A magazine challenge: kid-designed t-shirts

Share & Comment

MagazineTshirts_JV_21What can we make with magazines after we’ve finished reading them?

Collages, paper chains, books, a variety of learning and literacy games and activities—so much!

But how about clothing? Our family has now added designing our own t-shirts to the list. We all worked on these over the weekend and are very happy with the shirts we’ve revamped and added back to our closets.

This project is in response to the December TinkerLab challenge—”create with magazines”. Here’s how we made our custom T-shirts (and how you can make some, too!):


  • Magazine(s)
  • Scissors
  • T-shirt(s)
  • Glue stick and copy paper (optional)
  • Printable transfer paper (we used PrintWorks brand for dark T-shirts)
  • Iron
  • Access to a color copier (home or Kinko’s, etc)


Step 1: Gather your magazines. Our stack included old issues of Your Big Backyard and National Geographic Little Kids, two nature-oriented kid mags that we’ve enjoyed.


Step 2: Cut out images that appeal. Maia cut out a large stack of animal pictures. Daphne made multiple cuts around a couple of pictures.


And Harry and I cut out some out as well.


Step 3: Match up magazine images with T-shirts. Maia had a lot of fun moving around her pictures, appropriating ours, and creating different arrangements.


Step 4: Glue the images to paper backing with a dab from a glue stick. This step isn’t strictly necessary, but we found it helpful for Maia to assemble the images that she wanted to group together and to keep them intact on the way to the copy machine.


Step 5: Copy the magazine images onto the photo transfer paper, following the directions on the package. (Note: the photo transfer paper is rather expensive at $11 for a package of 5. I buy mine when I have a 50% off coupon at AC Moore or Michaels.)


Step 6: Trim around your image on the special transfer paper. You can leave a white margin, as here, if you like, or trim flush with the image.


Step 7: Match up your images with your T-shirts once again. Maia arranged and rearranged a fair amount.


Step 8: Peel the paper backing off the transfer paper image (see upper right hand corner) and place on T-shirt in desired location.

Step 9: Iron on the image following package directions. Mine included special paper to cover the image while ironing, but found that parchment paper works well as a substitute if you, say, rip your paper by mistake.

Step 10: Try on your new T-shirt and admire! Maia made several shirts, as you can see. Daphne, Harry, and I all have new shirts as well (polar bear, tree frog, and elephant respectively).

This is a very simple project, despite the steps involved. Besides being good for self-expression, it might be fun for a child to make one as a gift for a sibling or cousin, using images of whatever they are into (unicorns, spiderman, etc)…

Now that you’ve seen our response to TinkerLab magazine challenge, go check out what the other participants have come up with!

This post contains affiliate links.

Share & Comment
Subscribe to The Artful Parent newsletter


  1. says

    Sorry, was struggling to add one of my links, and now appear to have added it 3 times!!! Please delete the extra ones so that I don’t look like quite such an idiot!

  2. says

    Agree with Maggy! This is so clever and the result is gorgeous!
    We had done something like this last year to create a temporary costume. We pasted the cuttings with fabric glue as photo transfer papers are very very expensive here and no discount coupons :(

  3. says

    Gosh! I love this idea! We will definitely be doing this in the future. These would make such wonderful gifts for family (especially if they could choose their own pictures…now you’ve got me thinking!) Your always an inspiration! Thank you!

  4. Angaleta says

    Sorry, I tried to send a link to Monday Madness and I was wrong (I linked here how we paint the wall ¬¬). Magazines? Nice idea! I promise we’ll do something and link it in the correct place! I’m a beginner!

  5. says

    I love this idea! One question though, what about copyright on the photos from the magazines? I know that some copy places might not allow you to make reprints with certain magazine photos…

  6. says

    This turned out beautifully! I would never have thought to use magazines this way. LOVE IT! This challenge was so fun and I am really enjoying all of the variety of creations that were shared.

  7. Roopa says

    That IS a great idea, super like it!! Gifts made by kids for any occasion..
    One question, where do you buy the blank T shirts for kids?

  8. says

    Well, since it’s a one time personal use and we’re not creating multiples or selling them, I’m not worried about it. You’re may be right about some copy shops being hesitant to allow copying of some material. Not sure about that.

  9. says

    What a great way to involve children in creating their own clothing (not that I’d expect anything less from you!). It’s just wonderful, and I’m pinning this for a future day!

  10. says

    Well, we just used what we had in the closet this time, but usually when I want to buy a blank shirt specifically for embellishment purposes (either freezer paper stenciling or applique), I’ll pick something up at Target. They have a lot of blank shirts.

  11. says

    Sorry about the expensive photo transfer paper. It’s interesting finding out what’s available in different countries… Your idea of a temporary costume with magazine cuttings and fabric glue sounds fun, though! I know Maia would have a blast with that!

  12. Renee Brown says

    Thank you so much for this idea! My daughter has a Doodlebops obsession thanks to old library DVDs and is now getting a Doodlebops t-shirt for Christmas!
    One question: How have they held up in the wash? Do you do anything special to wash them?

  13. says

    They wash just fine! No need to do anything special. One of my husbands favorite shirts was made with this photo transfer paper and he wears it all the time (and we wash it all the time). It’s held up perfectly.