As we approach the long summer break, many parents will be looking for ways to keep their children occupied without breaking the bank. There are many fun and educational activities available for parents and children including modelling, nature trails and art projects. Of the latter, a particular favourite among children is the making of something that they can wear or display in their bedroom as testimony to their creativity, such as a printed T.Shirt. Easy, affordable (and less messy than you may think) we’ve put together our simple to follow guide to a fun, fabric printing project. For this project, we’re going to print a pattern onto a plain child’s T.Shirt.
What you’ll need
- A plain T.Shirt in white or a light colour
- Fabric paint
- Plastic bottle caps
- Lego bricks
- A drawing pad and pencil
- Greaseproof paper
You can find fabric paint in most stationery and toy stores (acrylic with fabric paint tends to be less expensive and is available in a wide range of colours).
Sit down with your child to discuss what kind of pattern he or she would like on the T.Shirt (unless your child is a budding Picasso, it’s best to steer clear of complicated ideas). Encourage your child to draw their pattern idea onto a drawing pad to begin with.
Once your child is happy with the design, it’s time to get started. Begin by ironing the T.Shirt so that it’s completely flat and then place a piece of greaseproof paper inside the shirt to prevent the fabric paint seeping through to the back.
Pour your fabric paint into a bowl (use different bowls for different colours) and mix well to get rid of any lumps.
Using the drawing on the pad as a guide, choose your printing tool – such as a bottle cap or Lego brick. Hold the tool in the fabric paint for a moment until the desired printing area is covered.
Use your paint and printing tools to recreate the pattern on the drawing pad onto the T.Shirt.
Leave the T.Shirt to dry (an hour or two should do it) and then iron on the reverse to seal the pattern.
Children love to show off their own handiwork – try experimenting with different sized tools in different shapes to create flowers, faces and even animals. Get more tips and inspiration on fabric painting at https://ctnbee.com/en
Once your child has got the hang of printing their design onto fabric, it’s time to get creative by using different tools.
Try buying a couple of sheets of styrofoam online or from a local store (or even use the assorted pieces that are used to protect items in parcels). The beauty of using styrofoam is that it gives your child the ability to put their imagination to good use. Styrofoam can be cut into different shapes and sizes (perfect if your child is after a star shape or a half moon). Styrofoam can also be carved to create interesting patterns using a craft knife (always, of course, monitor young children whilst using knives). Create your shape or design and then, as before, dip this into the fabric paint before transferring to the garment.
No tools? No problem
Hand and fingerprint painting is always popular with young children who are endlessly fascinated by their own bodies. Before beginning with hand and fingerprint painting, make sure that you and your child are wearing an apron or old clothing – this could get messy! As before, ask your child to draw his or her design first and then mix up your fabric paint, using different bowls for different colours. Now, your child simply needs to immerse either their fingers or whole hand into the paint and then transfer to the garment. Where possible, try to get your child to hold their finger / hand still on the fabric for a moment or two to make sure that the print has been transferred.
Although your child may have already completed a similar project at school, this one is always worth repeating. The great thing about this project is that it combines a nature education with a fabric printing project. Take your child for a walk to a park, beach or local nature reserve and play a game whereby you encourage your child to identify as many different items as possible. Whilst playing the game, collect a number of items such as leaves, shells and flowers (always make sure that you have permission to do so) to take home ready for your printing project.
As before, prepare your fabric paints and then use the items that you have collected as printing tools. Leaves and shells in particular make great printing tools. As before, leave the T.Shirt to dry before ironing on the reverse. As an extra project, your child can also arrange the collected items in a frame or glue them to a piece of card as a collage.
Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that there are printing tools everywhere you go – try using rubber bands, pebbles, coins and even kitchen items such as forks, spoons and other cooking implements to get your child’s creative juices flowing.
Now that you’ve perfected printed T.Shirts, you can also now experiment with other items of clothing (although it’s probably best to keep expensive items paint-free).
** This is a collaborative post **