Buddy shirts

There’s a lot of handmade action happening around here these days. We’re moving fast to make all the magic happen by a week from Thursday!


Miss K is working on Buddy Shirts for her half brothers. This is a great project that’s fun, gives kids the satisfaction of a successful project and subtley reinforces the value of handmade.

Start with new t-shirts. We got ours from Target — they have very soft and cozy shirts for about $5 — but craft stores also carry them. Then get some fabric paint. Again, the craft store is the place to go. And right now, they’re practically giving away the stuff.

Be sure to wash and dry the shirts first. But don’t add any softeners or the like to the wash. You want fresh, untreated cotton. Oh yes, be sure to get cotton shirts. A cotton/poly blend may not take the fabric paint as well.

Now comes the fun part: the stencil. For the first batch of shirts, we used stencils we found for $1 at the craft store. We’re planning on custom stencils next. For custom, just use freezer paper (found in the plastic wrap, foil section of the grocery store) as the base of the stencil. Draw what you like, cut and your stencil is ready.

Tape down the stencil on the shirt securely. Masking tape or painters tape is best … ours went missing so packing tape had to suffice but masking is better! Also, place a piece of waxed or freezer paper between the front and back of the shirt so that your paint does not bleed through. That would be such a bummer!

Start painting using a stencil brush (round) or sponge brush. Go slow. Wash brushes in between color changes. Then let set overnight.


When dry, take off the stencil and set the paint with the iron. To do this, place a cloth over the painted shirt and iron the cloth. Use a hot setting but without steam.


The finished product, ready for wrapping. Oh, we call these buddy shirts because K’s 2-and-a-half year old brother nicknamed her Buddy. We’re not sure where he got that but Buddy is one of his most favorite people in the world so we knew he’d treasure a Buddy Shirt.


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