Creating Wearable Art: Printmaking with Kids

Creating art they can wear provides a wonderful incentive to motivate children who are less interested in art making projects. Of course, those who like to get creative will love this one too! Christie Burnett from Childhood101 joins us today with a fantastic tutorial, sharing one of the ideas from her brilliant new book  Time to Create: Hands On Explorations in Process Art for Young Children. It’s a book I love, packed with creative kids’ ideas, so do click through to take a look.Here’s Christie…

hot to prisnt a t-shirt :: t shirt craft


Creating Wearable Art: Printmaking with Kids

We enjoy many different forms of printmaking regularly in our home and have since my now five-and-a-half year old was under two years of age. Printmaking is a wonderful creative art process and offers both simple and more complex processes to suit children of all ages – toddlers will enjoy monoprinting directly onto the tabletop, preschoolers and kindergarteners will love exploring the printed textures of a whole range of household objects and older children can be challenged to create more intricate designs with virtually any printmaking process. This printmaking project involves creating an image on a styrofoam or printing foam surface and transferring the image to a t-shirt or other fabric with fabric paint and a roller. Younger children may need a little practical assistance with some of the more technical aspects of the process, whilst older children will enjoy taking ownership of the entire creative process.

Printmaking with Kids

You will need:

  • A pre-washed t-shirt or other fabric to print upon
  • Foam painting roller or soft, rubber hand roller (also known as a brayer)
  • Fabric paint
  • A smooth, flat surface to roll the paint out onto – a styrofoam food tray or plastic place mat will work well
  • A ballpoint pen
  • A styrofoam or printing foam surface to engrave – we used a smooth styrofoam meat tray that I cut to size with a utility knife (after removing the curved edges of the tray). Commercially produced sheets of printing foam are commonly available from educational art suppliers.
  • A metal soup spoon
  • A covered work surface

To make: 

styrofoam printing

1. Encouraging them to use gentle pressure (you do not want to split or pierce through the styrofoam), have your child draw an image or design of their choice onto the foam using the pen.

Printmaking - Creating wearable art with kids 3

2. Pour a generous amount of the fabric paint onto your rolling surface (you’ll be surprised how much paint a foam roller will absorb). Roll back and forwards over the paint with long strokes of your foam roller or brayer until the surface of the roller is evenly coated with paint.

printing with kids

3. Roll the paint onto the foam surface until it is evenly covered.


4. Carefully place the foam image-side-down onto the fabric (young children will need help with this), being careful to position it where you want the print to be. 5. Using the back of the soup spoon, rub over the entire surface of the foam with gentle, circular motions.

Printmaking - Creating wearable art with kids 6

6. Carefully lift the foam to reveal the printed image. 7. Follow the fabric paint manufacturer’s instructions for permanently fixing the paint to the fabric. For example, ours required five minutes heating with an iron.

printing on t-shirts

Once created your foam printing blocks can be used again and again for printing your image onto both fabric and paper. Why not experiment to see how your image turns out when printed onto a range of other surfaces?

 time to create

Time to Create: Hands On Explorations in Process Art for Young Children is now available internationally through all major online booksellers, including The Book Depository, Amazon, Fishpond and Barnes & Noble.

Want to know more about Time to Create?

Keep an eye on the following blogs for upcoming stops along our international blog tour…

Picklebums . An Everyday Story . Learn With Play At Home . Octavia & Vicky . Sesame Ellis . Nurturestore . Simple Kids . Our Everyday Things . Rainbows Within Reach . Teach Preschool . At Home With Ali . Go Explore Nature . Not Just Cute . Lessons Learnt Journal . PreK+K Sharing . The Imagination Tree

C Burnett profile pic

Christie Burnett is a qualified early childhood teacher and mum of two very busy, little girls who shares her parenting adventures and passion for early childhood education on her award winning blog, Her first book Time to Create: Hands-On Explorations in Process Art for Young Children is now available internationally through all major online booksellers, including The Book Depository, Amazon and Fishpond.


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