DIY: Make your own Eclipse T-Shirt

This summer, our family is excited to experience the total solar eclipse (the first one in the continental United States since 1979), and we're having fun preparing! We have attended special programs at the library, we've read books, we've watched youtube videos, and now... we've made our own eclipse T-Shirts.

Tip: Read A Total Eclipse of the Sun: Kansas City’s Once-in-a-Lifetime Moment for more information to prepare for the eclipse. And, discover local Kansas City Area Eclipse Events here.

This project started when one of my girls said it would be fun to wear special shirts for the event. So, we brainstormed, asked a couple artist friends for ideas, jogged our memory using techniques for previous art projects, and came up with the following idea. We made it a family night (it took a few hours for the entire family to complete) and the girls are pretty happy with the results!

Note: My girls would like to add words to the back of the shirts, but we're still brainstorming ideas. If you have a suggestion for a technique, or wording... comment below!

Learn how to paint your very own shirt to commemorate the Great American Total Solar Eclipse!

Solar Eclipse T-Shirts



  • Black T-Shirt (Tip: we found shirts for $3 on sale at our local Michael's. I know that Hobby Lobby and Walmart have also had solid shirts on sale).
  • Fabric Paint (we used Fabric Creations soft ink paint. It was about $1/ 2fl oz 59 ml bottle.) Colors: Crimson Red, Tangerine, Real Yellow, White. (Variations of red, orange, yellow and white will work). You may need black for touch-ups.
  • Sponge brushes and thin paint brushes (watercolor brushes will work).
  • Small paper circles. We used dessert paper plates and this worked well. 
  • Tape
  • Cardboard
  • Toothbrush (an old toothbrush you want to replace or inexpensive toothbrushes work great. I purchased 6 for $1 at the Dollar Tree).
  • Newspaper or plastic tablecloth to cover work surface.

Tip: I find coupons online or via apps for our local craft stores.


Cover work space. I covered our table with an old plastic tablecloth we use for paint projects. Have the children wear paint shirts or aprons. Fabric paint is permanent (that's the idea). 

Insert a piece of cardboard into each t-shirt so the paint will not bleed through the shirt from front to back.

Decide where you want your eclipse to be on the shirt and using double-sided tape or looped tape, tape your cardboard circle or paper plate to the shirt. 

TIP: We painted a black piece of construction paper before painting the shirts as an opportunity to practice the technique once before making our design permanent.

Paint Steps:

Step 1 Stars: Lightly dip the toothbrush into a bit of white and/or yellow paint (we used a little of both). Then, with your finger tip, flick the brush so that the paint lightly splatters across the shirt creating a starry backdrop.

Step 2 Red: Using a sponge brush, lightly paint a red edge around your paper plate using the plate as a stencil. The black shirt will absorb a lot of the paint, so it may appear bright or thick when you first begin, but as the shirt dries it will look like the umbra of an eclipse. Paint out a few inches from the circle.

Step 2 Orange: Using the sponge brush, lightly paint an orange edge around the plate. Do not paint quite as far out as you did with the red.

Step 3 Yellow: Using the sponge brush, lightly paint a yellow edge around the plate. Do not paint quite as far out as you did with the orange.

Note: This is the shirt after the yellow step, before the white step.

Step 4 White: After the shirt has dried a bit (mostly dry - you may use a hair dryer to speed this up if you like. We had a snack break and that worked perfectly), verify that you're happy with the design so far. Add more color if needed. Then, once it is mostly dry, remove the plate and gently use a paint brush to paint a thin white ring where the edge of the plate was.

Step 5 Dry: Let the shirt dry overnight. Follow the wash and care instructions on the fabric paint bottle. 

Step 6 Words: We would like to paint words on the back of the shirts... but we're still brainstorming the best method and wording for this. Comment below with your ideas. With the last name of Light, we've toyed with several ways to create a play on words.... send your ideas our way.

Final Step: Wear the shirt on Aug. 21, 2017 when you are in the path of totality! Read our KC Eclipse Guide for more information and inspiration!

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