How to Decorate Kids' Sweatshirts

Decorating sweatshirts can be a fun and simple kids activity. With these wearable craft ideas, you can decorate a sweatshirt to wear yourself or to give away as a present.

These kids activities include decorating sweatshirts with holiday-inspired ideas, bright rainbow themes or cloud-covered decorations. Find out more with these easy ideas.

Handy Holiday Sweatshirt

Hand prints serve as the base for this holiday-themed sweatshirt.

Rainbow Loops & Beads Sweatshirt

Add beads to a sweatshirt for personal flair.

Keys to My Heart Sweatshirt

Make a heart-inspired sweatshirt.

Planes 'n' Clouds Sweatshirt

Make a sweatshirt inspired by the clouds.

Check out the next page to find out how to make a holiday sweatshirt to wear or give as a gift.

For more fun activities and wearable crafts, check out:

Handy Holiday Sweatshirt

Decorate these shirts to give as gifts.
Decorate these shirts to give as gifts.

Light up the room with a moose sweatshirt or design a heavenly angel sweatshirt. These wearable craft sweatshirts are fun to make, and they preserve your child's hand- and footprints. The shirts will make great family presents for grandparents, godparents, or other special family friends!

How to Make the Handy Holiday Sweatshirt

What You'll Need:

Sponge brush

Fabric paint: brown, white, red, black

Red, green, or white sweatshirts

Small paintbrush

Fabric pen

To make the moose sweatshirt:

Use the sponge brush to paint the child's foot with brown paint. Have the child step on the center of the sweatshirt with their toes pointing toward the neckline of the shirt. This is the moose's face.

Once the paint is cleaned off the foot, paint their hands with the brown paint. Place the child's hands on either side of the top of the footprint, with fingers spread open and thumbs facing up; these are the antlers.

When the paint is dry, use the small paintbrush to paint details, such as eyes, eyebrows, and nose, on the moose's face. When the paint is completely dry, have the child use the fabric pen to write a message (Moosey Christmas Grandma) or sign their name on the shirt.

To make the angel sweatshirt:

Paint the child's foot white, and have him or her step on the front center of the shirt with toes pointing down toward the bottom of the shirt. Once the paint is cleaned off the foot, paint their hands with the white paint.

Place the child's hands (with fingers closed) on either side of the angel's body; these are the wings. When the paint is dry, use the small paintbrush to paint details, such as the face of the angel and the halo.

Let the paint dry completely, and then let the child use the fabric pen to write a message (With love from your little angel!) or sign their name.

Check out the next page to find out how to decorate sweatshirts with neon-colored pony beads.

For more fun activities and wearable crafts, check out:

Rainbow Loops & Beads Sweatshirt

Decorate sneakers and shirt to match.
Decorate sneakers and shirt to match.
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Neon-colored pony beads make a striking decoration for any wearable-art project. The shoes and sweatshirt that make up this combination can be worn separately or as a matching set. Find out how to make these wearable crafts below.

What You'll Need:

  • Shoes
  • 1 pair high-top gym shoes
  • 1 pair neon pink shoelaces
  • 12 × 10mm neon heart-shaped pony beads: 6 orange, 6 green, 6 yellow, 2 blue
  • 9 × 6mm neon barrel-shaped pony beads: 2 orange, 2 green, 2 yellow, 2 blue
  • 12mm opaque sunburst beads: 2 orange, 4 yellow, 6 baby blue, 4 pink
  • 6mm opaque round beads: 6 yellow, 6 baby blue, 4 pink, 2 orange
  • 6 snowman-face beads, 14mm each
  • 10 silver jump rings, 8mm each
  • 10 silver head pins, 1-1/2-inch each
  • Long-nose pliers
  • Round-nose pliers

How to Make the Rainbow Loops & Beads Sweatshirt:

How to Make the Rainbow Loops & Beads Sweatshirt:

Use wire cutters to trim the pin. Use wire cutters to trim the pin.
Use wire cutters to trim the pin.
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Step 1: String beads onto head pins by following the charts below for the correct order of the various bead configurations, then follow the diagram titled "Making a Head Pin Loop" to complete tops of bead configurations.

Use wire cutters to trim the pin if necessary, then use round-nose pliers to bend the end of the pin into a small loop, stringing on a jump ring (see above). Repeat for a total of 4 heart-bead configurations and 6 snowman-face configurations.

