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Fabric Printing with Kids, Part I

by Jean Van't Hul
August 16, 2010

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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