Custom Pet Tee

I saw some super-cute pet tees at Mini Boden and decided to make some of our own with a photo of our cat Kiki.

The hardest part of this project was getting the cat to pose. I used Photoshop to edit the pictures, but perhaps you could use another free photo program? I looked at a couple of tutorials for extracting an image from a background here and here. Then I brightened up the photo, desaturated it, added some color and flipped it to print in mirror image. I printed the image on iron-on transfer paper (available at office supply stores), pressed it onto the fabric and voilà — a custom pet tee! I’m thinking of embroidering around the edge, maybe with some silver thread on the one above since this is my glamour girl. And they would definitely be cute worn over striped tees like the Mini Boden shirts.

Here’s the other one that I made for my older daughter. The kids picked out the colors and the pose. And of course this kid wouldn’t model for me. She’s apparently seven going on seventeen. Such attitude, but I think she actually likes the shirt.

Here’s the progression of the images:

31 Replies to “Custom Pet Tee”

  1. Yours are way cuter than the mini boden version! My kids would love these. I bet even my teen boys would love pictures of their big fat dorky looking cat on a black tshirt. Wonder if it would look weird inverted to white?

  2. Another splendid idea from thelongthread! My 12 yr. old daughter is very domestic and longs to spend time being crafty, etc. with her momma. Thanks for supplying so many great ways to make this possible! Your girls are very blessed to have you!
    Mary Grace

  3. This is SO COOL!!! If I hadn’t just done an inventory of my 6-year-old daughter’s shirts and realized that she currently owns more than 30 short-sleeved t-shirts (thanks, grandma…) I’d be running out today to get the iron-on transfer. Of course, one day she’ll outgrow her 30 shirts, right? I’m filing this idea away for that day!!

    I linked to your tutorial over on Craft Gossip Sewing:


  4. Oh my gosh, I love it! It’s hilarious. My husband would kill me if I wore a picture of our cat on my chest. (He’s a dog person.) 🙂

  5. This is great! I did one of my dog after she died. She was a white maltese and I wanted to put her face on a white tee. I was having problems not making her look pink. I took my photo to Kinko’s and they printed the transfer and pressed it on for me. It is another option.

  6. Yes, home printers don’t print white. So if you don’t want a colored tint to your design or want it to just be transparent in the white parts, you’ll need to have it professionally printed.

  7. Thanks for the great idea! I’ve been seeing these types of tees everywhere. I made one for my daughter this morning. She is so excited about it that she will probably wear it for three days straight. I didn’t bother with eliminating the background of the image, rather I just trimmed the background away with scissors after printing–I find this much easier than messing with the image in Photoshop.

  8. Really fabulous. I’ll be making these for Christmas gifts. Yeah–first gift idea of the year!
    Is there anything special I need to look for when purchasing the transfer paper so that the shirt is washable?
    Thanks for sharing such a great idea.

  9. Hi, I’m guessing the transfer paper works by fusing the paper with the image on it onto the fabric. Is there any way of only transferring the ink only so it looks more like a silk screen print (or am I barking, sorry, miaowing, up the wrong tree?).
    Cheers, Lyndsa

  10. Aside from making a screenprint or using some other printing/stenciling method, I think not. I do have some tips.

    1) I cut as close to the image as possible.

    2) I hate the shiny look of the transfer paper, so after I peel off the transfer paper and the tee is still hot, I use a piece of plain cotton woven fabric and press it over the top. This leaves the impression of the weave of the fabric and makes it have a more matte finish, leaving a very slight bit of texture.

  11. awww! This is super cute! I totally want a shirt with my kitty on it! Would it be absolutely horrible to make my cat a shirt with my face on it? LOL!

  12. Thanks for the great idea! Just finished up a batch of these for my niece and nephews. It gave me a chance to learn some new Photoshop skills too!

  13. I’ve had this bookmarked forever and finally made two of them for my daughter. They turned out ridiculously cute! Thank you for sharing.

  14. I was at a festival and they made a shirts like this. I did one for one of my dogs who is now no longer alive. I still kept the shirt because the my dog meant so much to me. I have 3 dogs now and I will use your idea to create a shirt this with their picture. Thank you for educating me on how to make a shirt like this.

  15. this is soo cool! i love it.
    i have a question though, how did you make the ironon soo thin.
    most of the ones i buy are soo thick that they look cheap or even look taped on. :/

  16. Love this! To save on ink, you could always use freezer paper to transfer your image OR (even better) make a stencil out of your freezer/wax paper and paint it! This would allow you to use white, but would also cut out any of the details you didn’t cut out. Fun idea!

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