Every summer, my sisters and I get our kids together to do some fun crafts. It gives us planned time to see each other, creative enrichment for our kiddos, and it’s a whole lot of fun! One of my absolute favorite crafts to do is to let the kids make t-shirts. I love to see their imagination change from year to year, and besides, a cheap t-shirt that they’ve personalized is a great addition to their summer wardrobe. If it gets ruined in all their crazy summer antics, no sweat; we’ll do another next year.
If you ask any of the dozen or so kids that we wrangle into craft time, they will most likely tell you they loved doing a shirt for Independence Day the most. Using tape — big hit. Using paint — big hit. Getting to paint their hands — biggest hit of all!
So here’s how to make your own handprint flag shirts, just in time for July 4th!
- Purchase and pre-wash white t-shirts. Put a piece of cardboard inside to keep the paint from running through.
- We really love to use basic acrylic craft paints with a fabric medium added because it means we can choose the exact color of red and blue that we want. Medium is usually in a bottle just like the paint and will say Fabric Medium on it. If you can’t find the medium, you can buy fabric paint in the same consistency and bottles, but usually in a multi-set of rainbow colors.
Now for the steps!
- Lay the t-shirt on each child as if they are wearing it and measure a few inches down from the neck to get a top line for your flag. Help them to tape a few stripes and remember to leave a square for the blue, which will be a handprint. No one will mind if you can’t fit seven red stripes, so just enjoy it and don’t worry about perfect spacing.
- Let the kids paint all the red stripes.
- We like to use a paint brush for the blue hands, as it spreads the paint better than just dipping a hand in it. Be generous with the paint.
- Line up the hand and set it on the shirt. Run your fingers over each of their fingers and full hand, pressing firmly to get the whole hand shape.
- Touch up any of the handprint that’s missing with a paintbrush if you want. Let it dry before removing the tape to prevent smudges. (Lesson learned!)
- All done! Let the shirt dry overnight and then wash it on a very gentle cycle and hang dry or air fluff if possible. After the first very important wear, just pop that sucker in the washer like regular clothes and don’t worry about it. The fabric paint holds up really well!
That’s it! I hope you and your kiddos enjoy making this wearable art as much as we do. In our house, it’s usually a family affair and Mom, Dad, even the dogs sometimes join in on the fun.