Making T-Shirts with Littles

I’m sure you’ve all seen the tutorials somewhere on the web for freezer (or contact) paper stencils. They.are.everywhere.

I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but I did want to show you an interesting spin that we came up with. A way to get the littles (even super little like my 14-month-old guy) involved in the freezer paper stenciling action. While we haven’t done it yet, this would be a great way to make up a quick gift for Dad this Father’s Day.


  • T-shirt or Onesie
  • Contact Paper
  • Exacto Knife
  • Large Sheet of Newsprint
  • Paintbrush
  • Fabric Paints
  • Fabric Marker
  • Egg Carton


Using a ruler and an exacto knife, cut out the shape or design that you want to stencil. Since my little man is a beginner, and we wanted something simple that would show off his, ahem, unique painting style, a basic rectangle seemed just right.

With your large sheet of newsprint (should be larger than the shirt you are going to be painting), cut out a similar shape. This need not be precise, but the shape should be larger than the shape you cut out of the contact paper and smaller than the piece of contact paper itself.

See, like this.

Now, decide where you want your design to be on the shirt. Use your ruler and fabric marker to make a few dots marking the approximate position.

Put the sheet of newsprint on top of the shirt, making sure that the position dots show through the opening.

Layer the contact paper on top of the newsprint. Make sure that the design you chose is centered before you stick it on. Smooth down the edges to be sure that the design is firmly attached.

Choose your color scheme. Since my little guy likes to mix it up, it made sense to choose two colors that wouldn’t turn into an icky-brown muck when mixed together. Blue and yellow did the trick. Red and blue would be nice. Green and white. You get the idea.

Load some paints into your egg carton paint dish, throw on a smock, and let your little one go. The entire newsprint area can be painted, but the only area of the shirt that will get paint is the part that you’ve chosen. Clever, huh?!

Note: the newsprint will get soggy, so you want to be sure you stop the painting fun before the paint starts soaking through to other areas of the shirt. When this started happening, I quickly swapped out the shirt and gave my guy another sheet of newsprint where he could continue his fun.

Set the shirt and newsprint aside to dry.

Remove the newsprint and contact paper, step back, and admire your little ones’ handiwork. It is cute and obviously made by a little person, without being over-the-top.

This one is a special little gift for a special little friend. Another one, for the papa, will be made soon. I’ll be sure to show the results when we get it done.

Disclaimer: The paints, obviously, are not mouth-friendly. Keep the super oral babes away and be sure you monitor all others closely!

  • Andrea

    I had been struggling with what to give Ben for dad-day…now I know! Thanks for a great idea!!


    Danielle Reply:

    You are more than welcome to come over and make one. We have all the supplies on hand.