Makin’ Glue Shirts

I have a little problem with magazines! I kinda hoard them… And then end up with piles of them around the house. Luckily, the house isn’t laid out as a magazine stack maze, quite yet… But every now and then I zoom through the piles. I saw this glue project in one of my Better Homes and Gardens magazines  (but I can’t find it online) not too long ago! It looked like a perfect summer time project to do with the kiddo!


We thought we’d make the shirts, but weren’t sure what designs to make. We decided to use some of my son’s drawings to copy on the shirts.


So we got our t-shirts, glue (excuse my sad looking bottle of glue! The lid broke and it was the only bottle of glue we had! I used plain ‘ole Elmer’s washable glue), cardboard to put inside the shirt, fabric paint and paintbrushes!


And off we went to start gluing. If you try this, keep in mind the glue will probably run together…



It started off not running, but after a while, some parts of the glue ran into each other.


We got it going and then realized we needed to wait for the glue to dry… hmmm… We walked the dog… We cleaned the house… We ate dinner… Then we couldn’t wait any longer and got to painting even though the glue wasn’t completely dry, but it was pretty dry around the edges!


We watered down the fabric paint until it was almost like watercolors. Not sure if we needed to water it down as much as we did. When we went back to do a second coat, it ran a little past the glue.



Since they were watered down, the paints blended pretty cool!

Then we played the waiting game again…. The paints say to wait 72 hours before washing! 72 hours??? Do you know how long 72 hours is to a 4 year old? It’s like 100 years! After the kiddo asked, every hour, has it been 72 hours yet, we decided to pick one shirt as our washing guinea pig. And of course, the kiddo chose mine, not his, to use to see if it worked! And it worked!


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And then we washed the kiddos shirt!
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Now my son wasn’t quite as happy with his shirt as I was with mine. So our lesson learned was to not use a very complicated design.


Originally, my son’s drawing was off a monster on a skateboard. But he decided his shirt need a little more and we got out the fabric markers and he added more to the glue design to look more like his picture. And of course, what monster doesn’t love lightening? So lightening was added!

What would your design be? do you think we copied our designs pretty well? I think they look pretty much like the original design drawings!



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  1. Does the glue wash off?

  2. Awesome craft idea! Did you use the white Elmer’s Glue? What happened to the glue when you washed the shirts?

    • I believe my glue was called ‘gel’ glue. It’s not supposed to run as much. So it technically isn’t white. But it is Elmer’s. OH, and it did say washable! The glue just washed away. After the first wash there were a few bits of glue left, so I washed again. And it was gone!

      • That is interesting that the glue washed away, but if it said “washable”, then it would have. I just never used glue for this type of project before! Very interesting!

        Also, have you seen the paper mache projects that I am working on for Halloween? By the way, would you perhaps have two pieces of some either sheer or white thin fabric that I could have? Possibly about 12″ x 15″. I need this material to make flames for a Halloween prop. Let me know! 🙂

  3. Those are awesome! I definitely have to try that with my boy!!

  4. This look like so much fun. Could you give a few more details on how to do this, please? My kids would LOVE this. What type of glue? Paint? How much to water down? Pretreated shirts? Set the glue/paint? etc. Thanks so much!

    • You’re making it too complicated! hehehe! We just used Elmer’s washable glue. I think it might have been a ‘gel’ glue. Just fabric paint that we had at home, I’m sure any would work. And I have no scientific data on how much water. If I had to guess how much water, it was probably something like 1 part paint to 10 parts water. Basically, just put in some water and try it out. Get it to the consistency you’d like. I think I might have added too much, because I went back and did a second layer on the yellow. Nope, I didn’t pre-treat the shirts (despite what the fabric paint said to do). Like I mentioned, I didn’t wait the time the fabric paint instructions said to before I washed. I did iron the images afterwards, but, again, according to the paint directions you don’t have to. So basically, I’d say, either follow the directions on the fabric paint, or don’t and roll with it like I did. I realized the t-shirts were 5 bucks, and even though I really wanted it to work exactly right the first time, I hadn’t made a huge investment if it didn’t! So with all this information, just go with what feels right! Hope this helps!

  5. Love this idea. So…I’m guessing by the pics…you “draw” your design w/ glue, let it dry then paint inside. Wash and the glue goes away but the paint stays. So cute.

  6. oh that looks like alot of fun!!

  7. Jaan L says:

    Thanks for the great idea. I have purchased some fabric paints during winter holidays, but didn’t know what to do with them. I’m going to ‘paint’ a duppatta to see how that turns out. Then maybe onward to my suits. Love both of the T-shirts. And monsters always need lightening.


  1. […] This tutorial explains how you draw pictures on a t-shirt using glue and then fill in the designs using fabric paint. The hardest part of this entire project is having the patience to wait for the paint to set before you can wash and wear your masterpiece. […]

  2. […] I think might be one of my most favorite projects! The glue shirts were super cool! We’re so doing this again this […]

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