Introduction: Toddler-Stamped "Up" Inspired Balloon T-Shirt

Picture of Toddler-Stamped "Up" Inspired Balloon T-Shirt

Lately, my son has been into the movie, Up, which he happily calls "Balloons!"  Since it was the balloons that obviously drew him to the movie in the first place, I decided that I wanted to make him a t-shirt with which he could proudly display the balloons that he loves so much.  My idea was to get him involved in the process.  So, I figured the best way to do that would be to use a stamp for the balloons, and to let him help me stamp them on his shirt.  It's not easy to find cute crafts for a two year old, but this actually went much better than expected and was a lot of fun to make with him.
This has become his favorite shirt, and he wants to wear it daily.  He gets very mad that mommy won't let him wear it when it needs to be washed!!  Be warned, though, ever since we made the Up shirt, the Wall-E shirts have been gathering dust.  :(

What you will need:
-T-shirt
-Fabric paints
-Fabric marker (Black)
-Craft foam
-Contact cement
-Small, flat object for stamp backing.  I used a milk bottle top.
-Paintbrush
-Airbrush (optional) for clouds

Step 1: Step 1: Make Your Custom Balloon Stamp

Picture of Step 1: Make Your Custom Balloon Stamp

There are numerous ways to make a homemade stamp for stamping on paint.  Popular choices on the internet are potato, which, obviously doesn't make for a permanent stamp, and erasers, which are nice, but aren't as easy to carve.  My favorite lately, though, is to use craft foam.  It is easy to cut with a scissors, and can be rubber cemented to any flat surface to make an instant stamp.
To make your balloon stamp, just draw a simple balloon shape in the size you want on your craft foam and cut it out.  
When making a large stamp, I have often used a cd cover as a backing because it is transparent, allowing me to see where I to easily position the stamp.  In this case, though, I wanted to use something small enough for small, toddler hands to use.  So, I chose a milk bottle cap.

Step 2: Step 2: Stamp on Your Balloons

Picture of Step 2: Stamp on Your Balloons

To get the fabric paint on the stamp, I was the one to brush it on with a paintbrush.  I figured that would be the least messy and quickest way to do it.
I then let my son help me to stamp some balloons on the t-shirt.  You can see that he did the right balloon (sideways) by himself right after I stamped on the first balloon.  After that, I helped guide him to stamp the balloons in aesthetically pleasing arrangements.  He didn't seem to mind me rudely blocking his creative freedom.
I went in to the kitchen to get some water to clean my paintbrush between colors.  The stamp didn't have much paint left on it, so I left it as it was on the table.  When I came back, I saw that my son had continued on the project without my help. (Notice the two small, light orange balloons way below the group of balloons at the top of the shirt.
Maybe I shouldn't have covered up the balloons that he had so proudly stamped all by himself, but I didn't want the shirt to look stained.  So, I ended up covering them up with the house and clouds which I was planning on painting on anyway.

Step 3: Step 3: Paint on the House

Picture of Step 3: Paint on the House

I had considered making a stencil and airbrushing the house as I usually do (I like how the paint is much softer when airbrushed as opposed to applying with a paintbrush).  I also considered cutting a house out of iron-on vinyl with my Silhouette Cameo.  In the end, though, I decided to just paint a house on the shirt freehand because I wanted it to be multi-colored.  I figured that fit more with the way the movie went, too.  She had painted a colorful mural of her house at Paradise Falls over her fireplace, so I decided to paint it too.
Feel free to use mine as a guide, or look for pictures of their house to help guide you.  My fabric marker came in handy for touching up details.  I also used it for drawing on the strings to the balloons.

Step 4: Step 4: Clean Up the Balloons (Or Not!)

Picture of Step 4: Clean Up the Balloons (Or Not!)

I cleaned up the shirt a little by using paint on my paintbrush to cover some of the overlapped areas of the balloons.  Even though balloons are partially transparent, I didn't always want to have the same color balloons on top (which is what happened because we started with one color, painting multiple balloons, and finished with another). 
I also wanted to fix some of the balloons that my son hadn't stamped down all of the way.  
In retrospect, I almost like the artistic quality of the balloons better before I touched them!  So, this step is obviously optional.

Step 5: Step 5: Paint on Clouds and Wear It (Again and Again...)

Picture of Step 5: Paint on Clouds and Wear It (Again and Again...)

The shirt needed just a little bit more to it, though.  I wanted to paint on some clouds, which I, at first, sponged on with white fabric paint.  My first cloud looked a bit too heavy for my taste, though.  I ended up airbrushing them on, and my airbrush was happy again...

...So was my son, who immediately wanted to put on his shirt and go watch Up for the 267th time (just an estimate, of course). 
If you don't have an airbrush, you can sponge or paint or stamp on some clouds if you like.

My son wore his shirt to nursery school, and proudly showed it off to all of his friends.  When I went to pick him up that afternoon, he was playing with another boy whose mother happened to arrive just a few minutes later.  That's when the little boy showed the "balloon shirt" to his mom, saying that he wanted her to buy him one too!!  I was proud, but actually a bit surprised by the popularity of his new shirt.  I personally liked the Wall-E shirts better, but toddlers seem to prefer this shirt.

He loved it so much, that he threw a fit the next day when I wouldn't let him wear it to school again.  Sigh.  
Maybe you shouldn't make this shirt; you will likely end up doing laundry more often for your cute, dictator son or daughter.

Comments

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2013-06-28

That is so adorable and so incredibly colorful!

tidje (author)Penolopy Bulnick2013-06-28

Thanks!! In the end, most of his t-shirts have been embellished by us in some way or another, and this is his favorite. Maybe that is why-all of the colors. :)

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Bio: Originally from Michigan, I am currently living on the Spanish Riviera with my Spanish husband, our toddler, two dogs and four hens. I love to ... More »
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