Rainbow: Fabric Painted Boys T-shirt Inspiration

How about we kick off Color Your Summer 2012 with a rainbow of fabric painted shirts?

You just need a cotton tee, I found mine for $3.50 a pop at Walmart, some fabric paint, and maybe some freezer paper.

If you’ve never used fabric paint, you must! It’s good fun and inexpensive.

Take freezer paper. I bought mine in bulk at Sam’s club, but you could also just beg your butcher for a piece if you just want a little bit for a single project.

Print out the design you want onto printer paper: letters, a picture…whatever you desire.

Trace that image onto your freezer paper and cut it out with an exacto knife. This is your stencil.

Iron your stencil onto your shirt with a DRY iron (no steam) set on a cotton/high setting.

Slide some paper or cardboard inside the shirt, to prevent paint from bleeding to the back.

Then paint.

I use a textile medium with acrylic paint so that I can use whatever colors I want. Just mix two parts paint with one part textile medium.

Tip: Be sure that the brush is DRY. If it is damp with water in anyway, it will cause the paint to bleed through your freezer paper stencil.

Let the paint dry. I like to let it dry overnight. You can also speed things up with a hair dryer. Then peel away and ooh and ah at your handiwork.

Oh and…Don’t forget to heat set the paint when you’re done. A few presses from a dry iron should do it.

The fabric paint will feel stiff for the first few washes, but after a while it will soften right up.

This shirt was inspired by this one from Tantrums.  I simply made it brighter and incorporated neon. I have to say, I’m really digging the neon fad lately.

I must warn you though, that when using neon paint, the yellow doesn’t show up that great even on light colored shirts and all the neons don’t show up well on black or very dark colors.

Next, I of course had to make a squid shirt.

Owen is obsessed with squids, so this one is his favorite.

I simply found a free coloring sheet found through google images and traced that onto my freezer paper.

These sunglasses are images I saved from Picnik before it closed.

Seriously…my kids are such hams. :) I didn’t have to prompt Owen to model hardly at all. I just set him in front of this fence and he started posing and cheesing it up right away.

ha ha…

The last shirt I made for Owen was this Pac Man shirt.

I felt a little silly making a shirt for him with a game on it that he knows nothing about, but he told me this is one of his favorites…so. Maybe I’ll have to find it online and get him up to speed so he won’t be a poser.

Speaking of hams. Reid is the biggest one of them all. :) He rocks the camera like no other.

The stripes on his shirt are actually tire tracks.

Hot Wheels toy monster truck tire tracks to be exact.

It turned out even better than I imagined. I just evenly coated two of the toy tires around the whole tread of the tire and dragged them across the shirt. The paint needs to be reapplied after each roll across, but that’s it.

Cool and easy.

At the last minute, I decided I couldn’t leave Natalie out of the mix.

She got a couple of onsies herself.

Amy Christie sent me some booties in lovely packaging painted with ombre styled pencil dots. I thought the same technique would be pretty on a onsie.

Then I made one with just polka dots on a ruched onsie. For more about that click here.

Just a cute little touch to help liven up her onsie wardrobe…and it took just a few minutes on each side (minus the drying time).

Overall, I had serious fun personalizing my kids’ wardrobes with some one of a kind shirts.

And the best part, is seeing my kids love them too.

Hope you feel inspired to color your summer with a few fabric painted shirts!

Be sure to stop by Kojodesigns for more rainbow fun!


  1. says

    i love the pac man shirt! awesome summer activity for kids. and keep the natalie pictures coming, i can't get enough :)

  2. tijerasycuchara says

    Hello, your t-shirt are beautiful I like them.good bye

  3. says

    These are all so fantastic!!! The Pac man one is so awesome but I love the neon text and squid and dots and ALL OF THEM really. Such a fun way to kick it off, Delia!!

  4. says

    These are all awesome!! Fabulous job!
    You actually can tape freezer paper to a piece of regular letter paper and print directly onto the freezer paper :-)

    Nat is growing so fast!! She has the sweetest little chin

  5. says

    love the shirts. especially the "out to play" and polka dot ombre onesie.

    i've made a few things with the fabric paint/freezer paper method before (i posted about them on my blog: kcm702.wordpress.com), but after seeing your post and how fun your shirts are, i kinda want to make one for myself now!

  6. says

    We don't have freezer paper in Germany, but we found a good alternative. Funny that I posted a similar t-shrit projekt on minimatriarchin.blogspot my Admiral Ackbar looks a little bit like your squid. Thanks for sharing.

  7. says

    love freezer paper! I'm out of fabric paints at the moment and the fabric shop I go to seems to never have black or white -_- guess I should just order some online ^_^

    I think my favourite is the squid shirt! I love squids & octopii!

  8. says

    I was recently invited to a stork party and wanted to take a special gift for the soon-to-be-born baby boy, without breaking the bank in the process. I came across a lovely white tee shirt, and a brown pair of shorts. I decided to do some fabric painting to turn the tee shirt into something special. I chose an African design, but any other design will work just as well.

  9. says

    The out to play shirt – I've seen that sweatshirt on pinterest often and I was always thinking that would be a good one to freezer paper stencil! I like how it turned out, will definately be making one of those for my little man. They all are so fun to look at.

  10. says

    I love the Pac-Man shirt!!! In fact if you have no objections I would like to use it for the inspiration for a shirt for my husband for father's day! Now if only I could convince our teenage boys that that home printed shirts (something other than AE or other "name' brand companies…)

    Once again thank you for the inspiration!

    • says


      I am so sorry. I haven’t had anyone ask in almost two years. I went to find the file and I think that I got rid of it. You have my sincere apologies. I updated the post though! Sorry again.


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