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Make Thanksgiving Tee Shirts for Kids with Sulky Pens and Paint

Updated on October 22, 2017
RTalloni profile image

Robertatalloni means creativity. Whether in writing or in more typical art forms artistry (and a bit of fun) must be part of the work.

Make easy transfers with Sulky pens and paint a child's holiday T shirt!
Make easy transfers with Sulky pens and paint a child's holiday T shirt! | Source

Thanksgiving Tee Shirts Created with Sulky Pens and Craft Paints


If you are familiar with my previous tee shirt hubs for kids then you know how much fun I have creating something special around holidays for my grandchildren.

Hopefully, my work will give them a big smile, and, at the very least, they will have a little extra hug of love from their Grandmama during Thanksgiving's season.

Creating iron-on transfers for making painted tee shirts can be done in a few nearly effortless steps:

• Draw or copy your design.

• Take a photo and upload it to your computer if it isn't already there.

• Flip the image if words are included.

• Print the image.

• Trace the image with Sulky transfer pens.

• Iron the image onto a T shirt.

• Paint the image with bright colors or in a monochromatic drawing style.


Last year, my owls were a hit (see links below), but this year a last minute trip to see them left me with little time to do all original work. Sulky pens to the rescue! Though each one of this year’s designs has something original from me in them, all but one began with a transfer from a coloring book.

You’ll find the projects in the photos below. See how easy it is to create something special for your little ones and let me know what you think about this season’s tee shirts in the comments below. I’ll start with the youngest and go to the oldest since I made two designs for him.


My 2013 Tee Shirts


For the youngest of our little brood I worked from an idea that had clearly been created very simply with the shapes tools of a computer.

Simple circles, a triangle, a quote box, and the freehand drawing option allowed me to quickly put this one together and next use a selected font in a text box for my own quote.

Filling in the geometric shapes with craft paint after the transfer was added to the shirts and adding metallic gold highlights gave this duck egg blue onesie a turkey design for sweet SJ’s first Thanksgiving, who will be 5 months old then.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Remember to flip the design if using words on a transfer.Too bad the gold paint highlights don't show up in my photos!A cute Thanksgiving onesie for a little guy.
Remember to flip the design if using words on a transfer.
Remember to flip the design if using words on a transfer. | Source
Too bad the gold paint highlights don't show up in my photos!
Too bad the gold paint highlights don't show up in my photos! | Source
A cute Thanksgiving onesie for a little guy.
A cute Thanksgiving onesie for a little guy. | Source


Our delightful two-year-old AG will be announcing how much she likes pumpkin pie in her teal T shirt.

The pumpkin and the π sign were straightforward symbols to find and I drew the I and the heart, as well as the scrolling with leaves.

Again, this transfer was effortlessly painted after it was applied to the shirt. The photographed colors are not showing true but this is also highlighted with metallic gold.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A closeup of the reversed transfer created with Sulky pens.Transfer ironed on and embellished with craft paints mixed with paint medium.Colors are not true, but you can still see the cuteness.  :)
A closeup of the reversed transfer created with Sulky pens.
A closeup of the reversed transfer created with Sulky pens. | Source
Transfer ironed on and embellished with craft paints mixed with paint medium.
Transfer ironed on and embellished with craft paints mixed with paint medium. | Source
Colors are not true, but you can still see the cuteness.  :)
Colors are not true, but you can still see the cuteness. :) | Source


CW is our 3-year-old cute little precious pun’kin and her turkey tells us what she likes, as well.

I drew her design and found just the right font for the "Pun’kin Pie" lettering. Gold highlights here, too, with some metallic copper paint incorporated into the dots and lettering.

Transferring all of the designs after tracing and painting them, I let the paint dry according to package directions. Then a sheet of paper went underneath and on top to protect from bleed through as I heat set the painted patterns with my iron.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Reversed transfer image ready to go.Close up of painted design, but again, I could not get true colors in my shots or get the metallics to show in the pics.Ironed and ready for Thanksgiving!
Reversed transfer image ready to go.
Reversed transfer image ready to go. | Source
Close up of painted design, but again, I could not get true colors in my shots or get the metallics to show in the pics.
Close up of painted design, but again, I could not get true colors in my shots or get the metallics to show in the pics. | Source
Ironed and ready for Thanksgiving!
Ironed and ready for Thanksgiving! | Source


Sugar pie EM, our soon-to-be 4 year old, is old enough to enjoy Snoopy’s Thanksgiving from a coloring book. Sharing a “Happy Thanksgiving!” with others is right up her alley.

