{Homemade Art Projects with Sara} Custom California Tees


    This is a series of posts by our contributor Amy, where she shares fun and easy art projects that she does with her 5-year-old daughter, Sara. All of the homemade art projects are designed for and/or by Sara and are meant to be low cost (always), worth keeping/gifting (sometimes), and a manageable mess (never).

    DIY Custom California T-shirtsWe made these t-shirts with Sara for her three cousins who were visiting from New Jersey. We wanted to make them something to remember their trip and time together, so we printed the state of California and added hearts for all the places we visited – San Francisco, Yosemite, Geyserville, and Point Reyes.

    Art: Custom California Tees (works with any state or the whole US)

    Occasion: The perfect travel souvenir

    Level of Difficulty: 4 (Low-Medium)

    Materials: Solid color t-shirts (we bought pink tees from Old Navy), blue fabric paint, white fabric paint pen, paintbrush, thick stock white paper, x-acto knife


    Step 1: Make your stencil.

    Can’t draw the state of California freehand? No problem. All you need is your computer and your tracing skills.

    1. Google: “State of California” and click on Images.
    2. Select an image of California.
    3. Download the image by right-clicking and select “Save Image As” (and save to your computer).
    4. Open the image on your computer (on a Mac, open in Preview).
    5. From the main menu, select Tools > Rotate Right (or Left).
    6. Rest your laptop on its side and trace your image onto your thick stock white paper.
    7. Use the x-acto knife to cut out the shape so you are left with the stencil.

    [easy-image-collage id=7524]

    Step 2.
    Paint your state.

    1. Place your stencil where you want the image to appear on your shirt.
    2. Tape the outer edges of the stencil to the shirt.
    3. Use the blue paint to paint the image inside the stencil.
    4. Remove the stencil.
    5. Let air dry (about 2 hours).

    DIY Custom California teesStep 3. Add your hearts.

    1. Using your white fabric pen, draw hearts for each place you visit on your trip.
    2. This part can work for places you visit or if you just want to have a heart for San Francisco or hearts for anywhere in the US (if you stencil the whole country).
    3. Let air dry (about 2 hours).

    DIY California T-shirt

    We made ours into pajamas, so every night after a full day of exploring we tucked our kids into bed with their memories.


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    Amy is a technologist by trade and a writer by nature. Wife to a dashing web designer, mother to a beautiful, thoughtful daughter, adorable, slightly less civilized son, and a Yorkshire Terrier who came first and is still waiting for the non- furry babies to leave. As a work-from-home mom, she believes work/life balance is not a concept but a daily (sometimes exhausting) goal. She is always in search of a community that fosters her belief that sameness is boring, money is only a means to see the world and there are no rules we should impose on one another in this life other than Be Kind. She loves her family, lives to travel, and firmly believes that a homemade meal, a handmade cocktail and an episode of the Bachelor (a day late because she doesn’t own a tv) can cure almost anything.


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