Can You Put Temporary Tattoos on Clothing? Let's Find Out!

The DIY Designer
by The DIY Designer
5 Materials
5 Minutes

If you’ve been wanting to refresh your wardrobe without spending any money, I’ve got the perfect way to do it: temporary tattoos.

I know what you’re thinking: can you put temporary tattoos on clothing? Turns out, yes, and it’s not just clothing! You can put temporary tattoos on shoes, too!

In this tutorial, we’re going to be putting temporary tattoos on shoes, jeans, a leather jacket, a white button-down shirt, and some of my young daughter's clothes too. Let’s get started!

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Tools and materials:

  • White shirt
  • Jeans
  • Leather jacket
  • Shoes 
  • Temporary tattoos 
  • Paper towels
Cutting around the temporary tattoos

1. Cut around the temporary tattoos

The first thing you want to do is cut out each of your tattoos. There’s no reason to achieve perfection, but you should trim them with about a half inch all the way around.

This is going to help when you’re laying out multiple tattoos so you can get a good idea of the design and placement without having to cut it out perfectly.

Placement the temporary tattoos on the shoes

2. Placement

Now, figure out where and how you want to place them. If you do this design-facing-up, you’ll get a better sense of the color and placement.

Keep in mind that when you put them down, they’re actually going to be facing down so the image is going to be reversed.

Sticking the temporary tattoo on a shoe

3. Stick the temporary tattoo to the item

Peel off the plastic protective covering and just lay it face down wherever you want it to be.

Make sure you’re extra sure about the placement because once it starts sticking to the shoes or clothing you choose, you’re not going to be able to pick it up or move it around without ruining it!

Temporary tattoo put on with a wet cloth

4. Apply a damp paper towel on top

Now, grab a damp paper towel or cloth and saturate the temporary tattoo just as you would if you were applying it on your skin.

If you've never used a temporary tattoo before, this is going to transfer the tattoo from the paper to your desired surface.

I recommend patting and pushing down on it for about 15-20 seconds, but it may vary depending on the fabric you’re transferring the tattoo onto.

Peeling the transfer paper to reveal the temporary tattoo design

5. Peel to reveal!

Now peel! Gently, and that’s it! Don’t worry about any water marks as they’ll go away as soon as they dry. It looks so good and I’m so impressed! 

Applying temporary tattoos on shoes

6. Apply the rest of the tattoos! 

For the other shoe, I decided to apply the butterfly tattoos down the tongue of the shoe.

Some things to keep in mind: you might want to remove all of the shoelaces to get better access, and if it looks like any of the edges aren’t laying perfectly flat, go in after you’ve already peeled it with the damp cloth and pat them into place.

Applying temporary tattoos on clothing

Temporary tattoos on a white button-down 

Moving on to the white button-down, I really wanted a floral patterned shirt. I thought it would look really cool to have the tattoos cascading down one side.

For the shirt, I found it optimal to place all of the tattoos and paper towels at once.

If you get part of the shirt wet before you apply the tattoo, it can turn out badly, so figure out your placement first and then transfer the tattoos all at once. 

How to apply temporary tattoos to a shirt

The colors were super vibrant on the white background. The lighter the fabric you use, the brighter the colors are going to be, so keep that in mind.

How to apply temporary tattoos on a leather jacket

Metallic temporary tattoos on a leather jacket 

For the leather jacket, I realized the color designs won’t show up well the darker the fabric. So, I decided to use metallic tattoos instead. The metallic transfers beautifully on the leather material.

With the other tattooed items, you can just throw them in the wash but the beauty of leather is that you can just rub over the temporary tattoo with your finger and it’ll come off super easy! 

Here are the finished items:

Temporary tattoos on boots

Temporary tattoos on a white shirt
Temporary tattoos on a leather jacket

Temporary tattoos on shoes

Temporary tattoos on my daughter's dress

How to remove temporary tattoos from clothes

The best part about using temporary tattoos is that it’s just that: temporary. Throw it in the wash and it’s a blank slate again.

Over time, the designs can fade and look a little distressed, but that actually looks really nice too.

Can you put temporary tattoos on clothing?

Can you put temporary tattoos on clothing?

Using temporary tattoos is a cool way to snazz up your clothing without actually committing to the DIY! As you can see, this works for lots of different fabrics and clothing items.

If you liked this tutorial, let me know how you plan on using temporary tattoos to change up your wardrobe!

Suggested materials:
  • White shirt
  • Leather jacket
  • Shoes
See all materials

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