I did get two for one on this transfer, but I traced and painted them with slight differences (see the 6 year old’s shirt below). Hers has two font styles, for instance, with confetti dots to highlight it.

Putting these designs on an angle gave their appearance a bit of depth, and this one does not have as much gold highlighting, which was actually more effective.

Happy Thanksgiving with The Dog: Number 1

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Adding words/quotes to a design can be done by hand or with a computer.Angling designs adds interest and helps solve centering issues.Another T shirt ready for the Thanksgiving season.
Adding words/quotes to a design can be done by hand or with a computer.
Adding words/quotes to a design can be done by hand or with a computer. | Source
Angling designs adds interest and helps solve centering issues.
Angling designs adds interest and helps solve centering issues. | Source
Another T shirt ready for the Thanksgiving season.
Another T shirt ready for the Thanksgiving season. | Source


6 year old T is quite the big boy now and definitely not into the babyish designs of previous years. He, however, does like Charlie Brown’s themes so announcing that “It’s Thanksgiving!” made a good to go shirt for him.

A little larger and bolder, his design is more masculine, and yet perfect for a great little kid. Snoopy will give him a chuckle during the holiday’s season, I hope! He’ll also know that his grandmama was thinking about him as being more grown up.

If you like these designs or if a different idea for one strikes you and you get busy creating one, it would be neat to see your work in a hub!

Happy T-Day with The Dog: Number 2

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A more grown up font and design was needful for a growing up boy.His shirt is a darker teal than the girls.His design was the largest since he's grown so much!
A more grown up font and design was needful for a growing up boy.
A more grown up font and design was needful for a growing up boy. | Source
His shirt is a darker teal than the girls.
His shirt is a darker teal than the girls. | Source
His design was the largest since he's grown so much!
His design was the largest since he's grown so much! | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Located lower right side of the shirt, this was a simple design to trace, drawing is another story!Closer up you can see my errors.  :)
Located lower right side of the shirt, this was a simple design to trace, drawing is another story!
Located lower right side of the shirt, this was a simple design to trace, drawing is another story! | Source
Closer up you can see my errors.  :)
Closer up you can see my errors. :) | Source


T is a lover of Legos--big news for a boy, huh? My Lego car picture is a little askew, but he didn't seem to mind. Much thanks to Pearse for the coloring page that helped me with the idea/drawing! The long sleeved gray tee shirt is soft enough to sleep and play in so I hope T gets a lot of fun wear out of it.

Sorry I didn't get a full shot of this one because the design is not center front as the others are. Maybe you can see that it is on the lower right front. The next time I draw him a vehicle I plan to put a road around and up to the back center with a traffic light or road sign design at the end.

Fabric Painting

Are you familiar with fabric painting?

See results

Designing Tips


• All fabrics should be washed and dryer dried without fabric softener before a transfer and/or paint is added, whether it is a garment or otherwise. Starches in new fabrics will prevent the designs from sticking.

• Craft paints mixed with medium make an easy to use paint that is made permanent by ironing after the paint’s dry time is over. Be sure to place a clean paper or cloth under the design and use the same over the top to protect the ironing board cover and iron. Press to set the paint. It is a good idea to have a separate craft iron for this project, just in case you get paint on the iron.

• Think through the paint colors you want to use ahead of time, making sure the combinations will give the effect your want to achieve. If it is crucial that colors are true you may want to do a sample project up to make sure the color of the shirt will not affect the outcome.

• When using Sulky pens for this craft remember that words must be reversed. I take a photo/screen shot of my final design and use the flip feature on my computer to print it. A light box can also be used when tracing to reverse the words. Any other features of the pattern that you do not want backwards must be also be flipped in the same way.

