Homemade Christmas Gift: Paint a Shirt

For a sweet homemade Christmas gift that your kids can make, try this fun project.  Use fabric paint to paint a shirt with these two methods.  Kids Activities Blog loves to share cute ideas like this that lets kids customize items they might already have around the house.

homemade Christmas gift

Homemade Christmas Gift


  • shirt {or other clothing item}
  • fabric paint
  • paint brushes or sponges
  • masking tape or painter’s tape
  • cookie cutters

{Use Masking Tape}

This method is probably the easiest of the two methods. It is also a great way to let the kids be involved with the gift making. I’m using a child-sized apron as my clothing item of choice. You will need to pre-wash your clothing item without fabric softener. If your fabric is wrinkled, you will need to iron it. Then, follow the easy steps below.

paint a shirt

  1. Add masking tape to your clothing item wherever you don’t want paint to show. I chose simple stripes for my pattern. You could do a checkered pattern, diamonds, horizontal lines, etc. For inspiration, take a look at geometric designs you like on clothes at the store.
  2. Place a piece of cardboard or freezer paper in between the layers of fabric {the inside of the shirt} so the paint will not bleed through.
  3. Paint the clothing item with your choice of fabric paint colors. I chose to buy the colors red, yellow, blue, black, and white. That way I can make nearly any color I want. I recommend using a paint sponge for covering large areas and a small paint brush for painting smaller areas. Sometimes you will need two coats of paint.
  4. When your paint seems pretty dry, you may remove the tape. Peel away carefully. Expect to see some imperfections in the lines when using tape.
  5. Read the directions on your fabric paint. It will tell you how long to wait for paint to be completely dry and how long before you can wash it. Some will say you need to set the paint with an iron. I do this anyway. After the paint is completely dry, place another piece of fabric {an old t-shirt} over the painted fabric and iron.

My almost 3 year old painted the apron on his own. He chose what color he wanted {pink}, and then changed colors quite often. After pink, he wanted red. Then, he requested blue. He mixed the blue with red and ended up with purple. He next requested yellow. I said no. I didn’t want the apron to turn brown. He also requested black. Again, I said no. He was limited to the colors red, blue, and white. Other than that, he had free reign of painting the apron.

Paint a Shirt

{Use Cookie Cutters}

This method is an easy way of using stencils without making any. I have a large collection of cookie cutters. We use them more often for painting than for making cookies. They make great stencils. You can trace the cookie cookie shape onto freezer paper to make a stencil. Or you can do what I did and place the cookie cutters directly on the fabric. The only trick is to make sure the cookie cutters do not move. You have hold them down and keep them still the entire time you are painting. Be sure to paint around the inside edge and fill in the center. It’s really easy. {Follow the steps above for all of the other details.}

design a tshirt

More Kids Activities

A homemade Christmas gift comes from the heart.  Your kids will enjoy learning how to paint a shirt whether it is for a gift or for themselves.  Here are some other great kids activities with painting:

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About Trisha

Trisha is a stay at home mom to her 3-year old son, Aiden. She writes about their adventures at Inspiration Laboratories, a blog dedicated to encouraging learning through creativity and play. Trisha is an educator with a passion for science literacy. It is never too early to start encouraging science learning (or any kind of learning for that matter). Follow along on Facebook, Twitter as @inspire_labs, Google+, and Pinterest.