Calling All Crafty Moms: 6 Ways to Transform a Plain T-Shirt 

The temperatures are dropping and the days are growing shorter – which means that outdoor excursions to the playground, park, and beach are over. If you have little ones at home, it’s time to plan some fun crafts to fill the days, encourage your kids’ creativity, and stave off boredom. 

Painting and playing with colored clay are always fun, but why not mix things up and try your hand at some t-shirt crafts? T-shirts are inexpensive and easy to come by, or you can clean out the family’s dressers and upcycle old shirts for an eco-friendly craft. 

Ready to get your creativity on? Here are 6 ways to transform a plain t-shirt into a cute and chic garment that’s sure to inspire compliments! 

Tie Dyeing 

Although we associate tie dyed t-shirts with the hippie movement of the 1960s, this method of decorating fabric actually dates back to the 6th century! Traditional tie dyeing has roots in India, Japan, and Africa. Here in the United States, we have a marketing executive named Don Price to thank for tie dyeing. Price, who lived in NYC’s Greenwich Village, asked some of his artistic, free-spirited neighbors to create dyed t-shirts as a way to market Rit fabric dye – the rest, as they say, is history. 

The easiest way to tie dye is to buy a kit that includes everything you’ll need: the dye itself, applicator bottles, gloves, and rubber bands. Cover a table or counter with a large plastic bag, and make sure the kids are all wearing old clothing and/or smocks. You’ll also need a supply of 100% cotton shirts. 

The spiral design is a classic, but there are many more tie dye patterns you can achieve by folding rubber-banding your shirt. Or let your imagination run wild and try some freestyle designs! 

Dip Dyeing 

For a slightly more sophisticated style, try dip dyeing. Leave the upper portion of your shirt or other garment in its original color. Drape it over a yardstick or broomstick so that the bottom portion sits directly in the dye. To achieve an ombre effect, adjust the shirt so that half of the previously dyed section is now out of the dye bath, and let the remainder continue to soak up color. 


Whatever your child is currently crazy about – dinosaurs, fish, hearts, cats, stars, polka dots – you can probably find a die-cut stencil of it. Or create your own with a craft knife and some thin cardboard, like a cereal box.  

Stencils can be used with fabric paint, of course, but if you have a kid who loves all things sparkly, get some fabric glue and fine glitter for your stenciled t-shirt. Unlike tie dyeing, stencils don’t require all-cotton shirts; instead, try a cotton-poly blend like these Next Level wholesale t-shirts. 


Remember iron-on appliques? They’re back, and they’re better than ever. Iron-on appliques are a super simple way to add pizazz to an ordinary shirt. Choose from glitter, flocking, or embroidered appliques. You can also purchase a transfer sheet that will let you cut out your own shape or design and iron that on. 

The hardest part about this t-shirt craft might be finding your iron! 

No-Sew Designs 

If you have a t-shirt, a pair of scissors, and access to Pinterest, there is virtually no end to the variety of no-sew t-shirt makeovers you can fashion. Make your own cold-shoulder top, create boho fringe, turn a t-shirt into a halter or tank top, or slice your shirt down the back and lace it up corset-style. 

It’s worth noting that for best results, you will need a very sharp scissors – so this craft is best for older kids, like tweens and teens. It’s a fantastic way to upcycle t-shirts that have a cool design or image, but that are too large. Protip: check out the men’s t-shirts at the thrift store! 


Dig through your craft supplies or take a stroll through the dollar store for small embellishments that you can add to a t-shirt with fabric glue. We’re talking ribbon, tulle, yarn, felt shapes, tiny beads, rhinestones or faux pearls, and lace.  

Feeling extra crafty? Combine any of these embellishments with a fabric stencil. For example, stencil a ballerina on your t-shirt, then glue on a tutu made of tulle. Or use tiny, multi-colored pom-poms with a gumball-machine stencil. Spell out your name with rhinestones. Cut the neckband out of a shirt and add a lace collar.  

Feeling Inspired Yet? 

We hope that this round-up of simple yet sensational t-shirt crafts has inspired you to get crafting! Start a conversation with other moms by leaving a comment below, or sharing this post on your Facebook page. Which of these t-shirt ideas do you think your kids will be most excited about? Do you have any suggestions for what to do with t-shirts once they’re too frayed to wear anymore? We’d love to hear all about it!

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