Back to School Wardrobe on a Budget!!!




About: Hi! My name is Natalie! I have an awesome husband that lets me be a Play-at-home mom of 3! We homeschool and do projects daily! Check out my blog Doodlecraft for more awesomeness!

This has been the funnest Back To School Wardrobe ever!
And cheap too!
Prepare yourself for a photo explosion...seriously,
I should have divided this post up into 6 separate instructables!

Do you spend a ton of money on a new
Back to School wardrobe?
I get it, some schools have uniforms...and we homeschool...but
kids need something to wear when they go out and
here is how we do our Back to School Wardrobe on a Budget! :)

Teacher Notes

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Step 1: Supplies Needed:

Here's what you need.

We bought 20-30 at the cheap!

Freezer Paper.
We bought a big roll for $6 at Walmart.
One side is shiny, the other side matte.  Iron the shiny side to the fabric.
You will use the Freezer paper as a stencil.  Cut the desired shapes...iron onto your shirt and paint!
Peel off and ta-da!

Fabric Paint...brushes
We had a can use acrylic craft paint's cheap!

Hobby knife.
Or a fancy cutting machine like a Silhouette Cameo.

Seriously, this is the only reason I own an iron.

This is so the paint doesn't bleed through to the back.
I use a flat rate box from the post office...

Ready, set, go!

Step 2: Hardest First--the Full Color Shirt!

I'm going to do a walkthrough of the variety of shirts we did.
Starting with the most complicated...that way, by the end, it will be a breeze!

#1:  Full Color Shirt

We used a picture of Applebloom from My Little Pony.
Print out a picture, tape it to your freezer paper...
use the hobby blade to cut your design out of
the freezer paper. 
Save all the little inside pieces to iron on the shirt.
We cut the outline of the picture out...essentially all the black lines.
Then carefully took 1 piece at a time and ironed it on the fabric.
Once secured, we painted all the outline black.
While still wet, we removed piece by piece...
Until only a sweet outline remained.  Then we let it dry.
Then we used a paintbrush and simply "colored" her in!
One color at a time!
We added some glitter paint in with the
pink for the perfect bow!

Let dry.  Wear.
Force child to change clothes after 2 days straight of wearing...
Not super hard right?

Step 3: More Outline Shirts!

Here are some more shirts done with the OUTLINE/Coloring technique!
Okay and another photo recap of the simplicity of these shirts!  Plus, we love R2D2...what 4 year old boy wouldn't love this?

Step 4: #2: Ombre Silhouettes!

Okay, for an ombre or color blending effect follow these steps.

Iron on your freezer paper and the inner pieces.
Then paint!  Red at the bottom...yellow at the top...
blend together in the middle!
Awesome grunge look!  Can you believe this shirt was $1? :)

The Dr. Who Dalek shirt is just blended right on top of the white for a distressed feel.

Step 5: #3: Multi Color Awesome.

Okay, basically same idea...just no blending.
Here's the silhouette ironed on...that Gandalf staff was hard, but worth it!
All painted different the lightsaber!
The paint absorbs into the shirt and gives it that vintage soft finish...not stiff.
This one has to be my favorite!

The Elder Wand from Harry Potter
Gandalf the White's staff
Jedi Lightsaber
10th Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver

Save off this jpeg file to make your own!  I know you want to!  :)
Add some clever words too!

Step 6: Multicolor Necklace Shirt...

Here's another of the multicolored variety!
The faux necklace shirt!

I cut the freezer paper in the basic shape of a necklace.
Punch holes (I used a 1/2" punch)
Cut a heart...ribbons...then paint
Just use the back end of your paintbrush
and add in some silvery dots!

Easy project for kids!

Step 7: #4: 2 Stencils!

Begin with first background stencil.
I used vinyl on this one...could still use freezer paper.
Lightly sponged for a distressed look...
Remove stencil.  Let dry.
Iron on your Freezer Paper ATAT
Paint it, peel it, dry it, wear it!

Love it!

Step 8: #5: Super Simple Single Silhouette!

