Since our July 4th decorative tee shirts haven't been an annual craftivity, I can't quite call them a tradition. But given that this is our third installment, it's certainly something that's makes our Independence Day holiday all the more festive.
Check out our painted handprint flag shirt and July 4th tie-dye shirts from the past!
This year's shirt craft uses handmade freezer paper stencils and TULIP Color Shot Instant Fabric Color. We used red, white, and blue on grey tee-shirts. If I was to do it all again (and believe me, we will), I'd skip the white as it's barely visible and made our designs look washed out. Red and blue will suffice.
Here's how we made them.
Step 1 Pre-wash your tee-shirts if you're using new ones. Don't use fabric softener.
Step 2 Decide on your design. Silhouettes look awesome. Download something from the Internet or if you're artsy, draw something. If you like the ones we created, you can download a PDF of my designs from Google Drive here.
Step 3 Either cut your freezer paper to 8 1/2 x 11 and feed it through your printer or print the designs on regular paper and trace the design onto the freezer paper (hold both pages up to a window to create a light box effect). The design should be on the matte (NOT shiny) side of the freezer paper. Think about using upper case letters to lessen the number of tiny pieces of paper you'll have to iron back on once the design is cut out (e.g. the space inside the 'e').
Step 4 Using a craft knife (think pen-like exacto blade), carefully cut out the pattern with a cutting board underneath your freezer paper. Save the internal pieces you'll need to iron back on. NOTE: Be smart about who does the cutting. If you wouldn't hand your child a steak knife or let them cut an apple, they have poor fine motor skills, or can't be responsible with this tool, do the cutting yourself. For several of these reasons, I did all the cutting.
Step 5 Set your iron to medium-low heat (mine was on a setting of 3 out of 6). Place the design on your tee shirt in the desired place, with the shiny part of the freezer paper face down. Press the paper until it's attached in every place. NOTE: Irons are hot. Don't let your child use the iron if they're not capable of using it safely. Always provide supervision.
Step 6 Insert more freezer paper, a flattened garbage bag, cereal box, or cardboard shirt form inside the shirt. This is a MUST to avoid the paint bleeding through to the back of the shirt.
Step 7 Mask off the rest of the shirt. Overspray is a problem with this paint, which is basically spray paint for fabric. Any exposed areas of the shirt will inadvertently get painted. I used painters tape and plastic grocery sacks to mask off all exposed areas, even tucking the rest of the shirt under the cardboard form.
Step 8 Take the shirt to a well-ventilated area where you're not concerned with overspray ruining furniture, etc. We went outside and put our shirts in the grass. Shake each can of the paint for a minute. Then apply holding the can 6-8 inches above the shirt, slowly moving it across the stencil.
Step 9 Apply multiple light coats going back and forth. TIP: Kids tend to be heavy on the trigger and spray in one spot. Encourage your child to be gentle and move the paint can around the design. If too much paint is squirted in one spot, it WILL bleed beneath the freezer paper stencil.
Step 10 Wait until it dries, and remove all the stencil, painters tape, bags, and cardboard. Enjoy!
Want some great books to read to go along with this craft? Here's what I read to my six-year-old: