pictures, I used the remaining cardboard to draw out the bomb. I stuck with the original image and drew a cherry with a sparkling wick coming out with it.

After the front had dried, I turned it over and repeated the process. Upon revealing my bomb I knew I had done the right thing, now all I could do was wait impatiently for it to dry before I could put it on.

After 10 minutes and a glass of wine it was ready. I put them on and pulled at the neck, sleeves and trim to make them look less starchy and I put a couple of safety pins on the sleeves to bring them up a bit.

Then came the photo-shoot, the results of which you can see below. I cannot believe how well it came out and I want more!

Note to self and anyone attempting this: Open all the windows before spraying and when you need to wash it, turn the top inside out and wash in cold water.

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20 thoughts on “DIY- The Runaways t-shirt

  1. Thank you so much for this I was thinking about trying that once i seen the movie I wonder did you use card board to spray paint the words on cause that’s what it look like Kristen had, I would definitely love one that say sex pistol but my school would definitely send me to the principals office lol

    1. Yep, it was a thin, white cardboard bought from a stationary and craft shop. For another one I did, I used thin, brown cardboard from a box and it would well too- a little messier though, but it works with this effect. It’s definitely easier to make the template on the thin card though.
      Haha. Sod school, make one and where it anyway – or on the weekends/after school at least.

  2. Have you tried washing them yet? Did the paint survive? I know they sell little cans of “Fabric Spray Paint”, but this seems like it would a good use of leftover spray paint and foam core board after a prop build.

    1. Hi. Yes I’ve washed my initial Runaways t-shirt five or six times (inside out in cold water- hand wash). I just used regular spray paint and it’s not faded at all. It’s a lot cheaper than the fabric stuff as well, so even if it does fade after 20 or so washes, it’d be cheaper to just make another- I’ve used one can for 6 t-shirts now and it’s still nowhere near empty.

    1. 😀 That is awesome! I absolutely love the back. I want to do some more and introduce some colour as well. Looks really wicked! I’m thinking about doing on with all the girls surnames on the front, all in different colours. Once I get all the paint I will do it and post it up here in a reply.

      1. Glad you liked it and I’m hype to see your other version of the shirt! (may try that as well) ^^

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