Design Your Own Summer T-shirts

Camp Classic Play!

by , posted on June 25th, 2012 in Arts & Crafts, Kids DIY

T-shirts and shorts, it’s the quintessential kid uniform of summer. Now kids can design their own original tees using freezer stencils to wear all summer long. Here’s how.

You’ll need:
blank tees
fabric paint
freezer paper
craft knife
foam or fabric paintbrushes

Step 1

Have kids draw a picture on a piece of freezer paper (matte side) of what they want on their tee. Simple, bold drawings work best. If kids are having difficulty coming up with something, you can use a prompt like I did with my guys. I asked them to draw something that makes them happy.

Step 2

After the drawings are done, take a craft knife and cut out the picture. Keep the small pieces in case you need them for the stencil. Ignore my blue painted fingernail there. I had a run in with one of the jars of paint.

Step 3

Take the stencil and iron it onto the shirt, glossy side down. The coating on the glossy side will adhere to the shirt once ironed. Tip: Don’t move the iron back and forth vigorously. Simply press and hold for a second or two. This is ESPECIALLY important if you’re working with small pieces. If you go all helter skelter with the iron those little pieces will move all over the place. Trust me, I learned the hard way.


Step 4

Start painting. I tell my kids to use the “dab method” so there’s less of a chance of paint getting under the freezer paper. If you’re working on a colored tee, you’ll need a couple coats. If you’re impatient like the kids (who am I kidding? I’m the impatient one), you can use a hair dryer to speed along the drying process.


Step 5

Here comes the fun part. Once the paint dries, carefully peel off the freezer stencil paper. Be extra careful if you applied multiple layers of paint. You can use the tip of the craft knife to get under any itty bitty pieces. And now…


In about an hour, the kids have a one of kind, meaningful-to-them summer t-shirt!

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7 Responses to “Design Your Own Summer T-shirts”

  1. erin//suchsmallsteps Says:

    June 25th, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    That is adorable (and simple enough I can manage it!)

    Jennifer Cooper Reply:

    You totally can! The kids do most of the work anyway. *wink*

    ps When people call me crafty, I tell them I’m no I’m ‘crafty-lite’. When it comes to projects, I’m all about the simple, instant (or near instant) gratification.

  2. Carla Says:

    June 25th, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    What a great idea, I love how they turned out!

  3. Jillian in Italy Says:

    June 26th, 2012 at 2:38 am

    I love this so much. And these t-shirts your kids designed are amazing. They should set up a t-shirt business with these logos…

  4. Jennifer Says:

    June 26th, 2012 at 8:46 am

    These are great, even for the pre-school set! I can’t wait to try it with my daughter :) We did something similiar last year for Father’s Day–I attached some blank t-shirts to her easel and using fabric paints, she painted her very own works of art. The grandfathers love their shirts and she loved being a mini-Monet!

  5. Sandra Says:

    June 26th, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Freezer paper is such an easy way to do stencils. It’s a g-dsend for crafting! And they are lovely designs – I’m with Jillian, set up that t-shirt business. You know, alongside the lemonade stand.

    Jennifer Cooper Reply:

    Ha! I’ll let them know. I’m sure their business minds will churn with possibilities…

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