For our second session of summer craft camp, we made iron-on vinyl t-shirts. I want to incorporate different varieties of crafts for our weekly camp sessions. I thought this one would be a great way to teach my kids how we can use computers to make a design, and then how we can apply that design to a t-shirt. This isn't a sponsored post, but we did use my Cricut and it worked wonderfully.
- T-shirts. You can always find t-shirts at craft stores, but I don't love how they are unfitted. I ended up getting some colorful shirts at Children's Place and Target that are more fitted and were probably the same price as the craft store.
- Iron-on Vinyl. I used the Cricut Iron-on material because I had it on hand. If you look in the electric cutter section of your craft store, you can find other brands and colors. Amazon has a great selection as well. They have glitter iron on HERE and foil iron on HERE as well as solid colors HERE.
- An iron + ironing board.
- An electric cutting machine and computer. I used my Cricut and Cricut Design Space to make our designs, but you could use whichever cutter you have. If you don't have an electric machine, you can make designs with scissors. Just keep in mind that you will need to cut your design in the mirror image of how you want it to appear on your shirt.
To begin, your kids need to brainstorm ideas of designs they would like to put on their shirts. My kids were coming up with all sorts of ideas: ice cream, cats, Harry Potter, cupcakes, etc. Some ideas lend themselves to iron-on images a little better than others. We searched in Cricut Design Space for their designs, and found images that were fairly simple and would show up well on shirts. I purchased several images from the Cricut library that I didn't already own. We even used the t-shirt template on Design Space to see how it would look. The final designs my kids chose included starfish, ocean waves with the word "Waves" cut out, a panda, and a cat and some text from the Warrior Cats book series that my oldest is obsessed with.
Cut out your design onto the vinyl, and make sure that you cut using the mirror image so that your design will show up the correct way on your shirt.
You will need to peel away the excess vinyl from the plastic, and the best way to get those little pieces out is using a weeding tool or a large quilting needle.
Once you have your excess vinyl removed, you need to decide where you want to place your design. You can try positioning it around the shirt to find what looks best. My oldest daughter had her own idea about exactly where everything needed to go. Even though it may not have been what I would have chosen, I was impressed with how she designed it.
Now iron-on your design. You want to iron the shirt just for a few seconds before applying the vinyl so that the shirt is warm. This helps the Iron-on material to stick better. When you iron-on your design, use a towel under the iron to prevent sticking. Follow the directions on your iron-on vinyl, but mine said to iron the front and the back for about 30 seconds to one minute each. Then you can peel away your plastic and see your completed design.
My kids enjoyed this craft, although it was a little trickier because we were only using one computer and they had to take turns figuring out their designs individually. It isn't as great for a big group because of the individual time spent on the computer, but you could even have kids pick their designs ahead of time, then cut them all so that they can all iron-on at the same time. I did all of the ironing because I didn't want my kids to use the iron, but if you have older kids, they may be able to do that part with supervision. They were able to help with peeling away the excess vinyl and with showing me how they wanted their designs positioned.
My kids have loved wearing their shirts and telling everyone that they designed them! It's fun to have a one-of-a-kind shirt to wear in the summer!