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DIY: Custom Birthday Shirts

September 23, 2016

It’s become a tradition for me to make a custom shirt for my boys on their birthdays.  So far, their birthday themes have been things that they have been very passionate about, so it just seems fitting to make shirt to go along with the theme that they can continue to wear all year long.

This year for Chase’s 7th birthday, he chose the theme “Mad Scientist”.  I decided to make a shirt with an atom on it because he likes to draw them in his free time.

I have found that what works best for me is to use acrylic paint and mix it with fabric medium.  You combine 2 parts paint with 1 part of the medium and stir well.  The fabric medium helps the paint set into the fabric and not wash out when you launder the shirt.  It has help up amazingly well and the paint on the shirts I made 3 years ago still looks good and has not faded much.

I usually just freehand draw the design onto the shirt with a washable fabric pen first.  This way, if I make a mistake, it washes out easily.

Before you paint, be sure to place something inside the shirt to prevent the paint from leaking through to the back of it.  I usually tape some wax paper over a piece of cardboard, but this time I was out of cardboard, so I just used a magazine instead.  Insert the wax paper covered magazine or cardboard into the shirt, then you can paint your design.

For this particular shirt, I used a fine tipped Sharpie to outline the balls in the atom nucleus to give them definition.  So far, the Sharpie has not faded when it’s been washed.

Here are some shirts I have made from past birthdays:

This was my attempt at drawing the face of my son’s beloved stuffed dog, Walter.
For both the dog shirt and the firetruck shirt, I cut out felt and then used iron on adhesive to glue it to the shirt.  It worked pretty well, but it made the shirt rather stiff, and I had to reglue a few things that came loose after washing it several times.   
“Science is Awesome”, inspired by Flint Lockwood’s shirt on Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.
Radioactive themed party
 Bug themed party for Beckham’s 2nd birthday

Niki French

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About Me

Hey there!

I'm Niki, founder of Midwestern Mama. This lifestyle blog is a place where I get to share things I am passionate about with people like you! I love fashion, home decor, DIY's and easy meals, among other things. I'm so glad you're here! Read More


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