My son, Rowan, is starting pre-school next week, and I CANNOT BELIEVE IT. Ok, it’s not really pre-school since he’s only two-years-old….it’s actually a Mother’s Morning Out program at a church that is only two days a week for half a day. But still! He needs a backpack and lunch box and other school supplies, so for all intents and purposes, Mommy here is considering it to be his very first day of school….waaaaa! :*(
Y’all know me and how I love my keepsakes, especially for my little man (my Project Gallery is filled with them), so I of course just had to create a keepsake for Rowan’s back-to-school days!
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Yearly Back-to-School Shirt with Handprints for Every Grade!
I’ve seen pins floating around Pinterest showing kiddos in an over-sized shirt that has their high school graduation year on the front that they wear for a picture at the beginning of each school year, and I thought that would be a fun and easy tradition for our family to start.
Well, I wanted to take that idea one step further though and put my own spin on it. Instead of just taking Rowan’s picture while wearing the shirt, I thought it would also be fun to get his handprint on the back each year as well. That way we’ll not only be able to document his growth each year based on how he starts to fill out the shirt, but we’ll also have his growing handprints on the back. I know….so sweet and sentimental! For me, at least. ;)
- Large Men’s white t-shirt
- Black heat transfer vinyl (HTV)
- Silhouette Cameo & 12″ x 24″ cutting mat
- Multi use paper (to apply the HTV)
- Flattened cardboard boxes
- Craft paint & foam brush
**NOTE: If you don’t have a Silhouette or a fancy cutting machine, no worries! You can buy iron-on letters from just about any craft store!
I bought a plain white men’s t-shirt from Target in size large to accommodate future high school teenage Rowan. I also decided to add all the wording using black HTV instead of stenciling it on with fabric paint.
This was not only because I’m obsessed with my Silhouette Cameo, but also because I can easily remove/reapply the HTV in the highly unlikely event of Rowan skipping a grade or (lawd help me) him getting held back. I can just sizzle the HTV away with the tip of my hot iron and make any adjustments as necessary.
I first did the math and figured out when Rowan should be graduating from high school in order to add his class year to the front. I also had my husband double-check me, so if it’s wrong, blame him!
I then created all my elements in Silhouette Studio and flipped them horizontally since I’d be cutting them out in HTV, which gets cut on the back.
Next, I finalized my Silhouette‘s cut settings. I used the default Heat Transfer Material: Smooth settings, except I bumped the speed down a bit since I had a lot of small, intricate cuts:
- Blade: 2
- Speed: 5
- Thickness: 4
Cutting The HTV
Next up, I pulled out my handy dandy vinyl storage organizer and found a sheet of black HTV. I then placed it shiny side down onto my 12″ x 24″ cutting mat and loaded it into my Silhouette Cameo, then hit ‘Cut’ in Silhouette Studio….a few minutes later I had all my pieces!
I trimmed up all the pieces then weeded (or removed) all the excess vinyl….and placed the tiny pieces on my laptop for easy maneuverability.
Applying the HTV
I don’t have a fancy shmancy heat press yet, so I’d be applying the HTV with my regular household iron. I’m also lazy and hate dragging out our ironing board, so this project would be completed on our dining room/craft room table….this is why you’ll notice the cardboard under the shirt.
I first pre-heated my iron to the Cotton setting, then ran it over the shirt to remove all wrinkles and any moisture. Then I eye-balled the HTV’s placement….ain’t nobody got time for measuring!
For previous HTV projects, I’ve used a spare cloth (usually a pillow case or old t-shirt of my husband’s), and it’s worked just fine, but it does seem to take several minutes and passes with my iron to get good adhesion.
However, this time I decided to test out some multi use paper from Siser that is specifically designed for applying HTV…I think it’s really for doing multiple layers of HTV, but I was going to give it a go with just a single layer here because why not.
So, I laid the freezer paper-esque sheet shiny side down over top the HTV then started pressing it with my hot iron. Just a couple seconds at a time was all it took for the HTV to become applied to the shirt…..now I swear by this multi use paper! Super fast and easy to apply HTV….right up my alley.
I then repeated the process for all the pieces on the back. Same thing here too….no measuring was done. All the placements were eye-balled because good enough is good enough for me. I also placed a small flattened cardboard box inside the top of the shirt to protect the HTV I had just applied to the front from the iron’s heat.
The multi use paper worked like a charm on this side too!
Getting Rowan’s Handprint
The next morning after breakfast, I kept the small cardboard box inside the shirt (to make sure no paint bled through to the front) then got to applying the blue craft paint onto Rowan’s cute little hand. I just smeared on a small amount with a foam brush then (with Daddy’s assistance) pushed the blue print underneath the Pre-K (2 Year) spot (Rowan’s in the two-year-old class this year….fifteen two-year-olds together….bless his teachers!).
I was a little nervous that Rowan would be temperamental and toddlery during this step since he HATES getting his hands dirty (which made our recent second-birthday art canvas a little….interesting), but he was actually totally cool with it. Maybe he enjoyed looking a little like his buddy Cookie Monster for a bit.
Dad did a good job talking him through it by saying things like “This isn’t for you, son. This is for your neurotic mother, so just do what she wants and everyone will be happy.” Happy Wife (and Mom), Happy Life. :)
And sorry for no good pics of this step! Like I mentioned, wrangling a tot for a keepsake art project is a two-person job.
Rowan’s Finished Yearly Back-to-School Shirt with Handprints!
And here’s Rowan’s back-to-school keepsake shirt! Seeing that 2031 sure makes me feel old, but it will be fun to pull this shirt out of Rowan’s closet each year and add his handprint to the back before taking his annual pic.
I love documenting his growth (just like I did with his monthly baby photos), so this is just one more special keepsake to cherish….and maybe also shed a few tears over at how fast he’s growing. *sniffle*
And oh, that little handprint! I plan on doing each year in a different color (which is why I stuck with a white shirt and black wording), and I’m sure it’ll be a tight fit getting all his teenage handprints on there. But, we’ll just have to squeeze them in.
How adorable is he in this super baggy man’s shirt showcasing his graduation year?!? I mean, seriously. He was a good sport for our photoshoot too, although he was a little confused….“Ummm Mom, this doesn’t fit.”
I’m sure he won’t be very enthusiastic come middle and especially high school….“God Mom, this is so stupid! I’m not a little kid anymore! *Grumble Grumble Grumble*” I’ll just respond with something like “You’re still my baby….so put on the damn shirt! And SMILE!!” ;)
This little keepsake shirt will be so fun to display at Rowan’s graduation party….and I’m sure his future wife will appreciate it too. :)
***Year 2 Update!***
Well, it’s now almost time for Rowan to start his next school year (this time in the big 3-year-old class), so we of course had to update his shirt with his older handprint….and snap lots of adorable pictures. You can check out our Year 2 Update here!
***Year 3 Update!***
And here’s Rowan’s Year 3 Update!
Other Back-To-School Goodies
Also, don’t forget to check out the chalkboard sign I made for Rowan’s first day of school photos!
And I also personalized an art smock for him too!
And here are some simple yet effective tips to make your kiddo’s back-to-school bedtime routine a breeze!
More Silhouette Fun!
I’ve also shared a bunch of FREE Silhouette cut files….maybe you’ll find something to help get your craft on!
Thanks so much for stopping by!