Creative Family Living

Fabric Printing with Kids, Part I


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.

This post contains affiliate links.


  • Reply
    August 16, 2010 at 7:06 am

    What great designs! Very cool!
    School starts early there. School starts here in September.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2010 at 7:13 am

    Love them!

  • Reply
    August 16, 2010 at 9:46 am

    I thought the flower/steering wheel shirt was orange slices! hahaha! Everyone sees things differently.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2010 at 10:04 am

    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!!

  • Reply
    August 16, 2010 at 11:32 am

    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!

  • Reply
    August 16, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    You all did a lovely job. A great project. I am going to try this with my little girl too. Thank you.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Love the steering wheels!

  • Reply
    August 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    These are great Jean!!

  • Reply
    August 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    and Maia!! oops! =)

  • Reply
    August 16, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    August 16, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    August 16, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    We haven’t tried the fabric markers yet, but I’m sure others have. We like the Pentel fabric crayons/pastels though.

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    August 16, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Yeah, school starts especially early this year because we had so many snow days last year.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    Cathy @ NurtureStore
    August 16, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    I love the designs. So cool to start school wearing your own customised T.

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    August 16, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Yes, we love the Pentel fabric pastels! Maia and I have used them for several projects, including these decorated pockets:

  • Reply
    August 17, 2010 at 7:19 am

    Great shirts! Good luck at school Maia!!!

  • Reply
    August 17, 2010 at 9:38 am

    I loved Maia’s T shirt! The print looks like so many other things – like – Lemon/orange cross section!
    We had done fabric painting on her old Tee Shirt some time back. You can see here:

  • Reply
    jen at
    August 17, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    sheer brilliance with the thread spool flower! you rock!

  • Reply
    heldin im chaos
    August 18, 2010 at 6:54 am

    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!

  • Reply
    August 21, 2010 at 12:16 am

    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.

  • Reply
    August 23, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    These are so cute and look really fun to make. I’ll have to remember this project!

  • Reply
    September 9, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Where do you get your shirts to use?

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    September 9, 2010 at 11:45 am

    These shirts are mostly from Target, but you can also get plain shirts lots of places, including Dharma Trading Co:

  • Reply
    November 17, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    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!

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