It’s Fall! That means Halloween is coming soon. I think Halloween is my favorite holiday after Christmas. I’ve always loved the costumes and decorations for Halloween. It’s such a fun holiday for kids and adults. I loved taking my kids trick or treating; these days I go with them to take the grandkids! And when we’re not trick or treating I enjoy handing out candy from my witch’s caldron I keep on a table at the top of my driveway. Of course we deck out the driveway with ghoulish props; we even set up a fog machine that spews fog all the way up the long driveway. The neighborhood kids love it!
But in our family Halloween isn’t just celebrated on the last day of October. We celebrate it all month long! We start decorating at the end of September, play the neighborhood game “You’ve Been Booed”, make Halloween related crafts, go to a haunted house or two, throw a Halloween Party, and dress the kids in Halloween T-Shirts in the week leading up to Halloween. Yes, it’s a month long celebration of spooky fun things!
This year I re-discovered the ease of iron-on transfers for DIY T-Shirts. It was perfect timing. Now that I’ve made Birthday Shirts for Jett and the twins, they have September birthdays, it’s time to turn my attention to Halloween. Since iron-on transfers are my current obsession why not combine it with my Halloween crafts. So I’ve been busy designing and ironing on all sorts of ghouls, monsters, and Halloween stuff to just about everything I can think of.
One of my favorite projects are these Halloween T-Shirts. They’re fun, easy, and very inexpensive to make. Sure beats paying top dollar for Halloween T-Shirts the kids will only wear for a day or two. In fact they’re cheap enough to make several Halloween T-Shirts for each kid, so he or she will have one to wear everyday leading up to October 31.
(This post has affiliate links to help you find the products I used. Should you choose to make a purchase from the links, we get a small commission. It helps keep this site going! Thanks!)
I’d considered making appliques tees, but decided against it. I didn’t want to invest too much time making shirts that they’d only wear for a day or so; they’re sure to have outgrown them by the time Halloween rolls around next year. That’s why iron-on transfer are perfect for this project!
You iron on anything you want on the t-shirts. I made the Halloween Hello Kitty, and the witches’ feet for Harper, and the monster and jack-o-lantern for her twin brother, Sadi, and cousin Jett.
I even added their names to make their Halloween T-Shirts extra special. That’s what I love most about DIY T-Shirts, you can personalize them for free! The letters fit on the same transfer sheet as the image, no waste!
Here’s what you’ll need to make Halloween T-Shirts for the children in your life. They’ll love them!
T-shirt – They don’t have to be the best quality, remember they’ll only be used a few times. I found the colored shirts on clearance at Walmart this summer. They cost $2 each. The white ones are actually Hanes undershirts, you can pick up a pack of 5 for less than $10 depending on the size. In a pinch you can use any unprinted shirts you have at home.
Iron On Transfer Paper – There are several brands to choose from. I use Avery Iron On Transfers; they’re available for dark and light colored material. When choosing which transfer paper to buy consider the color of the t-shirt. For white and very light colors use the transfer sheets for light colored material; for dark colors use the dark colored transfer sheets. Read my article on how to use iron on transfers for more details. For my projects I used both types of transfer sheets.
Computer – You can design your Halloween T-Shirt on the online software of the company who makes the transfer sheets or you can upload images from from phone or online photo sharing sites. Be respectful of copyrights, not all images on the internet are free. You can find many images from sites like stockphoto.com, some are free others are not. If you’re looking for some cool fonts check out dafont.com, they have lots of free fonts you can download and install on to your computer.
Printer – Once you’ve designed your shirt you’ll have to print it on the transfer paper. Read my how to article for printing tips.
Scissors or craft knife
Iron – be sure it’s not on the steam setting
Hard Surface – NOT and ironing board. I iron on my counter which I cover with a fabric remnant used only for this purpose.
Parchment Paper – most transfer paper comes with sheets of parchment paper for ironing on the transfer. If yours doesn’t the parchment paper you have in the kitchen works just as well.
