Making Kids T-shirts

Whether you want to have a way to identify the kids in a crowd, commemorate a family event, or just get the creative juices flowing on a snowy afternoon, making family T-shirts is always a hit. From the design to the creation, making family tee shirts allows the whole family to become involved in a worthwhile activity and cooperate for a creative cause. Don’t let your next family outing be boring and uncoordinated, instead start designing your family tee shirts today!

Create a Design
Staring at a blank canvas can intimidate even the most seasoned artist. If you need a little inspiration for your design, browse:

  • The shops – see what is on the racks and what others are wearing.
  • The library – check out a few books on design and pinpoint what you like.
  • The internet – websites for family reunions, stationary, even tattoos often have designs that might catch your eye.

If you are expecting the whole family to wear matching or coordinated tee shirts, then it is only fair to let each family member have their say about the design. This discussion might quickly descend into chaos, so keep everyone on track by:

  • Allowing only one veto per person for an idea that they really can’t stand.
  • Suggesting a theme for the design, for instance “fun in the sun” for a sun holiday.
  • Proposing that a familiar family saying be worked into the design.
  • Allowing family photos to be incorporated to the design.
  • Barring any unwanted nicknames from becoming involved.
  • Striking out any idea that involves teasing or belittling.
  • Offering everyone the chance to draw their own design before the final vote.

Stock Up on Tee Shirt Essentials
The next time you are out at the shops, pop into an arts and crafts store as well as a fabric store to pick up some extras for your family tee shirts. Don’t forget to purchase:

  • Plain white or colored tee shirts in each family member’s size.
  • Fabric paints or acrylic paints and textile medium.
  • Cardboard (small enough to fit inside T-shirt).
  • Permanent markers.
  • Stencils.
  • Iron-on transfers or patches.
  • Paintbrushes.
  • Fabric paint tubes (such as Tulip paint)

Make a Day of It
The next snowy weekend you stumble across; grab the chance to get the family together to make T-shirts. Decide beforehand if each family member will be allowed to work on their own shirt, or if one designated designer will do all of the hard work. If the latter is the case, then give credit where credit is due and hold a celebratory party when the work is done.

How to make it

  1. If the T-shirt is brand new, wash and dry to remove sizing, a material used in new clothing to make it crisp. Do not use fabric softener.
  2. Lay T-shirt on flat surface.
  3. Insert cardboard inside T-shirt to keep paint from seeping through to the other side. Use more than one piece if necessary.
  4. Choose a stamp shape and using the paintbrush, paint the stamp with selected color. You can find stamps at most discount department stores or craft supply stores.
  5. Place the painted side of the stamp onto the shirt and gently press down. Try not to press too hard or rock the stamp – this may blur your creation.
  6. Carefully lift the stamp off of the shirt and repeat if necessary.
  7. Continue stamping shirt using whatever colors and shapes you like.
  8. Decorating ideas
    To write words on your shirt, you can use letter stamps or write the words with tube fabric paint.
  • You can also use tube fabric paint to outline your shapes and give a 3-D effect.
  • Use a paintbrush and fabric paint to add any touches you would like.
  • Allow shirt to dry completely, lying flat. Follow paint manufacturer’s suggestions for dry times.


  • If you already have a supply of acrylic paints at home, it’s not necessary to spend a ton of money on fabric paints. Simply purchase a bottle of textile medium, which keeps acrylic paint from cracking and basically transforms it into fabric paint. Textile medium is available wherever acrylic paints are sold.
  • If you decide to use tube paints to accent your shirts, you may wish to heat set your stamp designs first. Heat setting helps seal in the paint. To heat set, once item has dried for an hour or two, turn shirt inside out. Place a cloth over the item and iron on a medium setting. Hold iron in place for approximately 20 seconds to heat set.
  • When you wash your T-shirt, turn it inside out and wash in warm water. Your designs will last longer if you can avoid the dryer or dry on low or no heat.

While the kids (especially the teenagers) may take some convincing, making family tee shirts is an excellent way to get the whole family working together to commemorate a special event. Remember to be lavish with the praise and limit the criticism and you will be well on your way to a new wardrobe in no time!


  1. Nettleingham says

    Really impressed! Everything is very, very clear.:

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