• Though I’ve not yet reused the transfers I’ve created, it is my understanding that they can be reused many times. This would make them extra easy and a lot of fun for parties, family reunions, and more. Kid’s would enjoy seeing their drawn designs on tote bags, and I saw a set of cloth coasters painted with fall leaves--think hostess gifts!

You can see my previous create-a-tee-shirt hubs via these links:


• Thanksgiving, 2012, owls were the theme for four grandchildren’s T shirts. It is lovely that this year I had five shirts to paint!

Fourth of July T shirts, one for a boy and one for a girl.

• Toddler sized Fourth of July T shirts.

Valentines Day is a great day for a painted T shirt.

• Even boys can have painted T shirts on Valentines Day.


Use Sulky Transfer Pens

More T Shirt Painting Info:

• FAQ's about fabric painting.

Some history on fabric painting/printing.

A Design Idea for Faded T Shirts:

Grandchildren are Precious Gifts Who need Our Prayers:


As we work to protect our youngest children from the world's harsh realities (that they will soon enough discover) and teach them gentleness, love, and grace, the need to pray for them is urgent. I've posted some of my work to that end here at HubPages both to encourage other Christians to pray for their own and to share some of my poetry for them with others. I plan to soon post one of these for our brand new grandson.

A love note to T, our first grandchild and first grandson.

With love to EM, our second grandchild and first granddaughter.

With love to CW, our third grandchild and second granddaughter.

A love note to AG, our fourth grandchild and third granddaughter.

Also see:

An interesting look at growing families can be found at this NBC report.

A short story look at an innovative foster care idea for children in need.


Demonstrating Sulky Pens:

What do you think of this year's Thanksgiving T shirt designs?

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    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      peachpurple:

      They were new to me, as well, but I've enjoyed using them. If they are not available in your area, there are many other fabric transfer/paint products on the market. Thanks for stopping in.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      Never heard of sulky pens, we have marker pens, worth to try, maybe tracing paper

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      anglnwu:

      Thanks kindly for checking out this group of designs. Painting t-shirts for the little ones is a neat creative outlet and a way to give them a little long-distance hug! :)

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      pstraubie48:

      Thanks very much for letting me know this project idea will be useful to you. I think my favorite Thanksgiving t-shirts for the grands so far was the owl idea. You might like to show the owl hub to your daughter before she decides on her theme. It is titled Sulky Transfer Pens for Painting Owl Designs..., but the video I made to go with it does not present a good picture of the owls to promote the hub so don't let it trick you into thinking it's the wrong hub. (I learned to start the video with the right photo!)

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 3 years ago

      Wow, such great ideas. Your grandkids must love you very much. I love all your design ideas for T-shirts, especially the pumpkin one. Rated up.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      This is such a sweet little project. My daughter will enjoy doing this as she is so very talented in the crafting area. Not so much her Momma.

      Angels are on the way to you ps

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      jtrader:

      Thanks much. Painted tees are fun to design and create, especially when they are for special little ones. :)

    • jtrader profile image

      jtrader 3 years ago

      Cool way to make clothes that kids will enjoy.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      vespawoolf:

      Thanks much for stopping in to check out these projects. I hope you get to enjoy painting some shirts with your nieces soon!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

      This is a great craft idea for kids. I need to make the time to do it with my two little nieces. I enjoyed reading about the designs your children chose. Thank you for sharing.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      prasetio30:

      Thanks kindly for your feedback here. I'm thinking of my winter tee shirt projects right now...

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 3 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very inspiring hub and very creative as well. I got new idea from this hub. Thanks for writing and sharing with us. Voted up :-)

      Prasetio

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Peggy W:

      It would be a lot of fun to create a stock of these hand-painted shirts and participate in a craft show. Making time to do that is another story! :) Thanks much for coming by!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I am bookmarking this by pinning it. I'll bet that these would do well in craft shows! Before reading your hubs I had never heard of Sulky pens. Thanks!

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Natashalh:

      Thanks for your feedback on this tee shirt hub! I hope you get to try the Sulky pens out soon. I'm getting ready to do some winter shirts and thinking through the designs is fun work. Executing them with these transfer pens is the easy part!

