customizing: painted knit fabric

We’ve been playing around with a lot of different ways to paint on knit fabric lately. With the School Bus/Metro T-shirts and the Field Trip Raglan T-shirt patterns, it’s so much fun to work with knits that I just couldn’t resist decorating the fabrics themselves to see what could be done. And there’s something about hand-printed or painted fabrics that really appeals to me, especially because I prefer really simple designs that can be difficult to find. So when S fell in love with her pale gray T-shirt made with Kaufman Laguna jersey, I thought it might be fun to decorate it a little bit. Light-skinned blond girls can sometimes use a little more color in their lives beyond pale gray, you know? We stopped by the art store and purchased this Jacquard Textile Color, and we used a craft knife to cut a star shape from an eraser to make a stamp. It was really fun for S to stamp the T-shirt because she could decide where she wanted each star to be positioned.



I’m sorry I don’t have a photo of her wearing it. Her wearing schedule and my camera just haven’t coordinated yet. I’ll try to post a photo to Instagram one of these days.

Meanwhile, I was remembering this T-shirt that Disney of Ruffles and Such decorated for her daughter, inspired by Oliver Jeffers’ Heart in the Bottle book and sewn for Katy’s Once Upon a Thread series. I bought transparent fabric paint and went to town on old T-shirt of mine, just to see what would happen. Verdict: if you want to paint stripes, it’s much easier to do before you sew the fabric. The sleeves were particularly challenging to paint evenly. Still, I love the watercolor effect and will be playing around with this technique more in the future.



I diluted the paint with water before starting, and I used a ruler to help me keep the lines as straight and even as possible while I was painting.

If you try this, be sure to put a piece of plastic or cardboard behind your fabric to prevent the color from bleeding through to the other side of the T-shirt or onto your work surface. Otherwise there’s not much to it!



Have you tried painting or stamping on knits? Please tell us about your experience!


  1. May 3, 2014 at 1:00 am Link

    Do I ever love to paint on T-shirts!
    Like the watercolour effect here and must remember to try this one day.
    Mostly I make stencils, like this:

  2. April 30, 2014 at 3:06 pm Link

    I love using a stencil and silkscreen to print onto jersey already, so this seems like it would be a natural extension of that. I have the Pebeo paint already (thanks, Lotta Jansdottir!) so I’ll have to try this out, love the look of the watercolor.

  3. April 30, 2014 at 1:53 pm Link

    Love this idea!! such a great way to make it your own. :)

  4. April 30, 2014 at 1:49 pm Link

    I looove painting on fabric and I looove those pebeo setacolor transparent paints! I’ve used it on both knits and wovens. Did you saw the Panda raglan that I made recently from your raglan shirt pattern? 😛

  5. April 29, 2014 at 11:05 am Link

    Haven’t tried it on knits, but I might now! I have some dark brown jersey and some white screen printing ink that would make something fun! I just have to try it when the kids are sleeping so they don’t get ink everywhere :)

  6. April 29, 2014 at 11:04 am Link

    The only time I paint on knit is when working with my daughter at Christmas to make a reindeer shirt from her foot and hands (although, at 5 she might soon be getting “too old” for this). I should try it more often, as I always enjoy doing it with her.

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