Last kind of shirt...the easiest! 
1 solid silhouette...1 color of paint...awesome sauce.

Cut design, iron it on.  Paint it one color.
Peel off freezer paper...let dry.

We did a bunch like this because it's so simple!

Are you exhausted?  Is your brain full of ideas?
If you've never used freezer paper for crafts, try it!

Now you can make the die-hard fan t-shirt you've always wanted!
My kids are thrilled with their new shirts, their friends LOVE them!
I am an awesome mom!  And I am thrilled with the price!

It was so much fun!
We still have a bunch of black shirts for a Halloween project!

Hey if you liked this, Please vote for me in the
Back to School Contest!  :)  Thanks!

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    28 Discussions


    4 years ago on Step 8

    Oh, by the way, your kids are too cute!


    6 years ago on Step 8

    Very cool designs. You obviously have an eye for design. They do look professional. Where did you get the shirts for just $1?

    3 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Step 8

    Thanks very much! I found the shirts at the Dollar Tree...some were labeled as "slightly irregular"...but none of them seemed to have any obvious problems! :)


    6 years ago

    Thank you so much


    6 years ago on Step 2

    wow my kids will love this ! im guarenteed there will not be any matches in the class and its alot more fun for them then standing in the store while i hold clothes up to them lol


    6 years ago on Step 8

    I love these! Very nice job. Thank you so very much doodlecraft for sharing these.


    6 years ago on Step 5

    I. Absolutely. LOVE. The "Tools of the Awesome" Shirt!!!! That is mathMATical!!! So geeky and fantastic!


    6 years ago

    Love your Doctor Who designs! Thanks for sharing :)


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I like the concept and the shirts look awesome but like The King Of Random, I'm not quite following the instructions. I've read and re read but am not picturing the step be step process as you describe it. Would you post some pics of the process please?

    1 reply

    I'm sorry that it's hard to follow. I used a cutting machine to do the work for me. (anyone could do it without a cutting machine, but you'd need a cutting mat and x-acto knife). The basic idea is to cut out the positive space of the finished product you want. So...if you want a heart shape, you cut out a heart shape...discard the heart and keep the stencil. (then Iron on the stencil and paint the heart...then remove the stencil for a perfectly crisp heart) For more complicated images...picture them as an black lined coloring book picture. You are going to cut out all the "black" lines and keep all the negative space. This will fit like a puzzle (minus the black lines) onto your shirt. Ironing the freezer paper keeps it stuck in place...until you peel it off. That's where the pictures above come in. It's cheap and fun, so you might as well give it a try! (if I didn't just totally confuse you more!)
    Here is another tutorial I did and posted on my blog.  It might clarify things better...
    I say, just go for it!  :)


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I marked this on my profile as one of my favorites. Really good work!


    6 years ago on Step 8

    Wow! This is a great idea and definitely a great alternative to screen printing, especially when you just want a simple, cool, one time shirt with a little homemade touch. I like the designs and I'd like to know where you found them or how you designed them. I'd really like to make one similar to your Boba/Jango Fett silhouette one!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Super awesome!!!!! i love doing stencil shirts and yours have a very appealing hand-made look. Love it. Did the kids enjoy making their own wardrobes?

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! Yes, my kids loved it! My son said..."I know I want a Star Wars, Dr. Who, Harry Potter, and dragon shirt"...after that it was easy! :)

    The King of Random

    7 years ago on Step 8

    Hey Natalie! You kind of blew my mind with this idea. I still don't quite get it, so I'll have to return and study it some more! Your shirts look super professional, I'm amazed!

    I'd love to vote for you but haven't seen your project in the contest? Is it still pending approval?

    2 replies

    Hey King!
    It's the magic of freezer paper...that stuff is awesome! One side is shiny, that's the side that sticks to fabric when you iron it. The rest is cake after that! :)
    Try it--it's so fun! Make Janae something nice!

    If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't even know what freezer paper is! haha. I'll look for it next time I go shopping.

    Nice job on the office makeover as well! Everything looks so great and professional!