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Glimmer Twin Fan:

      So glad that your daughter will get to enjoy this craft! Thanks much for letting me know.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Really cool! I've never used Sulky pens, but I used to love making shirts with iron ons and puff paint. My guy would totally love the I love pumpkin pi shirt.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      What a great idea and so personalized too. My daughter will love doing something like this! Thanks. Pinned and shared.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Writer Fox:

      Thanks kindly for your positive feedback on this craft hub. Creative designs like this would definitely be easy to use in the applications you mention, not to mention fun! :)

    • Writer Fox profile image

      Writer Fox 4 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      These are wonderful ideas and just in time for Thanksgiving! Some of these graphics would work well for tablecloths, place mats and napkins for the holiday table. Voted up.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Suzanne Day:

      Yes, the crayons can be messy, but these transfer pens are easy, and the transfers are reusable!

      I've not seen metallic or glitter transfer pens. I used the metallic paints and as with the metallic paints, there are several brands of glitter paints for fabric. I hope you can find what you are looking for in Australia!

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      AliciaC:

      The method is simple and fun--such a neat creative outlet. Hope you do get to try your hand at this craft soon! Think outside the box and consider making fabric ornaments or decorations for the holidays. Thanks much for coming by!

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 4 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      Sulky pens look interesting. I used to use fabric crayons for tshirt design, but while colourful, they could smear and get a bit messy. I particularly like the idea of using metallic sulky pens for embellishment. Can you get glitter ones?

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      MarleneB:

      You are right! You could indeed get an extra hug in return! :)

      So appreciate your comments on this craft hub--thanks!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I am very tempted to try Sulky transfer pens after reading this hub. It sounds so easy and so much fun to use the pens! The designs are a wonderful way to personalize a T shirt. Thank you for the instructions. I'll look for the pens next time I'm in a craft store.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Eiddwen:

      :) Hope you get to enjoy making T-shirts soon!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      This sounds like a lot of fun. I feel like I could do this for my grandkids and get an extra hug, too. Thanks. Your instructions are always so easy to follow.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      teaches12345:

      Thanks bunches!

      Time…that special commodity that keeps us from doing everything! :)

      So appreciate your feedback on this T-shirt hub!

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Pamela99:

      Thanks so much for your kind feedback on this craft hub! I hope the ideas can be used by others as a springboard for developing a project that gives them a creative outlet.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Another great hub for my Rainy Day box.

      Eddy.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Such cue T ideas. If I had the time, I would make myself a couple of these. Excellent article for the upcoming holiday season.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      You are so clever with all crafts. I miss having young children to make those clever items. This is an excellent hub.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Genna East:

      You'll have so much memory-making-fun with your granddaughter! Thanks bunches for letting me know you came by and enjoyed seeing this post.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      So many fun and interesting ideas! I've bookmarked this one, and look forward to trying some of these projects with my granddaughter as soon as she is old enough to enjoy them. Thank you! :-)

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      moonlake:

      It is easier these days--new products make the craft even more fun! Thanks for your kind feedback here, so appreciate your visit.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      DDE:

      It is a neat craft project to make for others or to do with kiddos. Thanks for your visit and comment!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      Great hub. I use to fabric paint all the time. I need to get back in it. It's different from what I use to do and easier. Your t-shirts are so cute. Voted up .

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Make Thanksgiving Tee Shirts for Kids with Sulky Pens and Paint incredible idea and looks so fancy with such simple steps one can have a lovely T-shirt

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      epbooks:

      Thanks, thanks! :) So appreciate your helpful feedback!

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      StephSev108:

      So appreciate that you checked out this craft hub and left your encouraging comment!

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Looks very cute and so much fun! Great explanation!

    • StephSev108 profile image

      Stephanie Marie Severson 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      This looks so fun. Thanks for the awesome hub!

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Ericdierker:

      Thanks kindly for your visit and feedback here. Hope you enjoy your mess and make a great memory out of the project!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Super duper and fun. I want one. We are going to make a mess here! So be it!

      Thanks a lot.