Up-cycled, hand painted t-shirts

Here are some of the fantastic, hand painted t-shirts that sixty year five children did for the theme of rainforests. They all brought in old t-shirts that needed to be re-vamped and up-cycled.IMG_1322 IMG_1323 IMG_1324 IMG_1326 IMG_1327 IMG_1328 IMG_1329 IMG_1330 IMG_1331 IMG_1332 IMG_1333

I just love how varied each of them are. There were so many fantastic ones that I simply couldn’t post them all here. I will run you briefly through the steps they took to complete these.

First I created a powerpoint presentation showing examples of hand painted t-shirts I found on the internet. I explained that first they were to come up with a design in their sketch books. Then develop and practice drawing the animal that featured in the design until they were happy. They were also to decide on the colour paint (and how to mix it), size etc and make detailed notes, also planning where on the t-shirt their design would go (front, back, chest, shoulder etc.) I also made a check list for each session to ensure the instructions were clear and all steps were completed in order.

Next the children completed a to-scale drawing on paper of the design. Using their notes, they worked out how to mix the types of colours they needed, again taking notes of any changes.

Small pieces of square t-shirt were then given to the children as well as a tiny bit of fabric paint to experiment with the feel of painting on fabric. Here are some of these.


Before painting on the t-shirts the design had to be drawn onto the fabric first in pencil, checking that it was the correct size, proportions, and placing on the t-shirt. They put a white board between the two pieces of the t-shirt (front and back) so that there was a hard surface to lean on and also to protect the bottom layer of fabric from getting paint on it. They used pegs to secure it to the board to slightly stretch the fabric so that it was easier to  draw and paint on.

As the children had taken precise notes of the amount of paint they needed and the colours required for their art work it was easy to decant just enough paint for every one and avoid wasting precious and rather expensive fabric paint. The children took several 2 hour sessions to complete their t-shirts and were very excited and attentive throughout the project.

I mixed Acrylic paints (water based) with a Chromacryl fabric medium. Once dry it must be ironed on with a hot iron to fix it to the t-shirt (obviously follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results).

NB it took a while for the children to understand that painting on a t-shirt needed patience and a slightly fuller brush of paint as it takes a while for the paint to sink in to the weave of the fabric. Some of them brought airtex school tops to paint onto, these were less effective due to the fabric weave.


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