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You are here: Home arrow How To arrow How To Run A T Shirt Painting Party or Event

How To Run A T Shirt Painting Party or Event


T Shirt painting parties can be great fun for children of all ages. It is an opportunity to have a party with a difference where they are all encouraged and enabled to be creative. And it ends with a gift to take home that will remind them of the day and and that they can be proud of. The range of materials they can use is vast and the themes unlimited. See below for ideas and practical advice.


You will need:

T shirtsgood-tshirts-for-painting
  • Appropriately sized T shirts for each child – older girls may prefer more fitted T shirts
  • Coloured T shirts may add interest or a more contemporary feel to the event
  • If using a strong colour (eg black) be sure your fabric paints are adequate for the task
  • For best adhesion of fabric paints (all brands) the manufacturers advise that you prewash your T shirts in the absence of any fabric conditioner
  • Remember that many T shirts shrink on first washing
  • Paints and paint brushes or fabric pens or crayons
  • (Beware: some of these may require ironing to fix.  Be sure you know whether this is necessary and provide yourself with an iron – kept out of reach of the children)
  • Glow in the dark paints are great for Autumn and Winter events and parties
  • Stencils help all of the children to feel they can achieve something but not all children need these, some are very creative indeed
  • Like-wise, appliqués are great for instant effect – you could use iron-on appliqués, fabric glue or the children could sew their own
  • You can use sequins, beads, glitter, ribbon, ric rac braid, buttons, badges and attach them with a washable fabric glue or a needle and thread, as appropriate
The extras to make it run smoothly
  • how-to-paint-t-shirts.jpgPlenty of water with jam jars for rinsing brushes and wet cloths for wiping any stenciils
    Disposable or wipe-clean aprons for the children
    Rectangles of cardboard cut from boxes (or large tiles) to put inside the T-shirts to prevent the paint or glue penetrating onto the back.
    A low temperature oven (50°C), hair dryer, large airing cupboard or sunny shelf: alternatively, the children can take the T-shirts home to dry on their cardboard supports
    For iron on paints, felt tips, crayons or appliqués, an iron on a low-medium setting (silk) and a spare cloth or handkerchief
    A table with a wipe clean surface or disposable tablecloth
    You may want child-safe scissors for cutting any braid or fabric or for ‘distressing’ T shirts


  1.  Explain to the children the resources available and encourage each child to think about how they would like to lay out their T-shirt; they could plan it on paper
    ·         A theme or stencils and appliqués provide a useful starting point
    ·         Children can also be encouraged to be more creative and to add freehand designs of their choice 
For Dry to Fix Paints
  1. These are the easiest to use for groups of children as there is no need for the T shirts to be ironed at the event and if you are gluing any extra decorations in place this can be done all in one stage 
For Iron-On Materials
  1. If you are using iron-on felt tip pens or pastel crayons the children will need to decorate their T shirts early in the party and then an adult should fix them in place with an iron      
  2. Allow plenty of time for fabric paints that require ironing to fix: the T-shirts will need to be placed in a warm area to dry (no more than 50°C) before the paints can be fixed
  3. If you are using iron-on appliqués it may be easier if the T shirt decorating is done in two stages:  once they have selected their design and positioned their shapes the children could be occupied with a different activity or run off and play, whilst the appliqués are ironed in place by an adult, returning later to do any other decoration.
  4. Most of the iron-on materials can be fixed simply by an adult: place a spare cloth or handkerchief over the design and fix it with the iron on a medium-low or silk setting: 8-10 seconds of heat should be adequate but check the manufacturer’s instructions
For Materials to be Glued in Place
  1. If you are decorating your designs with sequins, beads, glitter, fabric pieces, ribbon or ric rac braid these should be added after any iron-on materials have been fixed in place (In which case the children will need to decorate their T shirts in stages*)
For Distressed T shirts
  1. Older children may enjoy to ‘distress’ their T shirts – you could teach them tie-dying using Dylon fabric dies or even just dilute bleach (for dark colours)
    ·         Beware of children staining or bleaching their own clothes
  2. If you are feeling adventurous you might trust them to gently distress the neck, sleeve and hem lines with scissors!  
Finally t-shirt-painting-party
  1. Don’t forget to label each T-shirt with the child’s name
  2. When the children leave give each parent or carer clear instructions on how to wash the T shirt and if any of the paints, felt tip pens or crayons have not been ironed in place at the party, full instructions on how to do so



© hopefish 2011

Hopefish T shirt Painting Party Packs

Hopefish can provide you with great value party packs with full instructions to help you to put on your event. Kits contain all you need for multiples of six children (with the option to add extra T shirts, aprons and brushes for any extra numbers) and include easy 'dry to fix' paints, aprons, brushes, quality T shirts, stencils, full instructions and lots more exciting stuff.

Dinosaurs  Cats   
Dogs, Ducks and Rabbits   Horses and Farm Animals
Fairies and Flowers       Butterflies, Hearts and Flowers
Elves and Fairies Hibiscus Flowers, Love heart and Kanji ‘Friends'     
Mermaids and Fishes Surf Boards, Sharks and Hibiscus Flowers
Treasure Island Rainforest
Customise Your T Shirt Painting       Cut Your Own Stencils - Graffiti or Banksy
Glow in the Dark and Halloween  Teenagers or Girlie
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