How to DIY an Awesome Pastel T-shirt

by Dariacreative
7 Materials
30 Minutes

Looking for a fun way to customize a t-shirt with your own art?

Follow along with this easy tutorial to make a custom painted, pastel t-shirt that emulates your style.

I will show you how to make a simple, children’s t-shirt as well as a more professional, adult style.

Tools and materials:

  • Pastel fabric crayons (fabric dye sticks)
  • Permanent gel pen 
  • White cotton t-shirt
  • Cardboard
  • Iron and board
  • Baking paper
  • Pencil
Pastel crayons

1. The playful children’s t-shirt

1. Choose and prepare your t-shirt

Read the instructions of the pastel fabric crayons carefully for washing and care tips as well as types of fabrics that work the best with these colors.

The instructions that came with mine say that the fabric you choose should not be synthetic. Also, it’s best to wash and dry the shirt first before drawing on it to remove the starch and fibers.

Insert a piece of cardboard inside the body of the t-shirt to make it easier for drawing and to protect that back side of the t-shirt.

Tip: Use a stained t-shirt to salvage it from the junk pile. Just draw right over the stain! 

Drawing design

2. Draw your design

Use the pastel crayons to sketch out your design. I learned the hard way that it’s best to iron your shirt first, for a flat, drawing surface. Lesson learned!

Drawing design

Blending with my finger was not successful, so make sure to use many small strokes when coloring in your design.

For best results, hold the fabric taut with one hand while you draw. 

Drawing design

Here is my basic design for this children’s t-shirt.

The playful children’s t-shirt

3. Iron

Lay your t-shirt on an iron-friendly surface.

Cover the design with baking paper, as well as inside the t-shirt to protect the back, just in case. 

Ironing t-shirt

Set your iron to maximum heat and press gently on top of the baking paper to affix the design to the t-shirt.

Avoid dragging the iron, so as not to smudge your design.

Ironing t-shirt

4. Touch up your t-shirt

If any parts of your design got smudged or look faded, try going over those parts again with the pastel crayons. Then, re-iron to set the new color as in the previous step.

Touching up t-shirt

2. The adult “sketchbook” t-shirt

1. Prepare your t-shirt

This time, I ironed the t-shirt before inserting the cardboard to make it as flat as possible for easy drawing.

Preparing the t-shirt

2. Sketch your design

This time around, for a more professional drawing, sketch your design with a pencil first. 

Sketching design

When you are happy with parts of your penciled sketch, go over them with a permanent gel pen. Mine came with the pastel kit.

Sketching design

3. Add color

After using the gel pen to outline your sketch, go in with your pastel crayons to add color throughout your drawing.

Adding color

My technique involves drawing many small strokes and as many colors as possible for this eye design t-shirt!

Adding color

The ironing made a huge difference in making it easier to draw.

I also want to point out that these pastel crayons are much easier for making smaller, exact designs than some fabric paints.

Adding color

I absolutely recommend these pastel crayons for beginners. Just be careful not to smudge your colors with your hands as you go.

Adding color

To ensure that the colors connect to the fibers of the fabric, make sure you apply enough pressure while drawing, but not too much that you break the crayons.

Adding color

You can incorporate any smudges from the colors by shading them into the background.

Also, use the black crayon to add contrast throughout your design.

Adding color

4. Iron

As with the children’s t-shirt, use baking paper and your iron to set the colors. On the highest temperature, press but don’t drag the iron.

Ironing t-shirt

The colors are simply gorgeous! 

Pastel t-shirt

I’m actually shocked, but these amazing colors actually survived the washing machine!

Here are the final results of the DIY pastel t-shirt:

Pastel t-shirt

Pastel t-shirt DIY

If you try out these pastel fabric crayons, show us your unique, custom painted t-shirt designs in the comments below.

For more custom painting content, check out my Custom Painting Tutorial: DIY an Awesome Galaxy Jacket.

Suggested materials:
  • Pastel fabric crayons (fabric dye sticks)
  • Permanent gel pen
  • White cotton t-shirt
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