Get ready for a patriotic summer with a DIY Patriotic T-shirt hand painted with fabric paint! This is a great activity to do with kids as it uses a freezer paper stencil that is a very affordable material. Let their personality shine as they paint their own design in this patriotic design, available as a free SVG cut file and free PDF file!
After having had several experiences of partnering freezer paper stencils with SoSoft Fabric paint, including these summer t-shirts from last year, and Brielle’s 100 Days of School T-shirt, these girls were ready to get their painting on with another DIY creations they can sport this summer! This time around, I went with a Patriotic set of stars so it doesn’t date itself with a year.
A quick note: I LOVE my Cricut and fully suggest anyone who is even the slightest bit crafty to get one! (You can see my full Cricut Dos and Don’ts here) BUT if you don’t have a Cricut, you can still make these shirts as the star shape is pretty easy to cut out with a craft knife and ruler! I’m providing both the SVG and PDF file so non-Cricut users can use the latter.
Here’s what we needed:
- T-shirt (Most of my DIY kids t-shirts use these Cat and Jack ones from Target)
- Freezer Paper (I bought a big roll at Walmart)
- Cricut Maker
- Cricut EasyPress (or iron)
- Patriotic Stars SVG (for Cricut users) or Patriotic Stars PDF (non Cricut users)
- Fabric Paint (we used Deco Art’s SoSoft brand)
- Sponge brush
- Scrap cardboard
First, cut your design. If you have a Cricut, upload the SVG file in the Cricut Design Space. Before going to cut, move the whole design to the center of your screen, as seen above. This will give you some wiggle room around the edge of the design to prevent any painting mistakes!
To create the freezer paper stencil, set your Cricut to the lowest material setting if it’s an Explore Air 2 or select “Freezer Paper” if it’s a Cricut Maker.
Place your freezer paper on the mat with the shiny side down and send the file to cut. TIP: a fresh blade might be needed since the freezer paper is so thin! Mine was way old when I started this and I had to put a new blade in.
If you don’t have a Cricut, print out the PDF and lay it down under the freezer paper. Trace with a pencil then cut out with a craft knife and ruler.
Weed your design. TIP: This design includes some inner stars. If you want to use them as designed, lift them off your mat using your spatula, not your weeding tool to keep from poking any holes in them and put them aside to add in the next step. This is why I highly recommend all Cricut crafters have Cricut’s 5 piece basic tool set.
To adhere, lay the shiny side of the freezer paper stencil centered on the front of the shirt. Use your EasyPress or iron to attach this freezer paper stencil in place. This is also when you should add those inner stars you saved from the wedding process!
When it comes to painting, first cover your table surface. Insert a piece of cardboard inside the shirt to prevent the paint from bleeding to the back.
When painting with kids (or hey, even us adults) I find it easiest to use a different plate and foam brush for each paint color to keep it all separate.
Smocks are also recommended since it’s fabric paint!
Apply paint to your t-shirt in an up and down motion, not a back and forth painting motion. This will help keep the stencil down and prevent bleeding under it.
With the fabric paint, you can give a full coverage with a heavy application or only put it on lightly to make a more vintage look. Either way, it looks great and it’s hand painted by you!
I gave the girls the traditional patriotic colors of red and blue, plus some lighter blues and a pink accent to make it a little different. They chose their own placement of colors! I barely even flinched when Hailey chose to put two red stars right next to one another. :)
We used Deco Art SoSoft White, Santa Red, Baby Pink Deep, Primary Blue and Baby Blue Deep.
After painting, carefully peel the stencil off, which honestly is my favorite part! DecoArt recommends letting the designs fully dry for 72 hours before wearing or washing.
The girls loved that they got to paint a patriotic t-shirt by themselves! Even though we were passed the 4th of July holiday by the time we finished these, patriotic stars are in style 365 days of the year so they happily support America’s colors all short sleeve season long!
Check out other projects we’ve made using this brand of fabric paint: