As we’ve written in the past, there are many ways to define a mother. Merriam Webster opts for “a female parent” but we at Alabama Chanin feel the term mother is often more verb than noun. A mother can also be a member of your “family of choice” –or any woman that has offered you guidance and support. Mother can be many things, many people:

Woman, Provider, Friend, Sister, Wife, Daughter, Mom. (To mention a very few.)

We sold a version of the shirt pictured above many years ago, and—in honor of Mother’s Day and The School of Making—have now revamped the design.

The Mother stencil was designed by current Auburn University industrial design student, Sam Nuckels at our 2012 Open House, when he was 15-years-old and still in high school. Sam and his mother, my dear friend Barbara Frasier, visited our open house and he took advantage of the on-hand workshop materials to create this design for his mother. The spontaneity and sweetness behind the gesture has stuck with me for years—and seems a celebration of all mothers.

Celebrate the strong, supportive ladies in your own lives by creating this DIY Mother T-shirt. Make one for yourself or make a few and share them with the mothers in your life, whoever they may be.

Basic stenciling instructions are below, but feel free to get creative and embellish the design with beads, embroidery, and/or appliqué. After all, each mom is divinely unique.



Unisex T-Shirt Top or existing cotton T-Shirt
Spray adhesive
Stencil transfer materials (Sharpie markers, textile paint, spray enamel)
Mother stencil

Place your T-Shirt on a flat surface, patting out any wrinkles with your fingers. Align the stencil along the left front side of the shirt, and use a light coating of spray adhesive to hold the stencil in place.

Next, use the method of your choice to transfer the stencil pattern. We’ve found that Sharpie markers are an easy method for a small project like this one. They also come in a variety of colors, which gives you lots of options. And the marks last through many launderings, as well. Textile paint comes in both paint-on and spray varieties. At the studio, we use an airbrush to apply our textile paint, which helps ensure even, equal coverage. Cans of enamel spray paint are easy to use, but not permanent, so keep that in mind when opting for this method.

(Refer to our Studio Books for more information, tips, and tricks on stenciling tools and techniques.)


A. Chanin Long Sleeve Raglan in Natural
Textile Paint – Black

P.P.S. Here is a roundup of some of our favorite past Journal posts commemorating motherhood. (Good reads for a post-brunch Sunday afternoon):

Dear Mother
Never a Pal Like Mom
Mother + Son Thanksgiving Dressing
Real Women As Seen By Men
Mom and the Casserole
The Craft of Midwifery

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