Fabric Printing with Kids, Part I

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Otherwise titled, “decorate your own t-shirts for kindergarten”.


Maia and I have been doing lots of easy and fun fabric printing over the past week.

The fabric paint was left out after I had some friends over for a night of freezer paper stenciling—something I used to do a lot of. But freezer paper stenciling isn’t the easiest thing for an almost five year old to do (I’m not ready to hand her an x-acto knife!), so I tried to think of other ways to print on fabric with her. There’s always leaf printing, or potato stamping, but this time I wanted something especially easy and quick.

So I grabbed my stash of juice bottle caps and thread spools out of the collage box, a vitamin container from the recycle bin, and some plastic circle pieces left over from an old stacking puzzle. They were all easy to print with and made great geometric designs.

Fabric Printing with Kids


  • Plain T-shirt or fabric
  • Fabric paint (We used Jacquard Textile Paint)
  • Found objects to use for printing (juice bottle caps, thread spools, legos, etc)


First, I ironed on a piece of freezer paper, shiny side up, to the inside of the t-shirts we printed. This was to stabilize the fabric as well as to prevent the fabric paint from going through to the back of the shirt.


Then we painted our print tool of choice with fabric paint


and pressed the painted side of the bottle cap (or whatever) to our t-shirts to make a print. Easy!


With this shirt, I used the empty vitamin bottle top to print a solid white circle, then used a thread spool and iridescent pink paint to create the design on top. Maia had asked for flowers and I thought this would create a perfect flower pattern. What do you think? Don’t those look like nice white flowers? But when Maia saw it, she said, “Oh, Mama! Steering wheels! Cool!” So there you go. One of her new kindergarten shirts has steering wheels all over the front.


And here’s the finished t-shirt Maia made. A face. She wants to wear it on the first day of school (tomorrow!) to show her teacher.


And a shirt I made for Daphne.

We also tried another very easy, kid-friendly t-shirt and fabric paint combo that turned out great. So stay tuned for fabric printing part II, coming soon…

P.S. If you work with fabric paints, remember to follow the instructions for heat setting the paint. With the Jacquard paints I use, you let the paint dry, then iron from the back of the fabric for 30 seconds.

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  1. says

    i absolutely loved the flower shirt and still think it is pretty swell as a steering wheel shirt. :) can’t believe tomorrow is the first day of school!!

  2. says

    we just did a few fabric painting projects too! I also picked up some fabric markers and let the kids draw all over some shirts. Ironing freezer paper on the back helped keep it stable. They loved making their own clothes!

  3. Lauren says

    Awesome! I must try this with my son! Lately he’s totally uninterested in drawing/painting on paper but I think he will like this.

  4. Lauren says

    Anyone know how fabric markers stand up to washing? I’ve used the jacquard paints and they’ve done well, but markers dound fun too. Just wondering.

  5. Jenny says

    I also thought they looked like fruit slices! I’m going to have to try that with my kids and maybe even make some for gifts!

  6. Nancy says

    The shirts look great! What fun for the first day of school. Our school starts in three weeks so we still have time for more lazy days.
    Have you tried Pental’s fabric pastels? Lot’s of vibrant colour.

  7. Agnes says

    Love the steering wheel t-shirt. I wouldn’t have thought to stamp with a spool–you’re awesome! We painted t-shirts for my 5 yo’s birthday party last June–it was a hit with the kids and served as a party favor too. Yay for Maia’s first day of kindergarten tomorrow!

  8. says

    So cute! I was totally loving the flowers and wondering how you printed them up…and then I cracked up at Maia’s vision of them! Wishing her a fantastic first day of school tomorrow!

  9. char says

    I’m catching up with all the wonderful posts here! I LOVE this project! Thank you for sharing it! I love the steering wheels, too! (They looked citrus-like to me at first, and I see the white flowers, also… that’s the beauty of this simple design!)
    Anyway, I wondered what your (adult) projects looked like with the textile paint and freezer paper, etc. I just got so curious when you mentioned this… I always love to see your art work, too.

  10. says

    is the freezer paper removable from the shirt when you’re done, or does it become fused?
    These ideas are great, and I think my school-aged boys would enjoy these as well!
    Kudos to you for the wonderful ideas! And thanks for sharing!