Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How to Decorate Kids' Jackets


Traveler's Denim Jacket
Cut pictures and fabric.
Cut pictures and fabric.

Make a traveler's denim jacket out of your favorite post cards. This technique takes a little extra time and patience, but the result is a professional-looking, completely personalized jacket decorated with images of the places you love.

What You'll Need:

  • Denim jacket (stonewashed is best)
  • 1/2 yard medium-weight white cotton or cotton blend fabric
  • Mirror-image color photocopies of about 6 postcards and the map of the state (one of our postcards had several small photos on it that we cut apart and used separately)
  • Dimensional glitter paint (we used glittering gold platinum)
  • Round faceted acrylic gemstones to cover buttons or snaps on jacket (ours were 15mm)
  • Assortment of faceted acrylic gemstones
  • Assortment of brass charms
  • Photo-transfer medium
  • Double-sided fusible webbing
  • Scissors
  • Waxed paper
  • 1-inch sponge brush
  • Rolling pin
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Pressing cloth
  • Disappearing-ink pen
  • Washable glue
  • Palette
  • Industrial strength adhesive
  • Toothpicks
  • Pliers

Step 1: Tentatively plan the placement of postcards and map on your jacket. Do this before you have your copies made so you know what you will need. After photocopying your postcards and map, trim white edges from postcard photocopies as shown. If you included a postcard with several photos on it that you want to use individually, cut them apart. Do not trim the photocopy of the state map. Cut white fabric into 4 or 5 rectangles about 9 × 12 inches as shown. These will be easier to work with than a single strip of fabric. Place each piece of white fabric on a sheet of waxed paper.

Step 2: Lay photocopies, including the map, face-up on separate sheets of waxed paper. Working on one copy at a time, apply a thick layer of transfer medium with your finger or a sponge brush. Be sure all edges and corners have been covered.

Apply transfer medium with a thick brush.
Apply transfer medium with a thick brush.

Step 3: Place each copy face-down on white fabric. Smooth with fingers and rolling pin, being sure to remove any air bubbles. If any transfer medium is pressed out of the sides, wipe it up immediately. Leave about an inch of fabric border around all copies. Dry flat for 24 hours. After 24 hours, remove fabric from waxed paper and heat-set both sides of transfers for 30 seconds using a pressing cloth and a dry iron on a wool setting. Let cool.

Press treated pictures into fabric with rolling pin.
Press treated pictures into fabric with rolling pin.

Step 4: Soak transfers in water for 30-60 minutes. Remove from water. Squeeze excess water from fabric as much as possible, but do not wring the transfer area. Lay fabric on a clean, flat surface. Using your fingers, gently rub off paper backing. Work from the center of the transfer to the outside edges. When you have removed the first layer of paper, return fabric to water to soak for another 15 minutes. Remove from water, repeating process until all paper particles have been removed. Be especially careful when rubbing edges so as not to tear the transfer. Let fabric dry flat. (Transfers may appear cloudy. They will become more defined when washable glue is applied later, but they will never be as clear as the original.)

Soak transfers and then let dry.
Soak transfers and then let dry.

Step 5: Cut a rectangle of fusible webbing slightly smaller than each piece of fabric. When all paper particles have been removed and fabric is dry, follow manufacturer's instructions and fuse webbing to back of all fabric pieces.

Cut webbing to the size of each picture.
Cut webbing to the size of each picture.

Step 6: Using a disappearing-ink pen, draw a line just outside the state's borders on the map. Cut on the line. Cut postcard from fabric pieces along edges of cards.

Cut the state map picture to size.
Cut the state map picture to size.

Step 7: Remove paper backing from adhesive on the back of transfers. On a hard surface -- not a padded ironing board cover -- arrange photo transfers of map and postcards as desired on jacket. Cover transfers with pieces of paper backing from iron-on adhesive, shiny-side-down to protect your iron and your transfer. Follow manufacturer's instructions for fusing. Iron on all transfers, front and back.

Fuse transfers onto jacket with a warm iron.
Fuse transfers onto jacket with a warm iron.

Step 8: Pour a puddle of washable glue onto palette and use sponge brush to apply a thin, even coat to transfers on front of jacket. If some of the transfer edges are popping up, spread a small amount of glue underneath. When front is dry, repeat for the transfers on the back.

Finish adhering pictures with washable glue.
Finish adhering pictures with washable glue.

Step 9: When glue is dry, outline cards and map with dimensional glitter paint. Be sure to keep the tip of bottle on the fabric. Do the front of jacket, then, when paint is dry, turn over and do the back.

Outline pictures with glitter paint.
Outline pictures with glitter paint.

Step 10: After paint dries, arrange acrylic gemstones in desired spots on the back of the jacket. We used a star on the state capital, a heart on our favorite city, and various sizes and colors of round stones on different cities throughout the state. We used 15mm round stones and plastic dogwood leaves to represent oranges, and we placed 15mm stones on the back buttons. Use pliers to remove holes from brass charms, if desired. Arrange charms on the back of your jacket.

Arrange gemstones and other items as desired.
Arrange gemstones and other items as desired.

Step 11: Lift up one gem or charm at a time and use a toothpick to apply industrial strength glue to backs. Work in a well ventilated area to avoid inhaling fumes from glue. Do not allow children around this type of glue. To glue round gems to metal buttons, use toothpick to spread a layer of glue on the back of gem and on the top of the metal button. Allow each to dry for about 10 minutes before pressing together.

Use a toothpick to apply glue to gemstone backs.
Use a toothpick to apply glue to gemstone backs.

Step 12: Turn jacket over and arrange gems and charms on the front. Glue charms and gems on jacket and buttons as directed in Step 11.

Tip: When selecting charms, consider the geography and character of the state you've chosen. Sailboats and seashells work well for an ocean-side state, but snowflakes would be good for the north, while cowboy boots may work well for a western state.

The finished jacket.
The finished jacket.

For more fun activities and kids crafts, check out:


More to Explore