/ Thursday, July 18th, 2013

by Fran Cassano

Hi Everyone! A few months ago, a reader asked me about crafting a t-shirt for the now upcoming D23 Expo. There are SO many ways one can create one-of-a-kind t-shirts for not only D23, but for your trips to the Disney Parks and/or the Disney Cruise Line, or even if you just want a Disney shirt for every day.

A ton of generous and wildly creative Disney fans are out there Photoshopping and posting graphics, pinning graphics, Tweeting/Facebooking graphics and tumblr-ing graphics. These are the perfect digital clippings to keep in mind when creating your own shirt.

Using Disney fonts and designs will not breach copyright if they will be solely for personal use.

And just like the wide variety of Disney images available to us, there are SO many ways to craft a t-shirt. Rather than take one technique and feature it here, I thought I would share the various ways you can craft one, so you can find the right technique and look for your own personal style.

Don’t know where to start? Let’s figure out how, together!

First, do an internet search for Disney image(s). If you get stuck, perhaps these questions will help narrow your selection down:

What movie (Mary Poppins) or attraction (Haunted Mansion) do you like?

Where are you travelling (Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line)?

Who is your favorite character (The Mad Hatter)?

Do you like the literal (Mickey Mouse) or abstract (Mickey’s Silhouette)?

Do you like the icon (a rose) or the character (Belle)?

Are you cutesy (Disney Cuties) or edgy (Jack Sparrow or Maleficent)?

Are you artsy (Tie-dye, Hand sewn applique, Images like those by Noah or Simon Phipps)?

Do you want to show where you are going (Castaway Cay) or where you are from (New York)?

It is for a specific event (runDisney, Epcot Food and Wine, D23 Expo, WDW Radio Meet)?

Will you add fonts (like your name(s), date(s), event(s), location(s))?

When you select your image, make sure that it is detailed enough (if it’s a graphic for iron-on or to be uploaded) or it is not too detailed (if you are making it yourself). Make sure it is a high enough resolution to transfer (e.g. no pixelization).

But the most important thing is that the image reflects who you (or your party of people) are.

Next, crafting your shirt…

Choose among these popular methods (Before you choose a method you have never tried before, please search for instructions online or follow directions on the packaging of your supplies):

Bleach Pen: Using a bleach pen to draw or trace a character or write a quote or saying on a solid colored shirt.

Bleach Spray: Taking a solid color shirt and blocking off an image with contact paper, then lightly spritzing the shirt with bleach so that the image shows. When you peel off the contact paper, you will have your image. (Great for Mickey’s Silhouette, the Disney Parks Castle Silhouettes or shadows of the Fab Five, Peter Pan (cute, right?), the Disney Princesses or characters from Finding Nemo, etc.).

Fabric Paint/Stencil: Using fabric paint to paint either by free-hand or using a stencil to create your Disney image.PPDC On Crafting Your Own Disney TShirts

Iron-On: Printing a reverse image on iron-on transfer paper using an ink jet printer and ironing the image onto a shirt. (Remember, if you are not using a white shirt, use a transfer paper specifically for colored shirts).

Officially Licensed T-Shirts from Big Box Stores: Buying a T-shirts from a store (The Disney Store, Old Navy, Target, Hot Topic, Wal-Mart, etc.) with officially licensed Disney images. (While this isn’t really crafting, snagging these on sale can be even less money than making your own~pick up two+, so you can match one another).

Sewing Appliques (officially licensed patches or DIY cut-out patch working): Sewing a Disney image directly onto fabric either by hand or by sewing machine. (Think the fraternity jacket in Monsters University).

Tie-Dyed Mickey: Either a DIY or even sometimes offered during Resort activities (like an afternoon at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn).

Uploading Images to a Photo or Promotional Marketing Website: Uploading your own Disney photos or graphics to photo sites (like Snapfish, Shutterfly), superstore/pharmacy photography (CVS, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Target, Rite Aid) or a promotional marketing site (like Vistaprint) and ordering a T-shirt directly from them. (This is how I made the shirt in the photo you see here and they can be even less money than making your own).

Using a Personalization Site with Pre-Selected Images: Ordering a T-shirt from a site (like Zazzle, Café Press, or The Disney Store’s Personalized Shop) with officially licensed Disney images. (These sites will not print images that are not cleared by Disney themselves).

So, play around with different graphics and methods to make the shirts that you are most comfortable with. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be you!

What will your t-shirt look like? Come find me at the D23 Expo and show it off!


Happy Crafting!


For Fran Cassano, paper crafts have kept the magic of Disney a part of her everyday life. Fran invites us capture our own memories through Practically Perfect DISNEY Crafting… Break out the tools that have been gathering dust. And let’s figure out how, together!



5 thoughts on “Practically Perfect DISNEY Techniques: On Crafting Your Own Disney T-Shirts”

  1. Monique says:

    Fran, I have done that each time I have gone to Disney no matter what the occasion. This year we get the privelage to go to D23 and I will be making a few shirts for that and for the day we finally get to go to Disneyland for the first time. ;D

    I primarily have done the painting with acrylic and acrylic thinner directly on the tshirts and the iron ons. The only issue I have is I need to find a better Iron on brand. Can anyone give me a suggestion for one?

  2. Fran Cassano says:

    Hi Monique!

    OK, from what I gather, the highest rated brand seems to be Printed Treasures, but it can be very pricey. Keep in mind that the iron on papers are made for ink jet printers, so I do not know how they would rate as far as you doing your acrylic work directly on there.

    I am really intrigued by that idea! So please find me at the Expo. I would love to see your amazing sounding shirts!

  3. Monique says:

    Fran, if I was able to post pictures through here I would (as I have at least 5 or six different shirts not including the three new ones being created for this next trip). There is one design that I have to do by hand because I can’t get anyone to print a shirt that will have the full tshirt graphic on it. 🙁 But those that I have done with Iron ons wear out.

  4. Fran Cassano says:


    While I can’t really promote a specific company, why don’t you take a look at the examples I listed under “Uploading Images to a Photo or Promotional Marketing Website”. When I ordered mine, my “I [Mickey] NY” covers the full front of the t-shirt.

    I hope that helps. I’m not too sure what else to suggest. But do let me know how you make out with them when completed.

  5. Steamboat Eddie says:

    It’s awesome seeing groups at WDW with the homemade t-shirts designs.

    Later on.