Painted t-shirts needs to be a memory every child has doing! Check out these toddler-style t-shirts shared by Nicole of Practical Research Parenting.
I want my 2 year old son to be as excited about giving presents as receiving them. So this year I decided we’d make t-shirts together. I’ll share how we did it and what I learned.
Toddler-Proof Painted T-Shirts Designs
I used contact paper to make stripes and designs on the shirts (I had to do this bit alone). I wanted the t-shirts to have a design, without having to be precious about where and how Zander (my 2 year old) did the painting.
I found that using inverse pictures on the front and back saved time on the contact paper design and cutting process.
For one of the shirts, I left one side without contact paper. The idea in my head was that I’d get Zander to walk across it with painted feet, and we’d get these cute little Zander-tracks. It didn’t work.
The paint lasted about one step and Zander’s feet stuck to the shirt. I learned the importance of the toddler-proof contact paper plan.
I say loosely because I didn’t measure, and Zander helped me pour the medium and squeeze out the paint.
I used only primary colours. Mixing colours and finding out what colour they turned into was a good activity for Zander, though I found that if we didn’t mix the paints it made for nice marbled designs.
Experimenting with Textures
We tried out many different textures, I initiated most of them, but Zander incorporated some too, like the lids off the paint.
Some things worked well:
- Sponges cut into shapes (Though Zander rarely made clear shape prints – he’d push too hard, too soft, too many times, or with too much paint)
- A fern frond
- Truck and car wheels
- Hand prints
- Spiky ball
- Spray bottle (though adding too much water combined with Zander spraying super close up led to leaking under the contact. Plus most of our gear now has blue spots)
Some that didn’t work so well:
- Coiled rope
- Foot prints
- Gum-leaves (gum nuts and pollen everywhere)
For an Even Better Time Making Painted T-Shirts
What I’d do differently next time:
1. Get my family to donate shirts rather than buying them. Lots of people have a favourite shirt they never wear anymore because of a small stain, but they don’t want to throw it out because it still fits so well. These shirts would be perfect for reviving this way.
2. Decrease the workload on Zander (my 2 year old). We attempted to paint 10 shirts in a couple of months – Zander was sick of painting by the end. Next time I’d invite his friends to help – make a painting play date, leave more time, or make a few different types of presents that don’t all involve painting shirts.
This list contains affiliate links to help support hands on : as we grow, thank you!
- Acrylic paint (white, red, yellow, blue)
- Textile medium
- Bucket and water (for washing hands)
- Contact Paper
- Textured painting tools (see above and add your own)
- Permanent markers or fabric markers
Nicole Weeks is a Mom, and Psychologist. Since completing her Masters and PhD, she has focused her research on parenting challenges and joys while she stays at home with her two young kids. She shares what she learns through her blog and podcast at www.