Take a cute picture of your cat, print it on iron-on transfer paper, iron it on a t-shirt, and embellish. In an hour you’ll have a charming pet portrait, with no sewing!
Celebrate your favorite cat by wearing a t-shirt that shows off Kitty’s portrait. You can make a t-shirt for yourself or as a gift in an hour or less.
Supply List for a Cat Portrait T-Shirt
- Photo, painting, line drawing, or other image of your cat. You will need a high-quality image that can be either scanned or copied onto your computer and printed with an ink-jet printer at a fairly large size.
- A white or light colored t-shirt. (This technique works just as well on sweatshirts, too.) Choose 100% cotton or cotton blend for good adhesion of the iron-on transfer. Don’t use a shirt with deep ribbing, or the image may split apart when the shirt moves. You can transfer images to dark t-shirts with special transfer paper for dark shirts.
- 1 sheet of iron-on transfer paper.
- Photo-editing software (optional) to crop, edit, and flip the kitty image.
- Color ink-jet printer.
- (Optional) Embellishments such as ribbons, stamps, charms, or buttons.
- Ironing surface made of flat wood. A regular ironing board is not hard enough for iron-on transfers.
- Pillowcase to cover the ironing surface.
Step by Step Instructions for Making a Cat Portrait T-Shirt
It’s easy to transfer your pet’s image to a t-shirt.
- Edit the image of your cat. When you use transfer paper, the image that ends up on the t-shirt is a mirror (reversed) version of the original image. To make the cat portrait appear properly on the t-shirt, you will need to flip the image so it prints in reverse. This is especially important if your portrait includes words. Most image editing software will be able to flip the image. If not, you can reverse the image through the printer settings box on many printers. You can also edit the image to crop out sections you don’t want to include, fix flaws in the image, or change the image’s size and shape to fit the t-shirt. If your software has the capability, you can also add words or create visual effects such as giving the portrait it an old-time sepia tone.
- Test-print the cat portrait on plain paper to make sure it fits on the t-shirt before you use expensive transfer paper for the final image.
- Print the final portrait on an ink-jet printer. Let the image dry for 30 minutes before ironing.
- If needed, cut out the portrait, leaving a 1/4” edge all around the design.
- Make sure the iron is dry, with all water removed.
- Warm up the iron to the level recommended by the manufacturer.
- Cover a flat wood surface with a pillowcase and iron the pillowcase so there are no wrinkles. Lay the t-shirt on the ironing surface and iron it as well to remove any wrinkles.
- Lay the transfer on the shirt with the image side facing down.
- Iron the transfer all over, using a circular motion and applying firm pressure. Apply 15-20 seconds of heat on every part of the portrait, especially the edges.
- Gently pull the transfer paper from the t-shirt. If the paper sticks to the shirt, iron that area again until the paper comes up easily.
Your pet portrait is now ready to wear or embellish.
Embellishments Give Your Cat’s Portrait a Unique Personal Style
The most enjoyable part of making a portrait of your pet might be adding the little details that make it unique. You might try stamping paw prints or mice around the t-shirt’s hem with fabric paints, or sewing charms to the cat’s collar. You could also print another sheet of iron-on transfer paper with small cat-themed images, then cut them out and iron them onto the t-shirt around the main portrait.
The more details you add to your pet portrait, the more fun you’ll have making a unique memento of your favorite cat.