Kid’s Party Craft: Sharpie T-Shirt
July 11, 2018
Boy riding bike with helmet on wearing sharpie t-shirt. A great kid's party craft.

Pinterest image Easy Kid's Craft showing a completed sharpie t-shirt

Kid’s Party Craft: Sharpie T-Shirt

I have a 4th of July baby, so naturally I’m overly excited about the red, white, and blue! Already in love with Americana it wasn’t a big leap for my patriotic heart. Last summer I tried out an easy Kid’s party craft that I’d seen over and over on Pinterest: the firework sharpie t-shirt. I’ve learned a few things over the last few years on how to be more successful with your activity so even a 3 year old can be proud of his efforts.

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Sharpie T-shirt Supplies

Sharpie t-shirt making supplies for the perfect kid's party craft

This is such an easy craft to make with kids. A great summer party activity or gift idea for Mother’s and Father’s Day. You will probably have everything you need at home already except for a plain white t-shirt.

  • Plain White t-shirt: Walmart or Target: You can pick up shirts for under $4 or a package of undershirts like this one {above} for less than $2
  • Colored Sharpies: Amazon: We stuck with red and 2 different blues {CAUTION – METALLICS DO NOT BLEED}
  • Isopropyl Alcohol: Walmart, Target, or Dollar Store
  • Kids medicine dropper: They’ll give them to you for free at the Target pharmacy {just ask nicely} if you don’t already have drawers full! ?
  • Small bowl or cup: To make dispensing the rubbing alcohol easier
  • Paper or plastic cup
  • Rubber band

Sharpie T-Shirt Step 1: Wrap

T-shirt rubberbanded around cup ready for sharpie pattern for the perfect kid's party craft

Start by wrapping a portion of the shirt around the top of the cup and affixing with a band. I like to start at the top and work my way down.

Sharpie T-Shirt Step 2: Draw

Boy proud of his sharpie shirt design for kid's party craft

I’ll admit that I did all of the “fireworks” on the first shirt but let my little man make his very own as we waited for mine to dry. I let him do the pattern, helping only to make sure there was enough ink in the circle. For a few of them I held the pen and he guided my hand. That was a great compromise for the birthday boy to feel like he’d done it all by himself!

Pro Tip: Have little kids use one color for each circle for a nicer finished product! 

Sharpie firework design on t-shirt for a great Kid's party craft

This is an example of a simple firework. I like adding the dots and making sure there’s enough ink. These work best with TWO colors but you need to stay away from complimentary color combinations:

  • Red/green
  • Orange/blue
  • Yellow/purple

Or your circle will turn into a mess.

Family sporting sharpie t-shirts for 4th of July

You can see my daughter’s shirt from two years ago that she did all by herself. This year I only set out a limited number of colors and noticed that the DARK BLUE bled the very best.

Sharpie T-Shirt Step 3: Bleed

Sharpie firework design with ink bleed for kid's party craft

Now for the fun part! Fill up your medicine dropper with rubbing alcohol and drip it all around the design until it is saturated. BUT be careful not to use TOO much or the excess will drip into the cup, taking with it some of your vibrant color. You can see how quickly it spreads as I add the alcohol in the video below.

The more rubbing alcohol you use, the more it will spread. If you don’t mind that then let the kids go crazy. I try to keep mine from spreading too much further than the rubber band or it can interrupt a neighboring design.

T-shirt with colorful "fireworks" created with sharpie for kid's party craft

Sharpie T-Shirt Step 4: Let Dry

Boy looking at sharpie t-shirt design for a great kids party craft

Let your shirts dry between circles to keep them from running together. In your downtime, work on another shirt and alternate back and forth between the two. My little man was thrilled to have his own shirt to do. We did our project outside and set each cup in the sun to dry. Just remember to remove the rubber band as it dries if you don’t want a white circle. But if you forget, it isn’t the end of the world. Also, if you don’t have sun, a hair dryer works great.

Sharpie T-Shirt Step 5: REPEAT 

Continue drawing and bleeding your designs until the t-shirt is as full as you desire. I did 6 circles on this 3T undershirt. As the t-shirts go up in size you may need to add a few more circles. Continue drying between the circles until you’re complete. Then….

Sharpie T-Shirt Step 6: Set and Enjoy

Boy riding bike with helmet on wearing sharpie t-shirt. A great kid's party craft.

Throw them in the dryer on HIGH HEAT for a full drying cycle {approx 45 minutes}. This will help set the color a little better. NOTE: the color WILL fade as you wash these shirts. To keep them looking as vibrant as possible I hand wash mine in cold water. But they are so easy to do that you could touch them up periodically through the year to keep them looking bright. I don’t want to worry about my kiddos getting their sharpie t-shirts dirty, it’s inevitable, they’re kids. But I love seeing how much they’ve grown each year when we compare our shirts from last year. Especially this little guy who is also pretty excited about his new big boy bike! What a great 3rd birthday!!

If you try this out with your family, let me know how it goes in the comment below. I LOVE doing these. They are so simple. You don’t have to be a great artist and while you don’t exactly want a free for all, {they ARE using Sharpies} only minimal adult supervision is required. This is a great 4th of July activity but you can do it anytime you’re looking for a summer boredom buster, or the perfect kid’s party craft idea. A party favor they make themselves is worth waaay more than candy!

Additional Reading

Until next time my friend,

Halfpint Design, personal headshot, Bri Adams

24 Comments

  1. Lisa

    Cute t-shirt! I really like this tutorial and want to design my son’s t-shirt by following your steps. I like this article so much. Thanks and keep sharing.

    Reply
    • Brianna Adams

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I hope your tshirt design goes well and most importantly that you have fun! It’s a great activity to do with the kids.

      Reply
  2. Beth

    This looks like such a fun project with the kiddos! Thanks for sharing! P.S. The children are absolutely adorable!

    Reply
  3. Natalie Mayhew

    This is such a fun idea! Baby you are a firework!

    Reply
  4. Susan

    Omg how fun is this ?!!! It’s so creative ! Love the idea Bri

    Reply
  5. Corrine

    So cool Bri! I love these, they look awesome and what a great craft project for the kids. Mine will be all over this, thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  6. Holly Lasha

    What a fun idea!!! It looks so simple and so cute!

    Reply
  7. Maybe I'll Shower Today

    I adore this idea. So cute!

    Reply
  8. Lori

    Oh my gosh Bri how totally cool is this!! Even my big guys would love this!! Thanks for sharing this awesome idea!!

    Reply
  9. Ashvini Naik

    Oh my God! These shirts look so gorgeous, Brianna. You’re such a designer & you have an eye for such beautiful creativity.

    Reply
  10. Sarina

    Love this Bri!! Such a fun idea to do with the kids.. They turned out great!

    Reply
  11. Holly

    What a fun crafty idea!! I bet the kids loved this!

    Reply
  12. Lori Goldman

    This is a neat project! I’ve totally been in the DIY mood lately and I think I have extra kids white t-shirts. I’ll have to go look! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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Gingerbread houses in a row as table runner centerpiece for a Christmas Cookie Exchange PartyI’m Bri of Parties With A Cause. I’m a mother to three crazy awesome kids, interior designer, & party planning junky. I love reading, globe trotting, and frozen yogurt. And I’m elevating the party experience one cause at a time! Read More

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