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Earth Day Arts and Crafts: Make a T-Shirt

Updated on November 25, 2015

Earth Day T-Shirt

Earth Day is April 22 every year. It's fun to do different activities associated with creating awareness about caring for the planet. We only have one planet and we all have to share it, right?

The possibilities are endless: volunteering, doing a Billion Acts of Green, push for earth-friendly legislation and much more.

But, you can get even more creative and design your own Earth Day T-Shirt! Everyone will see your support and you might inspire someone else to become interested, too.

My Earth Day T-Shirt.
My Earth Day T-Shirt. | Source
You don't need many materials for this project - many of these you can probably find around the house.
You don't need many materials for this project - many of these you can probably find around the house. | Source

Supplies and Materials for Earth Day T-Shirt

What You Need:

  1. A plain t-shirt, light in color
  2. Sketchbook
  3. Markers (I used Sharpie markers)
  4. Pencil
  5. Piece of cardboard (big enough to fit under shirt)
  6. Bulletin board (to pin shirt in place)
  7. Tacks (to pin shirt in place)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My sketches before I came up with my flower.  Lots of "bad" sketches lead up to the "good" one.My last sketch - colored in with permanent marker.
My sketches before I came up with my flower.  Lots of "bad" sketches lead up to the "good" one.
My sketches before I came up with my flower. Lots of "bad" sketches lead up to the "good" one. | Source
My last sketch - colored in with permanent marker.
My last sketch - colored in with permanent marker. | Source

This Project Takes Little Or No Money

When I created my Earth Day t-shirt, I looked for ways to make it that were sustainable. I found the white t-shirt at another family member's house. It was in the Goodwill pile.

I began by sketching ideas into my sketchbook. I sometimes write different words down to help get the creative juices flowing: earth, flowers, trees, leaves, etc. I came up with several sketches.

I created the image in pencil. When I knew that this was the image I wanted to use - it just "felt" right - I began to color it in.

As an optional step, you can erase the pencil marks when you have finished. When you're drawing and later coloring with marker, you can go back and erase pencil sketches, as long as they are light marks in the first place. When you sketch your images, draw lightly so it's possible to erase pencil marks after you have finished.

When I created a sketch that I really liked - it just "felt" right - I used my permanent markers to color it in.

The Earth Day T-Shirt In Pictures

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Be sure to insert a piece of cardboard between the front and back of the shirt so the markers don't bleed through to the back.Draw a circle for the planet with a toilet paper tube.Draw the first petals opposite each other to help achieve good spacing and balance.Add the petals until no more fit.Begin filling in the details - the leaf, the stem and leaf, the smaller petals and continents.Add the second row of petals.Begin coloring.  I started with the small petals - I chose a small space to get a feel for how the markers would react on the fabric.Almost finished.Just finished.Here's a close-up.
Be sure to insert a piece of cardboard between the front and back of the shirt so the markers don't bleed through to the back.
Be sure to insert a piece of cardboard between the front and back of the shirt so the markers don't bleed through to the back. | Source
Draw a circle for the planet with a toilet paper tube.
Draw a circle for the planet with a toilet paper tube. | Source
Draw the first petals opposite each other to help achieve good spacing and balance.
Draw the first petals opposite each other to help achieve good spacing and balance. | Source
Add the petals until no more fit.
Add the petals until no more fit. | Source
Begin filling in the details - the leaf, the stem and leaf, the smaller petals and continents.
Begin filling in the details - the leaf, the stem and leaf, the smaller petals and continents. | Source
Add the second row of petals.
Add the second row of petals. | Source
Begin coloring.  I started with the small petals - I chose a small space to get a feel for how the markers would react on the fabric.
Begin coloring. I started with the small petals - I chose a small space to get a feel for how the markers would react on the fabric. | Source
Almost finished.
Almost finished. | Source
Just finished.
Just finished. | Source
Here's a close-up.
Here's a close-up. | Source

Next Steps: Work on the T-Shirt

I took my clean t-shirt and pinned it to my bulletin board using the tacks. I slid a piece of cardboard between the front and back of the shirt so that the marker wouldn't bleed through to the back.

Draw Your Image Onto the T-Shirt

I used the same permanent markers that I did for the drawing in my sketchbook. On the t-shirt, I began with drawing the center of the image. It is the round shape of the earth.

To get a good round shape, I used a toilet paper roll to trace. If you have a steady hand, however, you can draw a circle using freehand.

You need to draw the image in pen or marker. If you use pencil first, it will be hard to see and you can't really "erase" the marks later.

It can be a little scary drawing the image knowing you don't want to make a mistake. However, you already sketched the image out in the sketchbook. You can now be confident as to what marks you're going to make.

