Fabric Transfer T-Shirt Art for Kids

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Fabric Transfer Tshirt -- Great Wearable Art Project for Kids!

The kids and I made some great T-shirts last month, using fabric transfers of their mixed media artworks. The shirts combine the awesomeness of regular kids drawing transfers with the fabric colors and prints that you would get with a sewn applique. But no sewing involved!

Want to give it a try? Here’s how we made the shirts:

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  • Paper
  • Markers or other drawing tools
  • Double-sided tape
  • Assorted fabric scraps
  • Scissors
  • Fabric transfer paper (Available at craft stores, office supply stores, and online. If you have a light-colored shirt, make sure to get the kind specifically for light-colored shirts. And ditto for dark-colored shirts.)
  • Iron
  • Plain T-shirt

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1.  Cut fabric into shapes and arrange on paper as desired. Maia and her friend Stella, ages 7, were able to cut the fabric themselves using small fabric scissors. I cut out a bunch of shapes for Daphne, 3, to choose from. (Blunt, kid-safe scissors don’t work well on fabric.)

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2.  Add details and drawn elements around the fabric shapes using markers or other drawing tools.

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Daphne created a couple of people. I think she said this girl was jumping in the grass.

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And this one is a fairy princess with colorful wings.

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Stella made a truck with flowery wheels, truck noises, and a bright blue sky.

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Maia drew a quick girl.

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3.  We used double stick tape to hold the fabric pieces in place. You can do this before or after adding the drawn elements. One or two pieces of the tape should be sufficient. No need to go crazy with it as Daphne did here.

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4.  Make an ink-jet color photocopy of the artwork onto the fabric transfer paper. 

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5.  Trim around the artwork, keeping corners rounded as much as possible. Position on shirt.

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6.  Turn so the image faces the shirt (for light-colored fabric transfers) and iron on, following the directions on the fabric transfer paper packet.

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7.  Let cool, then peel away the paper backing to reveal the completed shirt.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The process is different for dark color fabric transfers. Make sure to follow the instructions provided. For the dark color transfer paper, I pulled off the paper backing from the image first, positioned it right-side up on the shirt, and covered it with a special paper provided while I ironed it in place.

Daphne Dancing in Her New Shirt

8.  Try on, admire, and show off your dance steps in your new shirt.

I LOVE how these look! The addition of the fabric collage adds a whole new level of vibrancy to T-shirt drawing transfers.

P.S. If you don’t have a fabric stash, you can buy some fat quarters (small squares of fabric) at the craft or fabric store. Or try this technique with printed papers.

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  1. amanda says

    I love this idea. They are beautifully unique! even though I am usually not a “brand” person I have to ask what brand transfer paper you use because I have quit making my own tshirts because avery brand no longer works for me–it peels and crumbles in the wash on delicate cycle.

  2. says

    These are so great Jean. I just wish we had an ink jet printer. Maybe I’ll add one to my Christmas list with some of this fabric transfer paper! :)

  3. Surabhi says

    I would absolutely love to do this but don’t have access to inkjet printer (aren’t they outdated now??). :-(

  4. Dena says

    Wow, love seeing Daphne in the limelight now! Turning their art into something they can wear is such a great idea, thanks!

  5. [email protected] says

    These are wonderful! I have a question though…if I don’t have a copier but I do have an ink jet printer, do you think places like Office Depot would color copy my kids’ artwork for me?

  6. Lucille says

    I have a question off topic…..I remember you once mentioning “liquid waterpaint”? Where can that be ordered?

  7. Jean says

    Great post! Can’t wait to try it out with my 3 year old.
    Tara, you can scan the art with an iPhone using the camera or a scanner app. Then you can print it with your inkjet.