DIY Personalised T-Shirts At Home

Roxanne Sancto
May 09, 2024 By Roxanne Sancto
Originally Published on May 01, 2020

Decorating and creating T-shirts is as educational as it is fun.

While getting creative with sequins or fabric markers, different kinds of tie-dying techniques or printing methods is the main incentive, it's also a great lesson in repurposing old clothes and turning them into something exciting and new. Get the kids started on slow fashion at an early age and they'll end up contributing to a sustainable future in fashion!


How To Help Kids Personalise Their T-Shirts

Personalising T-shirts and opening your kids up to the endless possibilities of upcycling will make for a good project any day.

You'll see just how your children's sense of fashion is starting to shape, and by giving them time to play with different fabrics, paint and DIY craft techniques, you'll help them realise their very own ideas, perhaps even the garments of their dreams!

You don't need much to design T-shirts or use old shirts to magic into a new fashion statement - some crayons, some paint. And for the rest, pretty much anything that could be used to turn a boring old T-shirt into the talk of the schoolyard fashion: beads, buttons, sequins, fabric, patches, etc.

Launch a Paint Party, Couture Style!

For the paint party couture, DIY T-shirt brand you won't need to go all out on textile specific paint or markers, nor do you have to shell out on new shirts.

Instead, let the kids get rid of any T-shirts they no longer like or those that were secretly "ruined" by a big old stain, and use them to upcycle them into something new and fabulous.

You can use anything from fingerpaint (for toddlers), to acrylic or even spray paint (for older children) to get the T-shirt making party started.

Toddlers can work with fingerpaint to create fun designs such as turkeys, butterflies to decorate their T-shirts with. Kids above the age of five, who already feel comfortable working with paintbrushes or markers can work with their acrylics.

You'll see them start their own line based on whatever currently inspires them: exotic or fantasy animals, superheroes, their favourite computer games and Disney characters, etc.

You can also cut out an animal or other shapes from a piece of carton or masking tape, and let your kids throw, spray, brush or fingerpaint some colour around it to create interesting silhouettes. You'll see, once you all get started on your T-shirt extravaganza, the ideas will just keep on coming.

If your kids are attempting an intricate T-shirt design using acrylics or fabric markers, it's always a great idea to draw up a rough outline to guide them - too many mistakes might end in tears if your kids are taking themselves a little too serious as boding designers.

Then again, it can also be a great lesson in mistakes; teach your kids how to turn perceived imperfections - stains, small mistakes, holes, etc. - into something beautiful and unique.

It's the perfect way to make them see that there's beauty even in chaos.

kids started on slow fashion at an early age

How Can I Decorate My Own T-Shirt With Fabric Scraps & Old Clothes?

If you really want to step up your DIY T-shirt decorating game at home, raid your families' cupboards for old clothes and collect all the fabric scraps in the sewing box.

Start thinking big.

Turn old jeans into denim flowers sewn onto a fringe-lawn made out of strips of T-shirt fabric; transform the tulle fabric from an old dress your daughter has grown out of into a tutu for the ballerina she painted onto her shirt; let the kids go wild with fabric scraps to create a funky outfit for any character or lettering on their shirts.

Another way to use old clothes - anything from jeans, to dressy shirts, skirts etc. - is for print patterns or embroideries to decorate a T-shirt with.

For example, if your daughter has grown out of a dress with big flower prints, cut them out and encourage her to stick or sew them on to the shirt she is currently decorating. The Spiderman T-shirt your son doesn't want to part with?

Let him cut out his favourite superhero and create a new adventure for him on another shirt. The same goes for sequins or embroidery - just find new ways to put these things to good use on DIY shirt creations.

contributing to a sustainable future in fashion

Experiment With Different Tie-Dyeing Techniques

The tie-dye look made a comeback on the real catwalks last year, and now that we have the time to experiment with our own dying techniques at home, it is set to stay for at least another fashion season or two.

As far as DIY crafts go, tie-dying shirts - and pretty much any other plain clothes - is an all-time favourite among kids.

It's fun to do and will really get their creativity going, as they can join in on every part of the process: from choosing their colour combinations, to preparing the dye and learning differing tying techniques to create unique patterns.

Tie-dying is so easy - your children will be surprised at how quickly you can make a whole new outfit!

Don't worry if you don't have a white T-shirt laying around - you can work with any light colour, just be logical about the colours you're going to dye it with to ensure the best outcomes.

Fabric dye can be bought in most drugstores, supermarkets and, of course, online.

If you want to make a real day of it, however, you can go for the educational approach to your tie-dying process by creating your own, natural dye from things you'll find in your kitchen cupboard: turmeric (yellow/orange), hibiscus or any other red tea (pink), beetroot or red cabbage (purple), etc.

Your kids will already see the colour vibrancy of these food types as they prepare the dye, but it's the final result on the fabric that will really make their day.

DIY T-Shirt Printing Fun - Without Transfer Paper

If you happen to have transfer paper on hand, great; if you don't, not to worry - there are other ways to transfer cool prints onto a T-shirt. If you're working with printed images, all it will take is a quick trip to the kitchen for some cling film and baking sheets.

Browse the internet with your kids and let them choose the images they would like to print onto their T-shirt; Pinterest, Etsy and Instagram are always good sources for ideas.

Once printed and dried, wrap the image in cling film, place it on to the T-shirt (face-up), and cover it with a sheet of baking paper.

Then gently iron the image on -  et voila! DIY shirts that look as though they came straight off the rack of your kids' favourite clothing shop.

If your kids are eager to create originals shirts, a fun way to print designs is with crayons. To make this kind of print shirt, all you'll need is sandpaper, crayons and a baking sheet.

Kids get to draw their own pictures onto the grainy side of the sandpaper with their crayons.

Once they're happy with their design, place the image on to the T-shirt (image side down), cover it with a baking sheet and iron it on - it's as easy as that. These prints look great and usually have a bit of texture thanks to their sandpaper origins.

Fashionably Educational T-Shirt Crafts for Kids

Whichever one of these super easy and fashionably educational DIY T-shirt making approaches you end up going for, you'll quickly come to see all the benefits: it's great fun for the kids, it's an excellent way to reuse clothes and it teaches the kiddos about slow fashion and simple designing techniques.

child colouring with crayons

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Written by Roxanne Sancto

Roxanne Sancto picture

Roxanne Sancto

Roxanne is a writer, Yoga, and English teacher who is always covered in glue and paint stains. With a deep love for animals, she currently cares for four fur babies and often finds herself bringing home a new pet every time she goes for a walk. Roxanne's work as a teacher keeps her up to date with the latest kid lingo and trends, both in the UK and Spain, ensuring that her lessons are engaging and relevant to her students' interests.

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