It’s summer time here and I love having more time to craft with my kiddos. Plus, as they age, they can do more every year. This was a craft I did with my son last year and am just now sharing it with you. (So, yea, his hair is a lot longer and he looks so young!) Perhaps we need to make a new shirt this year and let his sister join in the fun too. But, enough about that, let’s get going to a fun tutorial you can do with your kids – freezer paper graphics!
- Freezer paper. This can be found at most grocery and retail stores. It’s cheap and you can use it for stencils, tracing patterns, a white background for photographing your awesome creations, or wrapping a steak. I bought a roll 4 years ago and just recently ran out!
- T-shirt (either store bought or home sewn!).
- Fabric paint (I used chalkboard and Tulip soft fabric paint). You can find fabric paint at Jo-Ann, Michaels, Hobby Lobby and other retail stores.
- Exacto knife.
- Pencil or other writing utensil.
- Paintbrush. My son used a foam brush, but you can also use a regular paintbrush.
- Stencil. When searching for an image, I Google searched for “silhouette”. Silhouettes will give you a black image that you can then trace to make your stencil. Likewise, you can use outlines of shapes like I did. This particular one is called “Explosion 1” from Microsoft Word.
Step 1: Gather your supplies.
Step 2: Trace your stencil. Tear off a piece of freezer paper larger than your stencil. Placing the stencil underneath your freezer paper, trace the lines you want to cut. Keep in mind that the child will be painting. Small stencils can be difficult to capture accurately, even for adults. I recommend keeping your stencil large and with as few small pieces as possible. If the child is old enough and your stencil is simple enough, this would be a great step for your child. Or, have the child design his own stencil. Just keep in mind that small lines or shapes may be hard to capture when painting.
Step 3: Cut out your stencil. Using the exacto knife, carefully cut the outline and any smaller pieces of your stencil. If you are cutting a stencil with holes, such as an “A” or “O” cut the small pieces inside first and then cut the outline of the shape or letter. Unless the child is old enough, this is definitely an adult job!
Step 4: Position and iron on your stencil. Since it can be difficult to see what the stencil will look like on your shirt, I like to position the cut piece on the shirt first like this:
Then I place the stencil around that shape, remove the shape and iron just the outlining stencil.
Step 5: Prepare to paint. Always place either freezer paper or cardboard inside your shirt so the paint doesn’t bleed through to the back of the shirt. Kids LOVE to glob on paint and it WILL bleed through. I taped on another piece of freezer paper to cover the rest of the shirt and folded the top part of the shirt down. I also covered the table with newspaper or some form of protection.
Step 6: Paint! Give your child the paint and let her have fun! This was my son’s third shirt to paint. For the first two, I let him have free reign and they weren’t perfect, but he made them and cherishes his artwork. This time I wanted to teach him a bit more technique, so I recommended that he paint from the outside of the stencil inward. Depending on your child’s age and ability, she will be able to do more or less than my son (age 4.5).
Follow the instructions for your specific paint with regards to drying and washing instructions. Once dry, let your child try on his shirt and show off his creation to friends and family!
If you’re experimenting with colored fabric paint, try these fun techniques:
- Bubble wrap. Use a piece of bubble wrap like a stamp.
- Stamps. These might be a bit frustrating, as they are hard to perfect. I tried these when my son was 3, and he was frustrated that the stamp didn’t come out perfectly. It might also depend on the quality and intricacy of the stamp.
- Q-tips. Your son can dot with these or use them to drag.
- Yarn. Dip one end into the paint and drag along the shirt.
- Glow-in-the-dark paint. Need I say more?! You will need several layers of this for it to work though.
Have you let your child create his/her own shirt? I’d love to see it! Share a link in the comments below and I’ll be sure to check it out.