Create a Keepsake T-shirt Canvas

Create a Keepsake T-shirt Canvas main article image
Posted on April 3, 2021 by Wendy Boulay
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The age-old saying “they grow too fast” stands true with every family. It seems like in the blink of an eye, children have outgrown all of their clothes and you are forever buying new ones – sometimes saddened by the idea. Now you can save their favorite shirts (or your favorites) and turn them into some mementos that you can save for them when they are older. Pick from two easy versions of this project – or even better, you can make both!

Supplies Needed

Version 1

  • Canvas (large enough for your t-shirt design)
  • Old t-shirts 
  • Staple gun
  • Scissors or craft knife
  • Mod Podge (optional: fabric or regular)

Version 2

  • Canvas (large enough for your t-shirt design)
  • Old t-shirt/s
  • Scissors 
  • Acrylic paints and brushes
  • Mod Podge (fabric or regular)
  • Glitter or other embellishments (optional)

T-shirt Canvas Art – Version 1 – Jumping Right In!

Version one is all about simplicity! This particular version comes in handy when you have a lot of old t-shirts and you want to create a display of multi-canvas wall art or to just make a quick and easy keepsake.

First, you will want to make sure that you have the correct size canvas for your design. There is nothing worse than getting ready to create your art when only to discover that you have the incorrect supplies! You will want to ensure that you have at least 3 inches overlap of fabric.]

To begin making your canvas, start cutting the t-shirt along all of the seams with your scissors so that you end up with half of a shirt. Next, position the shirt in the manner that you want it displayed on the canvas. Then, holding both the canvas and shirt, very carefully flip it over so that you maintain its positioning. Immediately staple the section that you areholding to the back of the canvas. This will ensure that the movement of the design is limited. I usually staple one in the center and then one at each end. Repeat the stapling at the bottom, slightly pulling the fabric so it is just taut. Don’t pull too much because you will stretch out the design.

For the sides, you will want to begin with tucking in the corners – much like gift wrapping. Use your staple gun to secure the corner, then staple the center, and then the next corner. Repeat for the other side and all of the corners.

  • Alternative Method: Before flipping and stapling, if you wish you can glue the fabric to the canvas by using your favorite decoupage methods. This will help secure the shirt even further – especially if you would like to apply a glossy finish once it has been stapled and trimmed.

Now that you have everything secured, go ahead and trim away all of the excessfabric along the edges. Grab your staple gun once more and secure the looser bits of the t-shirt that are between the staples that you have already punched in.

  • Recycling Tip: Save your discarded fabric pieces for another project later on!

At this point, you can flip it over and hang it up if you want to stop there. I, however, felt that it needed something a little extra!

Using your Mod Podge, brush it over all of the seams and against the canvas. This will help to prevent any fraying. Allow it to dry for a couple of hours.

Again, you can simply stop here as well if you are happy with the look, but you can continue on to give it a glossy finish. Once it’s dry on the back, apply fabric mod podge over the front and sides. This is much harder to do, however, if you have not glued the t-shirt with to the canvas first though, as applying mod podge on the dry fabric may cause it to stretch slightly as you brush it on. Of course, this is absolutely optional. Make it to your liking!

Voila! Version one is done! 

T-shirt Canvas Art – Version 2

I think this is my favorite version – especially if you have a t-shirt that was custom-made for you or your littles! I created this t-shirt design quite a long time ago for my daughter and while I could just make another one for her (which I probably will) she has a galaxy-themed bedroom and absolutely loves wolves, so it’s the perfect artsy accent for her room.

Start by cutting around the design, making a large border around it. This will make the next steps much easier to work with. Now, with your fabric scissors, cut along the design of the shirt – keeping close to the pattern. This requires a little patience and extra care so thatyou don’t accidentally trim the design. You could try using a very sharp crafting knife, but you may run into trouble with keeping the fabric tight enough for a close cut.

Once you make your way all around the design, set it aside while you prepare your canvas.

Painting

For this version of your t-shirt art, you will be creating a painted backdrop to help with highlighting a semi-3D design. Grab your paint palette and start painting the canvas using complementary colors to your design and room. Have some fun with blending and remember, if you feel like you’ve made a mistake, you can just paint over it!

Sticking with the galaxy theme, I chose to first create a dark blue color as a base and after allowing it to dry for an hour, I then added some purple and white highlights. I am not a painter by any means, so I just used a cross-brushstroke pattern, and to be honest, I quite like how it turned out!

Allow everything to dry completely.

Applying the Design

Now that your canvas is thoroughly dry, you will be applying your t-shirt cutout in a semi-decoupage fashion. First, apply a thin layer of mod podge (fabric or regular formula) across the sections where you want to adhere thedesign and your embellishments. I centered the wolf and then sprinkled some black and silver glitter around it. If you are using glitter, when you are finished, make sure to shake off the excess!

Finishing

After you have applied your design and the decorative glitter (or other items), set it aside while you wait for it to dry. Again, apply the mod podge; this time covering the entire canvas to give it aglossy finish.

Allow to dry for at least 24 hours before hanging it up on your wall – then stand back in awe at your completed artwork – and treasured memories!

Keep on Crafting!


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Create a Keepsake T-shirt Canvas
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