I don’t think the excitement of getting items in the post (that aren’t bills or junk mail) ever wanes. N loves getting post, and he was excited when a mystery parcel turned up one morning. I hadn’t ordered anything for him, I’d never heard of the company it came from, and there was no note to say who had sent it. But it was a nice treat, and a great activity to do while at home. It was time to do some t-shirt design and painting.

After some digging with the company who it came from, we worked out it was sent from my best friend, N’s godmother. A t-shirt painting kit was just the right thing for N as it kept him entertained for a while. Plus he got to order me around when it got a bit complicated cutting up the vinyl for some letters.

The kit came from The Craft Cabin E4. You can order craft kits from them, or it would be easy enough to make your own kit up.

tennis themed paint masked t shirt

In the t shirt painting kit there was a white t-shirt, 3 small pots of paint suitable for fabric painting that will set fast long term, a paintbrush, some sticky back vinyl and instructions. It did say there was a sponge but there wasn’t one in our pack.  We just cut up a cleaning spongey cloth and used that instead which worked fine.

The vinyl is clever. You could obviously just paint on the t-shirt with the brush but this kit was about using masks and painting around the masks. Included in the vinyl were a few shapes – a rocket, car and star, but N didn’t want to use those. There was plenty of vinyl to design a couple of designs. 

N decided to do a tennis t-shirt, and once we’ve done the letters, there was still plenty of vinyl and paint to do another t-shirt.

We just needed to choose the design, cut out the shapes in the vinyl.  The vinyl was stuck onto the t-shirt, then you dab on paint around the edges of the shape. If you cut out your shapes cleanly, you could use the frame where the shape was removed from (the negative shape) as well as the shape itself.

Fabric painting a t-shirt with a mask or stencil

You need:

T-shirt – white is best to get the best colour contrast
Sticky back vinyl
Paintbrush or sponge
Fabric paint

How to paint the t-shirt

1, Decide on your design, draw the shapes or letters you want on the vinyl, and cut out. If it’s not a solid shape make sure you’ve cut out the area that you want coloured.  For letters remember to reverse them before cutting out.

cutting out the vinyl

2, Remove the paper on the sticky side of the vinyl and stick onto the t-shirt in the right place.

3, Put newspaper or cardboard inside the t-shirt. This stops the paint going through from the front to the back of the t-shirt

4, Put a little of the paint you’re going to use beforehand onto a small plate. Using a sponge dab the colour around the edge of the mask shape. Start lightly, you want it precise around the shape edge, but the outside to be more ‘open’.

dabbing pain over the ma

5, Once all the shapes have been painted around, peel off the vinyl sticker to leave the paint underneath. 

finished dabbing paint over vinyl masc
stencilled painted t shirt

6, Leave to dry. Once dry put a tea towel over the painted area on the t-shirt and iron over to set it. You should then be able to wash the t shirt as normal.

We did both the front and back of the t-shirt, and just waited for the front to dry before turning over and doing the back. Luckily we remembered just in time that we needed to reverse the letters when cutting out, otherwise it would have gone a bit wrong. N was really pleased – it worked out really well. Doing the fabric painting was good fun, and N enjoyed creating exactly the t shirt he wanted. 

See how we did it in the video

Check out my post on other tennis themed activities.

Have you done fabric painting to make your own t-shirts?

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2 Comments

  1. What a lovely gift and a fab activity. It looks like a lot of fun and the end result looks brilliant.

    • Emma

      He was really pleased with it. T shirt’s a bit big at the moment though

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