String beads onto shoelaces in the order shown. String beads onto shoelaces in the order shown.
String beads onto shoelaces in the order shown.
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Step 2: String 4 barrel beads, 2 heart-bead configurations, and 3 snowman-face configurations onto one of the shoelaces in the order shown in photo. Center these items on the shoelace and string lace ends from front to back through bottom eyelets of shoe.

String heart-shaped beads onto both laces. String heart-shaped beads onto both laces.
String heart-shaped beads onto both laces.
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Step 3: String a neon green heart-shaped pony bead (small end first) onto ends of both shoelaces held together (see above). Bring each lace up through the next eyelet on each side of the shoe. String a neon yellow heart-shaped pony bead onto ends of both shoelaces held together. Bring each lace down through the next eyelet on each side of the shoe.

String a neon orange heart-shaped pony bead onto both lace ends held together. Bring each lace end down through the next eyelet on each side of the shoe. String a neon blue heart-shaped pony bead onto both lace ends held together. Bring each lace end down through the next eyelet on each side of the shoe. String a neon green heart-shaped pony bead onto both lace ends held together. Bring each lace end down through the next eyelet on each side of the shoe.

Finally, string a neon yellow heart-shaped pony bead onto both lace ends held together. Bring each lace end up through the top eyelet on each side of the shoe. (Note: More or fewer eyelets on the shoe will require more or fewer heart-shaped pony beads.)

Knot the shoelace to hold bead in place. Knot the shoelace to hold bead in place.
Knot the shoelace to hold bead in place.
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Step 4: Tie a single knot about 3 inches from one end of the shoelace. String on a neon yellow heart-shaped pony bead. Tie another knot to hold the bead.

Repeat with the other end, using a neon green heart-shaped pony bead.

Repeat Steps 2-4 to make a second shoelace.

Sweatshirt Instructions

What You'll Need:

  • 1 white sweatshirt
  • 9 × 6mm barrel-shaped pony beads: 30 magenta, 58 neon yellow, 53 neon blue, 58 neon orange, 56 neon green
  • 53-inch neon shoelaces: 10 green, 10 pink, 1 yellow, 3 blue
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Fabric glue, or needle & and thread
  • Straight pins

Note: The shoelaces pictured are a round style, made of loosely woven poly-propylene. If similar laces are not available, you may use regular shoe-laces, sewing the loops with a heavy thread and large needle instead. Very tightly woven laces may not be suitable. The sweatshirt pictured is size 7-8. The number of shoelaces and beads used may be varied to suit the size of the sweatshirt.

Trim the lace at an angle. Trim the lace at an angle.
Trim the lace at an angle.
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Step 1: Trim the tip of the plastic end of a blue lace at a sharp angle, making a point. You will use this pointed lace as the "needle and thread."

Thread the blue lace through the green lace. Thread the blue lace through the green lace.
Thread the blue lace through the green lace.
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Step 2: Measure 3 inches from one end of a green lace. Thread the blue lace through the middle of the green lace.

String a bead on the green lace. String a bead on the green lace.
String a bead on the green lace.
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Step 3: Measure another 1/2 inch on the green lace and thread the blue lace through the middle of the green lace once again, as shown. String a magenta barrel bead onto the green lace.

Continue to thread the blue lace through the green, attaching beads at intervals. Continue to thread the blue lace through the green, attaching beads at intervals.
Continue to thread the blue lace through the green, attaching beads at intervals.
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Step 4: Measure 3 more inches on the green lace and thread the blue lace through it. Measure another 1/2 inch and thread the blue lace through the green lace once again. Repeat Steps 2-3 until 3 inches of the green shoelace are left (12 loops with beads). Alternate the colors of the beads, repeating the following order: magenta, yellow, blue, and orange. After the last 3-inch loop, measure and thread on 1 more 1/2-inch loop, with no bead.

Eight green laces will be necessary to surround the collar of the shirt. Eight green laces will be necessary to surround the collar of the shirt.
Eight green laces will be necessary to surround the collar of the shirt.
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Step 5: Repeat Steps 2-4 to add more green laces. A total of 8 green laces will make a row of loops around the yoke of a child's size 7-8 sweatshirt. Work the loops down along the blue lace as you complete each green lace.

