From Drawing to T-Shirt {The Artful Parent}

Transfer A Kids Drawing to A T-Shirt -- Makes a Great Gift!

By Jean Van’t Hul

Do you wonder what to do with all of the art that your kids produce? If your children are anything like mine, they draw and paint a lot. I’m often trying to think of ways to use or display their many masterpieces.

The Artful Parent Book by Jean Van't HulSome go on the wall, some get sent to Grandma, some are stored (and some, frankly, end up in the recycle bin).

While I have a whole chapter on displaying, reusing, and storing art in my new book, The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art and Creativity, I’m still always seeking out or thinking up new ideas. This spring, for my husband’s birthday, my daughters and I created t-shirts for him, using transfers of some of their recent drawings.

These T-shirts make great gifts and my kids were literally beaming with pride when they presented theirs.

Here’s how to make them…


Transfer a Child’s Drawing to a T-Shirt


  • Children’s drawings
  • T-shirt(s)
  • Fabric transfer paper (This is widely available at craft stores, office supply stores, and online. If you have a white or yellow t-shirt, make sure to get the kind that says for light-colored shirts. And ditto for dark-colored shirts. You’ll need the packet that specifies dark colored shirts if you’re working with blue or black…)
  • Ink-jet printer/copier
  • Scissors
  • Iron

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1. Copy your children’s drawing onto the fabric transfer paper following the instructions on the packet.

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2. Cut out the image, rounding corners as you go as much as possible.

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3. Match the drawings up with the T-shirts.

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4. Iron your shirt to remove any wrinkles and then then position the drawings as desired.

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5. Next, follow the packet instructions to iron the drawings onto the shirts. This will vary depending on whether you are transfering onto light shirts or dark shirts. It may even vary from brand to brand so make sure to read the instructions provided.

Here’s what we did:

For light-colored shirt transfers: Turn the transfer paper image side down. Iron the paper to the shirt. Let cool, then peel off the paper backing.

For dark-colored shirt transfers: Peel off the paper backing first and then arrange the image right side up. Cover image with ironing paper provided then iron the image onto the shirt. Let cool then remove the ironing paper.

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Here’s my older daughter, Maia, pulling the paper backing off to reveal her owl drawings.

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And here’s my three-year-old Daphne’s very first person drawing transferred onto an oatmeal-colored shirt after we (um, I) botched the first attempt onto the navy shirt by not reading the instructions properly. Ahem. So learn from my mistakes, folks!

This is not a difficult process at all, but the iron-on instructions are different depending on whether you’re doing the light or dark T-shirt transfers.

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The girls wrapped the shirts with birthday paper and lots (and lots!) of tape and ribbon. They were SO excited to present their Daddy with the shirts they had made with their own drawings.

We’ve since made several more T-shirts using fabric transfers of their drawings. They each made a shirt for themselves. And I’ve heard rumblings that one or two might be in the works for me as a Mother’s Day present…

Jean Van't HulJean Van’t Hul writes about easy and fun arts and crafts ideas at The Artful Parent and has a new book out, The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art and Creativity, that combines the whys and how-tos of children’s art with 60 all-time favorite activities.

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  1. says

    What are they using to do their coloring? I’m trying to do something like this for a new cousin for my girls but I can’t quite tell what they are drawing on the transfer paper with in your pictures.



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