Next, begin drawing the petals. To get a good balance, draw the petals in "opposites". Once the first row of petals are finished, draw in the second row. In the first set of petals, you can draw smaller petals for variety. (See the pictures at right to illustrate what I mean here.)

Draw in the continents. Follow with the stem and leaf.

As you start coloring the image in, use your other hand to hold the fabric in place. Even though the t-shirt is pinned down, you still need to help keep the fabric from stretching too much when you're trying to work on it.

Use short strokes as you color in the shapes and different areas. The markers won't dry out that way.

You can use fabric markers, but I didn't have any on hand. I just used what I had: my permanent markers.

Every so often, switch to a different color to give the markers a rest. That way, you can help prevent the markers from drying out. Cotton tends to absorb moisture and you want to conserve the moisture in the markers as much as possible.

Admire your work once you're finished. You can wear your shirt immediately.

You'll also want to put the shirt on high heat in the dryer for about 30 minutes to set the marker "stain."

Will You Make an Earth Day Craft?

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Care and Other Tips

I used Sharpies, but fabric markers are an even better bet.

When you want to wash the shirt, hand wash in cold water to help prevent any kind of fading.

© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun

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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Your design is remarkable, and as are the other sketches. You have a good eye for artistic details. Love the finished T shirt. It does seem simple to make and this is a great idea for teachers this Earth Day. Voted up!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Hi, teaches!! Great to see you! Aww, I'm so thankful and humbled that you often stop by at my hubs. :) I'm glad you like this sketch and I do hope people can easily make it. (HUGS)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I wasn't going to read any hubs today but saw the title of this one and decided to stop by; wonderful idea Cyndi; love your picture. Have a great Earth Day my friend and thank you for your support and friendship.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      What a great way to celebrate earth day. Do permanent markers stay on the shirt as well as fabric markers? Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      Great idea for Earth Day! I never thought about using permanent markers on fabric, but this is a great way to use materials you have on hand to create a nice shirt. Kids would love this, too! Voted up and pinned!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Billy! (HUGS) I'm sorry I haven't been by to read your hubs the last couple of days. I'm sure you know how busy the end of the school year can be and then trying to write every day. But, know that your friendship means a great deal to me and your kindness has influenced me more than you will ever know. I hope you have a wonderful Earth Day - I know you've been out digging in that wonderful-looking garden of yours. :D

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Hey, alocsin!! (HUGS) Permanent markers don't wash out that easily, though they might fade a little easier than fabric markers. But, eh, no worries, right? Thanks for stopping by. :)

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Stephanie - oh, thank you so much for "pinning" this. I really need to check out that website. It's on my to-do list, I promise. :D Great to see you. This would definitely be a great project to do on your amazing travels. :D (HUGS)

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      This is a great idea! I love the way you organized this hub full of pictures, drawings, and other useful information. Thanks for sharing this! Voted up! Take care, Kelley

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Hi there, Kelly. :) Thank you for stopping by and offering your insights. I had lots of fun doing the drawings for this; I even wore this shirt for Earth Day. :D Thanks again, (HUGS).

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Great idea and artisitic too. Loved your sketches, voted up and creatively beautiful.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Vellur - hey there, friend! Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you liked this. :) It's really fun incorporating my art skills with my writing skills. Hehe. (HUGS)

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      What a great hub and thanks for sharing this one.

      I am going to try it out and will let you know how I get on.

      Take care and enjoy your day.

      Eddy.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Eddy - I would LOVE to hear how it turns out!! I love that you are into this. YAY! Thank you so much for your kind words and enthusiasm. :D You take care, as well. I hope you have a wonderful day. (HUGS)

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 5 years ago from Neverland

      You have so many talents :D You're smart, a great writer AND you can make shirts! I love your design too. You should market it.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Ardie! Hello, friend. :D Hehe, well, thank you for your sweet compliments. Alas, here's one talent I do NOT have: marketing. Whewee, I'm really bad at marketing and "selling" myself. LOL. Now, I can do it if I'm NOT selling something, but as soon as you put money into the equation, I fall all to pieces. Soo, I'm stuck with sharing HOW to do things. Oh well. ;) I did put the design on a t-shirt at Zazzle, though. You're also so talented: you have a comedian streak. I saw something you posted yesterday that had me laughing all through dinner. :D

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Pretty cool! You're so creative--and for a great cause! :-)

    • Tom Schumacher profile image

      Tom Schumacher 4 years ago from Huntington Beach, CA

      Nice hub! Showing appreciation for all this planet has and continues to give us is important. In addition, there are several organizations accepting volunteers. This is a great opportunity to get involved at another level...while sporting your newly designed custom Earth Day attire. Voted up!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Vicki - lol, and YOU CAN WRITE! Oooh, I see and Earth Day poem. XD

      Tom - Thank you so much! Yes, it's fun sporting your own attire for stuff like this. I think I'll make another this year. :)

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