Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tutorial: Graphic shirt for kids

Now that the weather is finally starting to warm up I've been hitting the stores and stocking up on shirts for Noah. The shirts I tend to pick out for him are ones with silly graphics, like the Paul Frank shirt below with a jacket and necktie graphic.

Baby Gap makes a lot of these humorous outfits like this tool belt onesie I saw last season:

I also saw this at the baby section, a lifeguard whistle tee which quite honestly I'd buy for myself if it came in my size.

The girls section always has the most adorable clothes, check out another graphic tee I love, it's inspired by Chanel handbags.

Anyway, I'm getting carried away here. You've probably gotten a gist of the type of graphic shirts I like to buy for Noah. For a while I had been wanting to make a similar humour shirt for him and I finally tackled it a few days ago. First I cheated and purchased a ready made shirt. This one is from Zara Kids.

Then I picked out my graphic. Cool and simple was my motto for this first attempt so I went with these right on trend aviator sunglasses. Do you like? I then printed out the image on plain paper to make sure it was the right scale, I wanted it to look proportional to the shirt and Noah's frame. Voila! Looks cool aready!

Once I was happy with the scale, I printed out the same image on a sheet of transparency (hunted for stencil sheets to no avail), and then I cut out the shape with an x-acto knife and proceeded to paint using fabric paint.

My big 'oops' moment was when I accidentally painted right over the bridge of the sunglasses so it completely disappeared. With a single stroke of my brush the sunglasses went from cool aviators to also cool futuristic sunnies. I can easily envision Kanye West sporting this pair at the Grammy's hehe.

Even though it looked cool even without the bridge, I still really wanted the aviators. So I had to go buy white fabric paint and paint stripes over the black area to get the bridge back. It was tricky but I think in the end I hid my mistake pretty well, what do you think? Here is how it looked after I was done painting, bridge in place this time.

And of coures, this post wouldn't be complete without my Noah modeling the final outcome. He wore the shirt today and I overheard a mom comment to her daughter that she thought the sunglasses were really hanging on his shirt. Noah's grandpa thought the same thing. It made me smile to see it was getting noticed.

~ Side note, we just bought a junior stroller for Noah and am thinking of maybe sewing a new fabric seat or painting the bars. This means possible stroller tutorial to follow in near future. ~

In the meantime, below is the tutorial for this graphic tee. I think it would make a really nice gift, am thinking Father's Day perhaps? Maybe do one for your son/daughter and one for Daddy? Or make one for your BFF with rhinestones??? So much room to play with this!

Things You'll Need:

Fabric paint
Transparency, stencil sheet, OR freezer paper (never tried this but heard it works pretty well too)
Graphic image, printed on transparency
X-acto knife

Simple Steps to Follow:

1) Print your image onto a sheet of transparency. If applicable, make sure your image is proportional to the shirt by doing a trial print out on plain paper.

2) Cut out the shape with an x-acto knife.

3) Place the cut transparency where you want the graphic image to appear on the shirt. Tape it in place.

4) Before painting make sure you put something beneath the fabric so the paint doesn't seep through. I just used a plastic lid from the kitchen. Once everything is in place start painting, stroke the brush from the outside edge of the image towards the inside to minimize the bleeding of the paint in the edges.

5) Let image dry and follow instructions on fabric paint, in my case it was to iron the dried paint after 24 hrs. And last but not least, wear with pride!

Oh, I should probably add that if I were to do this again I would paint just one really good, thorough layer and that's it, let it dry. I ended up doing a light coat in the first round, and then a second coat, and god knows how many coats of paint later and the black area started to look sloppy. And if you've done this before I'd love to hear some tips for future reference!


  1. Awesome job! Really liked that you choose a striped shirt instead of plain white tee. Great job on recovering the bridge btw, much better than the Kanye shades :P

  2. The shirt turned out so cute! I do link parties every week, come visit us sometime!

  3. Thanks for the kind words ladies!

    Will be visiting your website Sachiko, thanks for stopping by!

  4. I absolutely love it- what a great idea. The cutie pie model doesn't hurt ;)


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