How to Turn a VBS T-Shirt into a Work of Art

VBS Decorated ShirtsIt’s craft time once again for the kids at First Baptist in Alabama. But this time, the kids were not given coloring books or sheets of paper. Instead, Susan, their Sunday school teacher, experimented on an idea that is brilliant in so many levels.

Susan called in and requested that we create for them a bunch of white T- shirts with an outline of their VBS design in black and white. She wanted to keep it plain so that the kids can color and decorate their own shirts and bring out their inner Picasso. What a brilliant idea! Pictured on the left is a sample of the white shirts that VBS T-Shirts made for her class.

So how did the little ones take on the challenge? Just like a painter served with a blank canvass, they immediately transformed into young artists, and painted, beaded and glittered away those plain white shirts like a pro. With shades of purple, a shimmer of gold, and strokes of red and yellow, Voila! Out came a masterpiece that’s barely recognizable from the plain shirt that it once was. 

But aside from inspiring the kids to channel their excessive energy into creating beautiful shirts – that kept them busy for half an hour – But the kids have a finished product that is far more valuable to them because they created it.  Hats off to Susan for her utter ingenuity. Let us take you down further on the economical, sentimental and educational value of this idea.

What you’ll need to have the kids at your VBS take this project on!


We tested three popular decoration methods, Fabric markers, Puffy Paint, Beads here at VBS T-Shirts so that you could put these ideas to work at your VBS.  Pick the options that work best for the kids ability and that fit well in your timeframe and budget.  You can purchase all of the decorating products at Michaels, Hobby Lobby or Online.

The supplies:

  1. T-Shirts.  Start with a custom printed shirt with a single color design for your Theme and your church name.  We are happy to change any of the design ideas on our site to work on a decorating project like this.  Or if your really on a tight budget we can even supply blank t-shirts for your VBS.  Just call us here and we will be happy to help. Blank-VBS-T-Shirt

  2. Fabric Markers. These are fantastic! By far the simplest way for kids to decorate their t-shirts, fabric markers are not very expensive, you don’t need to wait for anything to dry, and the kids can really do some amazing things as they splash color all over the shirts. Fabric markers will mark any fabric they come in contact with, so they can ruin clothing if the kids are not careful.  Suggested Age:  These are great for Preschoolers to Middle Schooler. Fabric-Markers

  3. Puffy Paint: This is an easy way to get some bright highlights and even some 3D type effects, however they can get a little messy if you don’t plan ahead.  Because this needs to dry, be sure and use these last.  Suggested Age:  6th graders and above unless you have plenty of helpers, because it can get messy. Puffy-Paint-VBS

  4. Beads: This can take some time. Beads take the longest of the three decoration methods we tested. But a an inexpensive box of plasitc beads can go a long way.  Someone of appropriate age will need to cut the hems off the shirts and cut parallel cuts that will give you “Strings” to attach the beads.  Suggested Age: Younger kids may have a hard time staying focused on this activity for long enough, so I would suggest an age of 4th grade and above for this, however if you have plenty of helpers the younger kids are capable of doing this one. VBS-Beads

  5. Scissors: Use your best judgement.  The kids will need to cut the hem off the bottom of the shirt and cut slits to create the strings for the beads.  If they cut the collar off their shirts the shirt tend to stop fitting so good.  We have found it best to avoid cutting the collar of the T-shirts. Cutting-VBS-T-Shirts

Watch this time lapse video as this shirt is created by my 6 year old with the help of her 11 year old sister.

The cost savings

The basic principle of printing is: more colors, more ink; equals more cost. This is why opting for black and white designs are one of the practical ways you can save up on printing costs. However, it depends on the purpose of the shirts. In this case, Susan wanted the shirts primarily for craftwork while, at the same time, she knows that the shirts make a great souvenir. Put together those two goals and she saved about $2.00 on each shirt and a priceless smile strewn across the kids’ faces.  

Wear your craft home, create a memory. 

What is a better way to tell your parents what you did at VBS today? Wear “it” home.  And by “it”, I meant, wear what you have masterfully created with your bare hands and make your parents proud. Such is the experience that this idea brought the kids and their parents.

It is always a delight to see how God allows His children to make use of the resources that He has made available to them. And with a personal touch, these kids were able to create their very own VBS mementos and apply what they learn.

If you have stories and similar ideas that you want to share, please click this link or comment below. We would love to feature it in our blog.

One comment on “How to Turn a VBS T-Shirt into a Work of Art
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  1. […] To learn about other ways to decorate t-shirts check out this resource. […]

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