Post image for Tutorial ~ Personlized Subway Art T-Shirt

Tutorial ~ Personlized Subway Art T-Shirt

by Destri on September 9, 2010

This project is part of the Boutique Style For Less Challenge, for more information click here.  I would love for you to join!  You can find all the projects for the series HERE.

Okay, again so excited about this one!  You have no doubt seen all the fun subway art projects around and filling magazines.  At first I didn’t know if I was a fan, but just like everything else, it has grown on me.  I think the best part is you can personalize it rather than just buying one with generic sayings.

When I first started thinking about this challenge I knew I wanted to do a subway art t-shirt with words that describe my son.  Traits that at times drive me insane, but I know will serve him well as an adult.  I have to tell myself daily “this persistence of his, it will pay off one day”.

I originally was going to use vinyl and do a heat press treatment, but realized that didn’t fit in with the theme at all.  Plus I wanted it to look a little more on the rustic side.  So I decided hand painted was the way to go.  After the first line I realized I wasn’t going to get the look I wanted with paint alone, so I dug out the sharpies.  I love how it turned out!  No sewing, no stencils, and only took thirty minutes!  Here is the how-to:

Subway Art T-Shirt


  • shirt
  • fabric paint, or acrylic paint
  • fabric markers or sharpies (I used a fine tip and a wider one)
  • paint brushes

I started on paper writing down all the words I wanted to use, and then putting them in the order and size they would work.  It took five sheets of paper to get to this one.

Then I placed the paper inside the shirt and aligned it so the words were where I wanted them.  This acted as a guide only.  I could see through the shirt to make sure I was on the right track.

I started with the paint and brush, making his name bold with the year he was born.  I used shiny acrylic paint, because I knew it would last longer, and achieve the look I was going for.  Fabric paint will last longer, but I figure Hank will grow out of this before I have to worry about it.

Every now and then I lifted up the shirt a little to look at my paper and make sure I was on the right track.  There were a couple of times that I had to rearrange words to make them fit.  I added a star where the word didn’t stretch all the way to the end in one spot, just do what you have to to make it work.  And realize, it will not be perfect, and usually the harder you try to make it so, the more mistakes you will make.

I made some lines all uppercase and small, some all lowercase and big, just have fun with it.  There may have been one instance that I spelled a word wrong, and in that instance I may have used white acrylic paint to fix it.   After the paint dried I touched it up a bit to make the lines more crisp.

Did I mention how much I love this shirt?  Oh I do.  It was so fun to work on a more personal project for Hank, and he loves it.

It goes great with the guitar applique pants I made (tutorial here), and the denim jacket we picked up at Target for $14.00.  The shirt itself cost me $3.50 at Walmart, and I would say buy a size bigger than you think you will need.

Have you been working on things for the Challenge?  No excuses ladies, this is an easy one!  I have had so much fun with this, am thinking I need to extend it a week, and then I remember I am moving.  Hmmm.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with!  I think it would be awesome if someone with a vinyl cutter tried this with vinyl, just sayin’.

Okay two outfits down, more coming!  I have a belt coming up…sooo cute….errr, I mean cool!

Talk soon!


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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Tina September 9, 2010 at 6:43 am

You know I am SWOONING over the shirt and the jeans right? It is SO hard to find cute boy clothes, and when I do they are ridiculously expensive. Plus? This is just so personal and cute. On weekdays I hardly have time to breathe but I think I might try this shirt when the weekend rolls around….
Making a list for the craft store. The craft store makes me hyperventilate and sweat just a bit…but I will be brave!
P.S. I know you are going to help me with a Halloween costume….right? RIGHT?


Destri September 9, 2010 at 6:44 am

You know I was thinking of you when I made them right? You can so do this!! And yes, I know just what you mean. That is what launched this whole shindig. There are a few more coming up you will like so keep that list at the ready.
I have just started to think of Halloween, any ideas? I have a few, but am still undecided.
Thanks Tina, you always make my day!


Kelli September 9, 2010 at 7:03 am

This is SUCH a great shirt! I love it, and I can’t wait to make one for my little man. Thanks for the tute!!


Destri September 9, 2010 at 7:30 am

Make sure you link it up next Thursday, I would love to see it!


kim @ seven thirty three September 9, 2010 at 7:56 am

I love this! I’ve been wanting to make my own subway art for my living room…. putting it on a shirt never even crossed my mind!

Thanks for linking with What little boys are made of.


marni September 9, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Just found your blog over at 733. Super cute stuff you have here! I’m your newest follower and I would love to have you join my blog as well, if you aren’t a follower already! :) Come by tomorrow for our Feature Friday blog party! I’d love to have you there!!

xoxo Marni
@ Sassy Sites!


somedaycrafts September 9, 2010 at 1:17 pm

No Freaking Way! You are TOO creative! I like this idea more than putting it on the wall! I am featuring this today at This is genius!!!!


Michelle September 9, 2010 at 5:19 pm

You’re so clever! This is adorable and I know my kids would love it ~ wearing it and making it!


Steph September 9, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Saw you featured at Someday Crafts. LOVE this! I am so making these for my kids!


shirley September 10, 2010 at 6:56 am

Love, love, love!!


Dee September 10, 2010 at 9:23 am

I think this shirt looks so cool, especially when pared up with the jacket. However, and I know…here I go again, but I am ALWAYS concerned when I see clothing for children that has their name and any information on it that could help a stranger act as a “familiar”. There is just too much danger in todays world to put our children at risk by providing their name to strangers. Sorry…just had to say it.


Destri September 10, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Aww Dee, It’s okay, I knew it was coming! But I will a assure you, my son will not be wearing this shirt in a location that I feel it will put him in danger.
You could just omit the name and use initials, that would look great!


Casey September 10, 2010 at 9:32 pm

LOVE this idea! I think I could even do this, I’ll be hitting up Wal-Mart tomorrow morning


Emily September 12, 2010 at 7:56 am

I know several people that are having their 2nd or 3rd babies right now…I could totally see myself making big brother big sister/little brother little sister shirts using this tutorial!!


Kasey September 13, 2010 at 6:56 am

Made our own version of these over the weekend. Linked back to your post. Thanks for the inspiration! My kids love their shirts!


Destri September 13, 2010 at 7:47 am

I love how you made a template! They turned out great, thank you so much for coming to let me know!


Stacey September 14, 2010 at 6:13 am

Oh, I just know my son would feel so special wearing a shirt like this. What a great use of the subway art technique and so simple to do. I’m rushing out to get some white t’s!


jen @ tatertots and jello September 16, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Ok – that is awesome!!! I adore it. I shared it on my TT&J FB page and linked to you :)



Destri September 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Aw Jen you are the best! I was just about to shoot you an email!


Tricia October 20, 2010 at 7:31 am

Very cute. This is a great option for boys.

I’d love it if you linked up this top to my Top-toberfest show and tell. I’m celebrating shirts all week long and would love it if you joined in on the fun. Feel free to link up any other top related projects as well.



JDaniel4's Mom October 30, 2010 at 4:52 am

This post was selected one of my great posts of the week. Here is the link:


Destri October 30, 2010 at 8:33 am

Thank you!


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