I am a fan of impromptu, on the spot crafts: stumbling upon the kids in a moment when they have an idea and running with it, catching them when they are immersed with an object, material, task and extending that moment as they are ready to move on. Another one of those magical moments have been evening crafts (the pillow-talk equivalent of making things). It's often Lias who sneaks out after his brother has fallen asleep (they still always sleep in the same bed). I usually love it as it gives us this precious time that is not interrupted, spoken for or otherwise busy. This is also how our latest craft "printing textiles with sandpaper and crayon" started. I was sorting t-shirts with stains as well as unloved ones when Lias came down. He wanted to keep the t-shirts (I am a purger my oldest son is a keeper) so we sewed a panel onto a few to cover stains or prints we didn't like and the of the short project just appeared. So super simple --that you can even squeeze into an already late night--.

Sandpaper printing technique

All you need is:

  • Wax crayons
  • Sandpaper (we used the coarse type (80 grid) for extra texture but also tried fine sandpaper and it worked as well)
  • A T-shirt or other fabric piece
  • Parchment paper, newspaper or some other barrier for between the two sides of the garment
  • An iron.
  • Use crayons to draw the design you would like to print on the t-shirt directly onto the sandpaper. If you use letters or numbers, keep in mind that the motif will later be mirrored on the t-shirt. If you want well saturated colours make sure to cover the areas well (great way to use up those broken pieces of crayon...you'll go through them quickly).
  • Place the sandpaper on the "shirt" face down. Place a piece of cardboard or other paper under the fabric at the point where you want to apply the design to prevent the wax from bleed onto to backside of your garment.
  • Iron the design onto the shirt. Hot is a good idea. Carefully check that the transfer worked well. Remove the sandpaper (we used ours again without the pervious colours showing up). Place a thirsty paper (newspaper, craft paper just not the super glossy type) onto you design and iron again to draw out any access wax. Done!
Our iron was set on cotton and Lias slowly moved it acorss the sandpaper. If you're worried about stains on your iron you could place a piece of paper of farbic between the sandpaper and the iron. 

We washed ours already and it looks great. Colours may fas over time. But me guess is the kids will outgrow their shirt before such day.
To maximize the setting of the colour you can also tumble dry the fabric for a few minutes...

We ♥️ this sandpaper-crayon way of transferring drawings to fabric... and there are endless options:

Other options


...In addition to t-shirts you could use tote bags, cushion covers, curtains or large pieces of fabric for colourful wall hangings.
...Instead of drawing the shapes onto your sandpaper just cover a swatch of sandpaper with colours of your choice and cut it into shapes after (hearts, letters, numbers, rectangles, triangles, animal shapes...). Arrange them on your garment before ironing them on.
...You could also grate crayons:

  • Use a (cheese) grater to grate your crayons and collect the crumbs in a bowl.
  • Place a piece of cardboard under the area of ​​the t-shirt that you want to add the design to. Smooth out the T-shirt and fix it to the cardboard with clips, or tape or just a good tug.
  • Make a template, e.g. by printing out a design on a sheet of paper and cutting it out. Aka cut out a negative/stencil.
  • Place the stencil on the shirt and spread the crumbs of wax on it
  • Place a sheet of baking paper, newspaper or something like this on top and iron the design onto the T-shirt.
If you use letters or numbers, keep in mind that the motif will later be mirrored on the t-shirt. 
Here we cut hearts our of sandpaper we had drawn on before. 
And the bare bones version :)

I would love to see your crayon and sandpaper creations!