Wash and dry t-shirt before you begin. DO NOT use fabric softener.
Iron wrinkles out of the shirt and let cool completely before placing transfers on them.
Design and print your transfer
Cut out images and letters they way you want to. I used my Cricut Explore Air to design and cut my transfers, but if you don’t have an electric die cut machine you can use scissors or a craft knife to cut and trim your transfers.
If you’re using dark color transfer sheets peel off the paper backing.
If you’re using light color transfer sheets DO NOT peel off paper backing.
Position transfer on the cooled t-shirt.
For this shirt I used dark color transfer sheets so I peeled off the paper backing before I positioned it on the shirt.
It’s important the shirt is cool, otherwise the transfer will start to stick on and you won’t be able to re-position it without making a big mess!
I positioned the image and the letters on the shirt before I started ironing.
When I had everything placed the way I wanted I carefully placed a sheet of parchment paper on the entire transfer. Be careful when you place the parchment paper on, make sure the edges of the transfer are flat on the t-shirt. Otherwise the transfer will be wrinkled or its edges curled up after ironing.
Once you’ve done all that follow the manufacturer’s instructions; iron setting/temperature and time you need to press the iron on the transfer.
Be sure the iron is heated to the required temperature before you begin.
Starting on one end of the transfer press the iron firmly down on the shirt for the required time. Do not more the iron around. Apply as much pressure on the iron as you can to be sure that the heat goes thru the transfer.
Repeat this process until you’ve ironed the entire transfer.
Let the shirt cool completely before carefully peeling off the parchment paper (dark color transfers) or the paper backing (light color transfers).
If the transfer edges lift off the shirt replace the parchment paper or the paper backing and iron again. NEVER place iron directly on the transfer. You’ll end up with a shriveled up mess. Trust me on this!
When you’ve peeled off the parchment paper or backing you’re Halloween T-Shirt is ready to wear!
Have fun creating Halloween T-Shirts for your friends and family this year! They make awesome favors for your Halloween party!
I’d love to see the designs you come up with. Please share them with us!
T-shirt fads are always changing. There’s always a new character that becomes popular because of new video game, TV show, or movie. Recently Star Wars themed shirts, Captain America Civil War shirts, and the new Disney Princess shirts are all the rage with many kids, and even some adults. There’s always a fad, it’s hard to keep up with trends! Not to mention keeping up with them can get expensive.
A licensed T-shirt can cost as much as $20 or more! They can leave a big hole in your wallet, specially if you have multiple kids. Well you don’t have to spend big bucks keeping your kids in trendy t-shirts. All you need is an iron, a printer, a package of iron on transfers, and of course a t-shirt.
You can DIY Character T-Shirts for less than $5 and about a half hour of your time. Really, you can! And I’ll tell you how!
I discovered iron on transfers years ago, but put it aside for years. Mostly due to the high cost of printer ink. Well ink can still be expensive, but I subscribed to HP Instant Ink for my new HP Printer. It’s made the cost and convenience of buying ink cartridges easy and inexpensive.
I have the $9.99 monthly plan, there are several plans to choose from depending on your usage. This plan lets me print up to 300 pages a month, unused pages roll over to the next month. It’s easy, all you have to do is buy a qualifying printer, you can check the list of printers here, connect to the internet, and enroll online! That’s it! HP Instant Ink will know when you need ink and will send you the correct cartridges in the mail before you run out. Of course you need an email address and credit card to enroll, the monthly fee is automatically deducted from your account. And you can cancel at anytime. I love it! A year’s worth of ink now costs me $120, that beats the $80 I used to spend for just 2 cartridges from Office Depot. But I digress, I was talking about character t-shirts.
Anyway this ink plan makes printing iron on transfers that much more appealing and cheaper. So this is what you need to know about iron on transfers and how to make your own character t-shirts.
First of all there are 2 types of iron on transfers, one for dark colored material, and the other for light colored material. The light color transfer paper usually has 6 sheets per pack and costs less than dark color transfer paper which costs a couple of dollars more and only comes with 5 sheets in a pack.
