5 Ways Your Kids Can Customize Their Clothes

Posted by on Sep 14, 2022

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Pexels / Anastasia Shuraeva


Looking for a way to let your kid express their unique personalities through clothing? In this post, we’ll discuss five ways kids can customize their outfits. There are many possibilities, including adding patches, dyeing the material and more. Let your kids have fun with their wardrobe and stand out in school.


You don’t need to be a gifted artist to paint on clothes. Plenty can be done with tracing and stencils. To start, you’ll need fabric paint instead of acrylic or oil. Fabric paint is made to withstand washing. They tend to be about the same price as oil and acrylic, so you’re not saving much money by opting for one over the other. The brushes are also typically the same as what’s used in traditional painting, although you want to take into account the type of designs you’re making. You’ll need finer brushes for detail work and thicker brushes to cover larger areas. You may also want to pick up some sponges to fill in any notable spaces. 

What kind of fabrics make the best canvases? Natural ones that soak up paint, such as as cotton, tend to work better. Denim jeans and cotton T-shirts are both popular choices. Particularly smooth fabrics, like poplin, make painting easier. If you’re going to paint on a T-shirt, keep in mind that the surface isn’t very smooth, so painting with a lot of detail can be tough. 

When you’re starting out, you’ll want to make the material as taught as possible. If you’re painting on a T-shirt, put a rectangular piece of cardboard underneath the area where you’ll be painting and clip the material to the edges to ensure the area won’t move with your brushstrokes. 

Inexperienced painters should probably use stencils and trace drawing to ensure a better finish. You can then transition to images or letters with gradients and 2-D pictures. If you want to create more complex pictures, you’ll likely need to study formal painting. Need to fix a fabric image? Iron on the opposite side of the painting to loosen the material, then you either scrape off of the paint or tweak it as you see fit.


You can use bleach to customize your clothes in ways you probably don’t realize. Many people create designs on jeans and other clothing with a bleach pen, but the ideas suggested by Simply Sallie are a little more in depth. Before you start, keep in mind. that you’ll want a peroxide bath ready to stop the bleach processing and rubber gloves to protect your hands. You’ll probably also want to do most of these bleach customization techniques outside so you don’t need to huff the bleach fumes and hurt your lungs. 

Did you know you can do tie-dye with bleach. Actually these techniques, don’t include a lot of tying. (If you want to learn how to tie dye the traditional way, there are several tutorials.) First, get your shirt wet, ring it out, lay it flat. Then twist it into a circle (watch the above video by Simply Sallie for technique). Using a squirt bottle, cover half or a section of the shirt with bleach and let it process to get a color tone you like. Then do it again on the back. 

Once both sides are at a tone you like, ring out the shirt and stop the processing with a peroxide bath. You can also do a similar tie-dye approach by scrunching up the shirt. 

The Side Ombre method, popular on TikTok, entails creating a sash of bleach from the shoulder to the waist. You’ll need to put a cardboard underneath your T-shirt and use a spray bottle to create a thick diagonal line across the shirt. You can also accent it with bleach drips and dots. Once it’s set, turn it over and mirror the image on the back. 

You can use a lot of materials to dab bleach on shirts such as a loofa. In this technique, you soak a plastic loofa in a bowl of bleach and then pat it onto the material. The end result kind of looks like watercolor flowers, depending on the color of the material and shape of the loofa. Definitely find a sponge or loofa with the right shape. For more bleaching ideas, check out Sallie’s vid.

Dyeing Clothes

Dyeing may be one of the oldest and most common clothes customization techniques, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great — particularly if you an interesting color. Lately, greens, browns and other earth tones have been popular clothes choices that you can add to your wardrobe with the right bottle. You can also go with fluorescent yellow or pink for an eye-catching 80s flashback style. Giving clothes a new color can be a great way to cover up stains or just a new look. 

If you’ve never dyed clothing (or even if you have) follow the directions on the bottle. Don’t forget the rubber gloves. You don’t want dye on your skin, for a lot of reasons. It typically requires hot water, salt and a couple of other ingredients. Make sure that all parts of the clothing are evenly exposed to the dye. Patience is not just a virtue, but a necessity when it comes to dyeing clothes to make sure the color sets into the material.


Iron-on transfers were huge in the ‘70s and they continue to cycle back into fashion trends in new and different ways.You used to have to go to a T-shirt shop to get an iron-on. Now, you can get fabric transfer paper at just about any Staples or other big box store with a crafts section. As long as you have an ink-jet printer that will accept the paper, you’re good to go. 

Be mindful that some of the papers are made for light fabrics and others for dark. Depending on where your transfer will be going, you should purchase appropriately. 

Once you’ve chosen an image, you’ll need to flip it horizontally in Photoshop or a similar program so the image is reversed when it prints. This can be done in most photo programs, you just need to know where to look. 

After you print out the image, you’ll need to cut away the extra transfer material. Depending on how closely you want to cut out the transfer (for example, if the image is lettering), you may want to use an Xacto knife to trim out the the tight corners.

Easy Embroidery

Embroidery can be time-consuming, detail oriented work. But not all embroidered designs have to be. In the above video, Lia Griffith demonstrates that you can make cute and stylish embroidered designs on your clothing even when you’re a beginner sewist looking for a fun activity. You’ll need a small embroidery loop, floss, iron, tear away stabilizer, ironing board and some scissors. First you print out the design. Griffith offers plant images for free at her site, but you can choose one that you want. Then you need to trace the lines of the image with a transfer pencil and iron the image onto your shirt or pants. 

In the video, Griffith demonstrates how to set up an embroidery loop and line it up underneath the design to be sewed. Good embroidery stitches tend to be very even. They don’t necessarily need to be tiny, but they should be close to the same size. Thread the floss through your needle and carefully follow the design. Once the design is completely sewn, you detach the loop from the shirt and cut away the transfer paper.

Custom Patches

Patches are an easy way to add a personal accent to jeans or a shirt. Start with some denim scraps big enough to include your image. Trace your image of choice on the back of the image. Definitely keep that image simple if you’re just starting out. Cut the image out from the rest of he denim. Paint in the image. You can use fabric paint or acrylic, whatever you have on hand. If you don’t have paints, you can also use Sharpies or even embroidery the image. 

When the image is dry, trace the outside a piece of felt, which will be used as the backing. Then hot glue the felt backing onto the demin. Trim off any extra felt that’s showing. Keep the gun hot to glue down safety pins to the back of the patches. You only want to glue down the cap side of the safety pin, not the sharp side that goes into another piece of fabric. Finally a second layer of shaped fabric is added to underneath the pin layer. You need to cut out a space for the head of the safety pin to ensure the second denim backing fits well.

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