Now thread the blue lace through a pink lace, adding beads at intervals. Now thread the blue lace through a pink lace, adding beads at intervals.
Now thread the blue lace through a pink lace, adding beads at intervals.
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Step 6: Repeat Steps 1-5 to make the row of pink loops, substituting the neon pink shoelaces for the green ones and using a second blue lace as the needle and thread. Alternate blue, orange, green, and yellow beads.

Attach the pink and green laces with glue. Attach the pink and green laces with glue.
Attach the pink and green laces with glue.
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Step 7: Pin the pink row of loops in an oval shape approximately 2-1/2 inches below the neck seam. Gather and adjust the loops to fit the oval shape of the yoke. Glue or sew the row of loops to the sweatshirt all the way around the front and back. The line of glue or sewing should be along the blue lace, allowing the longer loops to hang freely to form a fringe.

Trim the ends of the blue lace to 1/4 inch. Tuck them in and securely glue or sew them under so they don't show. Measure 3/4 inch up from the pink row of loops and attach the green row of loops in the same way. (The green loops will hang down to cover the top edge of the pink row of loops.)

Use the green lace as a needle and thread, making loops of pink lace. Use the green lace as a needle and thread, making loops of pink lace.
Use the green lace as a needle and thread, making loops of pink lace.
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Step 8: Using a green lace as the needle and thread, make 5 loops of pink lace with yellow, blue, orange, and green beads as shown. Loops should measure 1-3/4 inches. Push the loops together and tie the green lace used as the needle and thread in a single knot. Trim all 4 ends to 1/2 inch. Glue the ends to the middle of the flower.

Make a flower with the green lace. Make a flower with the green lace.
Make a flower with the green lace.
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Step 9: Make a smaller flower from a green lace but without beads. Loops should measure 1 inch. Glue or sew to the center of the flower with beads made in Step 8.

Glue the end of the knot to hold it. Glue the end of the knot to hold it.
Glue the end of the knot to hold it.
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Step 10: Cut a 4-inch length of pink lace. Tie a double knot. Trim both ends to 1/2 inch and glue or sew against the knot. Glue or sew the knot to the center of the Step 9 flower.

Glue the flowers to the sweatshirt. Glue the flowers to the sweatshirt.
Glue the flowers to the sweatshirt.
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Step 11: Repeat Steps 8-10 to make 4 more flowers in different colors. Glue flowers to front of sweatshirt. We used 2 flowers with the pink and green combination, and 1 each of the others.

Glue beads along the cuffs. Glue beads along the cuffs.
Glue beads along the cuffs.
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Step 12: Glue or sew 8 beads evenly spaced along the cuff of each sleeve, alternating colors in orange, magenta, yellow, and green.

Variation

Use your imagination to develop your own color combinations for Rainbow Loops & Beads. Try substituting pastel versions of the colors on the charts for a springtime look, or autumnal colors for the fall.

Check out the next page to find out how to decorate a sweatshirt with heart and key charms.

For more fun activities and jewelry crafts, check out:

Keys to My Heart Sweatshirt

Hearts and keys adorn this sweatshirt.
Hearts and keys adorn this sweatshirt.
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With the delicate look of these heart and key charms, this wearable craft project is sure to catch the fancy of your teenager. Making a Keys to My Heart sweatshirt -- what a great mother-daughter project!

What You'll Need:

  • Dark-colored t-shirt
  • Brass charms in key and heart shapes (other charms can be substituted)
  • Fabric paint in pink, teal, and purple
  • Fabric paint brushes (we used a flat shader)
  • Tracing paper
  • Pencil
  • 11×9" piece of tulle
  • Black marker
  • Shirt board
  • Masking tape
  • White fabric or dressmaker's pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Needle and thread to match shirt color

How to Make the Keys to My Heart Sweatshirt:

Trace the pattern onto tracing paper. Trace the pattern onto tracing paper.
Trace the pattern onto tracing paper.
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Step 1: Prepare shirt by washing and drying. Lay charms you have chosen onto a pattern to determine whether or not you need to adjust pattern. Charms should be placed in empty spaces between design elements. Trace pattern onto tracing paper, making changes if necessary. Tape tulle onto traced pattern and mark over lines with black marker.

Trace the pattern onto the sweatshirt. Trace the pattern onto the sweatshirt.
Trace the pattern onto the sweatshirt.
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Step 2: Put shirt on shirt board. Position tulle pattern on shirt in desired spot and tape in place. Trace over lines with fabric or dressmaker's pencil. Remove tulle.

