Best simple way to affix light dots to a black t-shirt?
January 15, 2013 2:47 PM   Subscribe

My son's school has a "100th day of school" t-shirt project coming up, requiring 100 of something to be on the shirt. He's a kindergartener with fine-motor issues who suggests a Pac-Man theme. I'd like him to decorate the shirt himself or at least part of it. So, how should he get 100 colored dots in various pastel colors on a black or navy t-shirt? Ideally the dot-making wouldn't require a lot of grip strength or precision. (We adults will help with the Pac-Man, ghosts, and maze lines as needed.) Bonus points for washability, but that's not essential.
posted by homelystar to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could do a potato stamp with t-shirt ink/paint. To make it look similar, you could do Pac Man/ghosts/fruits in potato stamp too.
posted by dottiechang at 2:52 PM on January 15, 2013

What about using white poster paint mixed with other colours to create the pastel colours. Then maybe a piece of wooden dowel with a round piece of sponge on the bottom that he can dip into paint. If you need a decent grip you could wrap fabric or something else round the stick to make it easier for him to hold.
posted by Ranting Prophet of DOOM! at 2:53 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

You need Puff paint. You just squeeze out a dot on the fabric and it'll make a puffy dot.
posted by artychoke at 2:57 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]

Puff fabric paint would seem to be the ideal thing. Lots of day-glo colours, and it generally comes in squeezy bottles. If you could find some way to punch a load of holes in a sheet of card to tape onto the t-shirt as a template, that would make it a lot easier to get a fancy-looking end result with relatively modest skills.
posted by pipeski at 2:58 PM on January 15, 2013

Not necessarily now, but consider making him a mahl stick or bridge.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:58 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, puff paint!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:02 PM on January 15, 2013

You can find round stickers in bright yellow in a lot of stores; they're just a little smaller than a nickel. A black marker, and there you go. With the shirt being just a one day thing, that's what I'd do - the adults draw the dots to make the "board" and the ghosts, and he puts on 100 pacman stickers. You could even have fun in the evening counting to see how many pacmen made it through the day, taking them off - and then a grownup could paint on a couple of permanent pacmen.
posted by lemniskate at 3:03 PM on January 15, 2013

Puff paint is good, but can be hard to squeeze. If he could avoid touching the spots after, bleach pen might work well for making dots on a dark shirt. A lot of people on Etsy make T-shirt designs that way (just make sure you have cardboard inside the shirt; you can find tutorials).
posted by limeonaire at 3:16 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

How about those markers people use for bingo? He'll just need to press down, and bingo! (pun intended) a circle appears!
posted by cooker girl at 3:19 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

I think a stamp of some sort is your best bet. I remember being frustrated as a young child about the grip strength needed to get the puffy paint out of the bottle.

Or maybe buy a piece of poka dotted fabric and color in the white poka dots with the appropriate colors. Affix fabric to the tee shirt.
posted by oceano at 3:21 PM on January 15, 2013

someone here used chalkboard markers on some tights, with the bonus that it comes off when you wash the tights so you still have them. so that might work with a black tshirt.
posted by koroshiya at 3:39 PM on January 15, 2013

Yeah, I couldn't find any, but some kind of pastel, opaque fabric paint marker with a spongy tip would be great for this. You might go to Michael's or a similar craft store to see what they have.
posted by limeonaire at 3:47 PM on January 15, 2013

How about using a white shirt instead and the bingo markers suggested above? Dot art is a big thing with the kids these days so just about every craft store will have some.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 3:58 PM on January 15, 2013

Thick paper. (Cardstock). Cut into a good ish size. Give him a hole punch to punch holes in Cardstock.

Give him a marker (if dark, then SILVER sharpie) & use the holey card stock to paint the dots on.

Might want to draw the maze first. Make the card stock template just a little narrower than the maze lines. Makes it easier to line up himself.

Also, dark marker to cover up mistakes.


Elmer's Glue in tube (or parent spray glue).

Draw maze. Count out 100 light buttons or big sequins. He can lay them out in the lines of the maze.
posted by tilde at 6:35 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ooo. Do that last one with fabric glue and it'd be permanent.
posted by limeonaire at 8:05 PM on January 15, 2013

How about using a pencil eraser as a stamp with fabric paint? Then he just has to grip the pencil and the dots won't be ginormous.
posted by wallaby at 3:01 AM on January 16, 2013

Response by poster: Good ideas all--thanks! We'll probably make the shirt this weekend and I'll report the results.
posted by homelystar at 7:16 AM on January 16, 2013

If you have issues with the puff paint bottle and his grip strength, try trimming the tip back to get a wider opening.
posted by aimedwander at 9:17 AM on January 16, 2013

In addition to standard puff paint, craft stores now have fabric markers, fabric glue and fabric spray paint (!). Really, the possibilities are endless!
posted by celtalitha at 6:06 PM on January 16, 2013

fabric spray paint

Ah, yes!

do it with cardstock (yes, again).

YOU cut out dashed lines in the shape of a maze pattern. You place and weight the pattern template on the shirt.

Spray that (he sprays) over onto the shirt.

You now have a shirt with a maze on it (the dashed lines are to keep the basic form of the maze without big holes.

Now, take a second cardstock board. Place the maze on top of that (clip it hard or staple it). Color in the holes to create the maze on the second cardstock page.

Take apart the two pages, he now has the maze "painted" on his dot template.

Now he takes a pencil or a screwdriver or something and punches holes through the maze paths to get 100 holes.

You the grownup finishes the holes cleanly (there's some raggedy edges). You the grownup position the holes over the maze on the shirt and get it ready for him to spray the second layer of dots.

Alternatively, use one template. First maze cut and spray, then punch and clean dot holes, then mask off maze holes and paint.

Well, if you're doing pac man

this also works for a shirt with a drawn on polka dot tie, etc.
posted by tilde at 12:04 PM on January 17, 2013

« Older Boyfriend? What's a boyfriend?   |   Early earning ideas for an 11-year old? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.