Funny thing is, although the name of this craft is a mouthful, it really couldn’t be easier.

A while back I demonstrated one of my favorite t-shirt designing techniques using sandpaper and regular old crayons.  Here’s the whole trick: you draw on sandpaper with crayons, and then you iron the sandpaper onto a shirt.  Your image transfers, and it turns out looking super cool because the sandpaper gives it a kind of pebbly texture.  Believe it or not, regular crayons work great—although well-pigmented ones, like Crayolas, work best—and the shirts wash (in cold water) fine and keep their color well.

So, all you need for this craft is:

  • coarse grain sandpaper (I usually use 60 grit)
  • crayons
  • a t-shirt
  • an iron
  • a rag
  • a piece of cardboard

Give your little one a piece of sandpaper and some crayons, and let him or her get to it!  They can draw whatever they want.

A few tips to keep in mind:

  • Darker color crayons work better.  For the pumpkin, for example, I recommend Sunset Orange or Scarlet, instead of regular Orange or a lighter orange.
  • Stay away from text.  If you are thinking of doing text, make sure it’s done mirror image.  For an adult this is more easily accomplished than for a kid, so I usually just avoid text.
  • Do keep in mind, though, that your design will come out on your shirt as a mirror image, in case you have anything special in your drawing that needs a particular orientation.
  • Press relatively hard and go over your lines and shading.  You want to actually leave bits of the crayon on the sandpaper, which will in turn melt into the shirt.  Don’t be afraid to really work some crayon into the grain.
  • Brush off the blank spots.  You’ll inevitably end up with some stray pieces of crayon that have jumped to other parts of the sandpaper.  If you don’t brush them off, you’ll end up with some little dots all around the shirt.  Not a huge problem, but you might not want excess marks on your shirt.
  • Keep in mind that you may use up a half a crayon drawing on the sandpaper; you will almost certainly need to peel it, and you may even get halfway down.

When the design is finished, it’ll look like this:

If you’re lucky, you’ll have a sweet little face like this to boot.

To iron the design on, you’ll need to put a piece of cardboard in between the layers of shirt, so that your image doesn’t transfer all the way through.  Place the sandpaper crayon-side down on your t-shirt.  Then, put a rag over the sandpaper to iron—otherwise the grit can come through the back of the paper and scratch your iron, so you want something there protecting it.  Iron on high heat for about 30 seconds or so; you can check the image carefully by peeling up the sandpaper.  If it hasn’t transferred enough, simply replace it and iron some more.

When you’re done, peel the paper off and your t-shirt is ready!  You may want to wash it before wearing, since the texture of the sandpaper kind of embeds itself in the shirt until it’s washed.  (The 5 year old claimed it was “scratchy” until it got washed.)

He’s pensive, showing off his design.

Have you ever done crayon transfer t-shirts?  They’re super fun.  Try it out!

I’m linking up to some fun craft round ups!  Check out some fun stuff at Crazy Cute . Skip To My Lou and…

Somewhat Simple



Leave a Comment

  • October 13, 2011, 10:05 am Stacey

    Wow! That looks so cool (and easy!)
    thanks for sharing!

  • October 13, 2011, 10:51 am Bethany

    Hi –
    You had left a question on my blog but it didn’t have your email attached. I got the cherries fabric I used in my change purse at good old Joann’s.
    Bethany @ Sweet Bee Buzzings

  • October 14, 2011, 6:24 am Kathy

    This is soooo adorable, and it really does look like fun for the darling (if later pensive) child. The pebbly, distressed texture of the finished product also really seems to lend itself to Halloween designs — I could see a “vintage” label for a bottle of witch’s potion, an “antique” gravestone, etc., etc. Cool!

  • May 23, 2013, 1:47 pm Randi

    I have been wanting to do a craft like this for a while but I was always skeptical that it would work out good. How does it hold up when you wash it?

  • May 23, 2013, 2:24 pm Beth

    Randi, it really holds up well. We *still* have that t-shirt and its still kicking after many, many washings & nearly 2 years later!