Paint within the lines of the pattern on the sweatshirt. Paint within the lines of the pattern on the sweatshirt.
Paint within the lines of the pattern on the sweatshirt.
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Step 3: To paint, start at top of shirt and work your way down. Rows with rectangles are painted pink, rows with thin waves are teal, and rows with thick waves are purple. On a very dark-colored shirt, you may need to apply a second coat of paint.

Sew the charms into the sweatshirt. Sew the charms into the sweatshirt.
Sew the charms into the sweatshirt.
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Step 4: When shirt is completely dry, heat-set paint following manufacturer's instructions. Place charms in desired spots and sew.

Variation

Brass charms are available in a wide variety of styles and sizes. Try a nautical theme by using sailboat, anchor, and flag charms on a white shirt painted with red, blue, and yellow design elements. Or, try a western theme by using charms shaped like cacti, cowboy boots, and horses on a brown shirt painted in turquoise, coral, and cream.

Turn to the next page to find out how to decorate cloud-inspired sweatshirts.

For more fun activities and jewelry crafts, check out:

Planes 'n' Clouds Sweatshirt

Make this cloud-inspired shirt.
Make this cloud-inspired shirt.

Your little copilot can pretend to fly high in the sky in this charming sweatshirt, suitable for a boy or girl. With the advantages of fusible webbing, this wearable craft project is simple to make, even for beginners.

How to Make the Planes 'n' Clouds Sweatshirt

What You'll Need:

Sweatshirt

Scraps of fabric (we used a striped print, red cotton, white cotton, gold lame, and silver lame)

Fabric paints (we used dimensional paints in red, sparkle green, glitter gold, sparkle purple, and pearl white)

Double-sided fusible webbing

Pencil

Iron and ironing board

Scissors

2 pressing cloths

Shirt board

Step 1: Trace pattern pieces for 3 planes and 4 clouds onto paper side of fusible webbing, grouping together pieces to be cut from same color fabric. In the example above, the 3 plane bodies are grouped together because they will be cut from the striped material, the 3 noses and 6 wings are together because they will be cut from the gold lame, the 3 propellers will be cut from the red material, the 3 plane windows will be cut from the silver lame, and the 4 clouds will be cut from the white cotton.

(Note: If your trace plane pieces so they point to your left, they will point to your right on the finished sweatshirt. Do not trace the dotted lines from the patterns, because they are used just for reference when positioning wings, window, etc., on plane body.)

Step 2: Cut apart pieces in above groupings. In the example above, the 3 plane bodies have been cut apart as one piece of fusible webbing, the clouds have been cut apart as one piece, and so forth.

Step 3: Cut fabrics into pieces slightly larger than their corresponding webbing groups. Lay a pressing cloth over ironing board. Lay fabrics wrong side up on pressing cloth. With webbing side against wrong side of fabric, place fusible webbing groups over appropriate pieces of fabric (plane bodies piece over striped fabric, nose and wing pieces over gold lame, etc.). Be sure adhesive web does not extend beyond edges of fabric. Cover fusible webbing with second pressing cloth. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse plane pieces to back of fabrics.

Fuse webbing over cloth. Fuse webbing over cloth.
Fuse webbing over cloth.

Step 4: Cut out each plane piece along outside lines. Remove paper from back of each piece. Arrange clouds and body of planes on front of shirt as desired. Tack these pieces in place by pressing point of a hot iron to each for a second or two. Arrange propeller, window, wings, and nose on body of plane and tack in place. Cover arrangement with second pressing cloth. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse fabric pieces to sweatshirt. Repeat this step, fusing remaining cloud and plane to back of shirt.

Step 5: Slip sweatshirt over shirt board, placing the side to be painted over the waxed side of the board. Squeezing paints directly from bottle, outline each piece of fabric with fabric paint in color to match. When one side has dried, turn shirt around on board and outline the plane and cloud on other side. (Back of shirt shown above.)

Variation

It is difficult to find wearable art designs suitable for boys. Use this fusible webbing technique to create your own designs of trains or automobiles -- or, even spaceships and boats. Use the simplified illustrations in coloring books and children's picture books for inspiration.

ABOUT THE CRAFT DESIGNERS

The following crafts were designed by Janelle Hayes, Christina Romo Carlisle and Janis Bullis.

Rainbow Loops & Beads Sweatshirt

Keys to My Heart Sweatshirt

Planes 'n' Clouds Sweatshirt

For more fun activities and jewelry crafts, check out: