{Sandpaper Art T-Shirts} Seattle Area Childrens Photographer

Father’s Day is coming up soon here in the States, and my boys really wanted to create something to give their dad. I found this tutorial for transferring a crayon drawing on sandpaper onto a plain white T-shirt, and the instructions looked really, really simple. We first tried it out with some shirts for the boys, and the results were great! Not only was it incredibly easy to do, it took very little supervision from me, and the final result was ¬†beautiful. Now the boys are super excited to design one for dad for Father’s Day! PLEASE NOTE: since you will be transferring the picture upside down from your sandpaper, the image on the T-shirt will be a mirror image of what your child drew. So, I would stay away from any words (which will get transferred on backwards), and stick to simple images.

What You’ll Need

  • sandpaper (I used both coarse 60 grit, and a finer 220 grit. coarser will get you more texture, finer will let you get more details in your drawing)
  • crayons
  • white t shirts
  • iron
  • paper towel or regular towel
  • ***IMPORTANT*** since the drawing will be placed backwards to be ironed onto the t shirt, whatever you draw will be mirrored on the t shirt. So it is best NOT to draw any words.


This is all you’ll need for this craft (minus the iron). The two different sandpaper is a bonus – you can get away with one type!



 First, draw your picture onto the sandpaper. I let my youngest use the coarser grit sandpaper.



My oldest wanted more details in his drawing, so I let him have the finer grit sandpaper.



My youngest and his finished sandpaper drawing. He wanted to fill up his whole piece of sandpaper.



He didn’t really believe me that it would print onto the t shirt.



Second, place your sandpaper upside down on your t shirt, and iron on the COTTON setting (with no steam). I also placed a paper towel in between the t shirt to make sure there was no bleed through. I ironed for about 2 minutes, the coarser sandpaper took longer than the finer grit one. Just keep lifting up to check to make sure the crayon has melted onto the shirt.



Voila! That is it, two easy steps! That is how you make a sandpaper art t shirt. To “set” your design, take a paper towel (or a cotton towel), and iron for about 20 seconds on top of your crayon design.



A close up of my older son’s design. I love the surf boards.



Happy, happy kids! They loved that they were able to make their own shirts, and tell people they designed it themselves. Next, we are working on a design for dad’s shirt for Father’s Day (SHHHHHH don’t tell him). Happy Crafting!



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28 Responses to “{Sandpaper Art T-Shirts} Seattle Area Childrens Photographer”

  1. Karen says:

    I just made these with a 6-year-old friend and they turned out great! We both used 80 grit for our pictures and 220 for the words, which we wrote backwards to make them come out right. We will be doing a BUNCH at camp next month. Thanks so much for the great idea!

  2. Karen says:

    We did these at camp this year. The kids were ages 8 to 17 and they loved it. I did too. After they did theirs, I colored over their pictures and transferred them to my shirt, so I have all their pictures as well as my own. Then I asked each to sign by their picture. Thanks so much for this idea!

  3. kiela says:

    Does the image remain after washing? Great idea!!

  4. Alex says:

    @Kiela – yes, the image remains after washing! It’s been a couple of years, and the color has faded a little bit. But the heat/ironing sets the color quite nicely.

  5. Charles says:

    Do the colors leak onto other clothes in the laundry? Any tips on washing the shirts? I’d like to do this with a group in Japan but we have to be ultra careful and give them specific details about how to clean them. If it damages other clothes or causes any problems, we could be in big trouble with parents.

  6. Charles says:

    Follow up on previous comment;
    I tried this and it was terrible. Sure the design was cool and it looked pretty nice but the crayon rubbed off and smeared. I followed the directions to the t. Don’t do this unless you are not planning to ever wear it or wash it because u will get crayon on u and the rest of ur clothes.

  7. Alex says:

    Hi Charles! My apologies for not answering sooner, we were in Korea and just got back. I’ve done this many times, and never had a problem with the crayon rubbing off. I think that you did not set the iron to the correct setting, or maybe did not melt all the crayon into the cotton. Since you are international, did you test to first to make sure 1) there was no steam setting (it cannot have any water, it will not set the crayon) and 2) all the crayon must melt into the cotton fabric. if you use a non-cotton fabric, it will not work (i.e., a synthetic fabric).

  8. Lisa Nordstrom says:

    Would this work on a tote bag?