You can buy transfer paper from Walmart, craft stores, and online from Amazon or other online retailers. On Amazon the light transfer paper costs $6.99 and the dark paper $8.99. So before you buy transfer paper decide what color your shirt will be.
You can use any color shirt you want of course. I buy them when I find them on clearance from Walmart. When I hit the summer clearance last month kid’s t-shirts cost me $2 each. They were available in many colors. Right now they have long sleeved kid’s shirts for just under $4. I also use white undershirts, that’s probably the easiest and cheapest route. You can pick up a package of 5 white undershirts for less than $8 from any of the discount stores, if you’re in luck you’ll find them on clearance!
Ok you got your shirt and transfer paper, what next? You need something to print on the shirt. You can find the image you want online, but be mindful of copyrights. You can buy stock images from sites like Shutter Stock, many of these sites offer free images, just depends on the image. Or you can scan a photo or other image on to your computer. Pop the scanned image on a photo editor like photoshop or one of the free online ones like picmonkey.com and edit the image to what you want it to look like.
Once you have the image on your computer just print it out on the transfer paper. Be sure to load the transfer paper correctly so it prints on the transfer and not the paper backing.
Most transfer paper is supported by an online app for that brand, like Avery.com or Jolee’s EasyImage. This is an online designer that lets you design your iron on transfer. It’s free to use!
However you choose to design your t-shirt when you’re done you just print it out. But before you click print remember this!
For Dark Color Transfer Paper DO NOT invert the image. Print it EXACTLY the way you see it on your screen.
For Light Color Transfer Paper you MUST invert the image. Before you click print check MIRROR IMAGE.
What’s the difference? On Dark Color Transfer Paper the image is printed on the front side of the paper. Light Color Transfer Paper prints the images on the back side of the paper so it will read right to left when you iron it on unless you invert or MIRROR your image BEFORE printing.
Now that you’ve printed your image correctly you must trim the image. I use my Cricut Explore Air to do my cutting, but really a pair of scissors will work as long as your image isn’t too intricate. When you’re done it’s time to iron!
Wash and dry the t-shirt you are going to iron on. Do not use fabric softener. Now here are the next steps:
- Prepare a hard surface to iron on. Don’t use your ironing board. I use my kitchen counter. I place a piece of wood on the counter and cover it with a piece of cotton cloth that I have just for this purpose.
- Heat the iron to the setting recommended by the transfer paper, usually “cotton”.
- Iron wrinkles out of the t-shirt. Let shirt cool before moving on to the next step. To cool shirt quicker remove from the ironing surface.
- For Dark Color Transfer Paper – Remove paper backing, position transfer printed side up on the shirt, cover transfer with a sheet of parchment paper (it usually is included with the transfer paper). Iron on following the instructions given with the transfer paper. Let cool. Slowly peel off parchment paper. If edges of the transfer lift off, place parchment paper back on and iron again.
- For Light Color Transfer Paper – DO NOT remove paper backing, position transfer printed side down on the shirt (the paper backing should be facing you). Iron on following instructions given with the transfer paper. Let cool. Slowly peel off the paper backing. If edges of the transfer lift off, replace paper backing and iron again.
Light Color Transfer
That’s it! Your shirt is done! It’s ready to wear!
Dark Color Transfer
Here are a couple of tips to help you out, I learned this the hard way, so I hope you avoid my mistakes!
Remember MIRROR IMAGE before printing on Light Color Transfer Paper
Load transfer paper in to printer ONE AT A TIME
Load transfer paper in to printer correctly so that image is printed on the transfer paper not the backing
Remove backing from Dark Color Transfer Paper before ironing on
DO NOT remove backing from Light Color Transfer Paper before ironing on
Make sure the shirt you are using is wrinkle free
Cool shirts before placing transfers on them
Cool shirts before peeling off parchment paper or backing
Press iron firmly on the shirt while ironing on
DO NOT move iron around while ironing on – if image is large, begin in one section, pressing firmly, LIFT iron off shirt before moving to the next section. On large images overlap iron placement a bit to be sure you iron on entire image.
NEVER iron directly on to the transfer – for dark colors ALWAYS place parchment paper on the image before ironing. For light colors you will iron on the transfer backing, if you need to re-iron the transfer after you peeled off the backing place a parchment paper over it first.
So there you go, easy right? Now you can personalize your kids’ shirts anyway you want. You can add their favorite cartoon characters, their name, or what ever they want. I made the Spiderman shirt for Jett, he’s going thru his superhero phase, and Spidey is his fave. The Minecraft shirt is for Devon, he’s really into the game. And the Hello Kitty is just too cute for my little princess, Harper.
You can use transfers to make birthday shirts too. They make every birthday special. And don’t forget the upcoming holidays. I’m working on Halloween t-shirts for the grandkids now!
It’s baby’s 1st. Birthday! (Or any age for that matter). Birthday T-Shirts make the day extra special and memorable!
I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of birthday t-shirts on Etsy and Pinterest. You’ve probably considered buying one for your little one’s birthday. I know my daughters and daughter-in-law do.
My grandchildren have a collection of Birthday T-Shirts, one for every year. They really do make the day extra special! My daughter actually frames the birthday t-shirt, party invitation, and other memorabilia from that day in a shadow box which she hangs in her family room. I think it’s a great way to mark the children’s milestones.
We usually get birthday shirts that are coordinated with the party theme. Like these Bowling T-Shirts for Devon’s party at the bowling alley. Here we used them as party favors too! The kids loved them!
Now you make think that a personalized birthday t-shirt will cost you a pretty penny, and it can. We’ve paid $25 or more for a white t-shirt that’s appliqued with the child’s name and age.
But it doesn’t have to cost much. It’s easy to make your own, and you don’t even need to know how to sew or embroider!
Yes, you can take pretty much any t-shirt and turn it into a birthday t-shirt for $5 or less! All it takes is a bit of your time and a trip to the craft store, or Walmart.
Here are a couple of Birthday T-shirts, and a Birthday dress I made for Jett who’s turning 3, and the twins who are turning 2.
(This post has affiliate links, so if you purchase something from the link we get a little commission to help us keep this site going for you!)
This is a shirt I purchased from Walmart. It was one of the pack of Hanes undershirts. The pack comes with 5 shirts for $7.97. That’s less than $2 a shirt.
I cut out the Mickey Mouse ears, sheriff’s hat, letters, and number from fabric scraps on my Cricut Explore Air. But if you don’t have a die cutting machine you can cut them out by hand.
I stabilized the fabric with Heat n’ Bond iron on adhesive. This is a double sided fusible webbing you iron on to the applique and to the shirt.
If you use Heat n’ Bond you don’t have to stitch on the appliques. In this case I stitched on everything but the number, so it took me a little more time. If you don’t stitch it on it’s ok, but the edges will fray with multiple washings.
If you’re handy with the sewing machine you can embroider the letters and number too. So this shirt cost me a grand total of about $2, but that’s because I had all the supplies. Buying supplies will cost a bit more, but you’ll end up with extra to use for other occasions, like Halloween and Christmas!
For the twins I made this dress and t-shirt.
I actually made them a couple of months ago, but they were too big. When my daughter-in-law decided that we’d all be going to Aulani Disney Resort’s character buffet for their birthday she asked me to add the number 2 on them.
Again I found the shirts at Walmart. They were on clearance for $2 each. Like Jett’s shirt I stitched on the letters and mouse ears and ironed on the number with Heat n’ Bond.
The tank top became a dress when I added the ruffle. I used a fat quarter for the ruffle, that cost me $1.11. So these Birthday outfits ended up costing just a bit over $5 for both!
To learn how to make this dress click here!
Now if you don’t want to use fabric you can make your birthday t-shirts with iron on transfer paper! That’s super easy! All you need are transfer paper, scissors, a printer, and an iron. No sewing involved! I’ll show you some of the shirts I made using transfer paper next week!