Creative Gift Ideas

Last Christmas I decided to give gifts that were a little more personal instead of just buying stuff on Amazon Prime like I usually do. I wanted the gifts to be endearing and useable at the same time — so each definitely had to be custom and fairly easy to make since I planned to give out about 15 or so. Then the perfect idea came. I'd make T-Shirts! 

For my youngest nephew I made an Alphabet board to help him learn his ABC's using something that he loves — Super Heroes!


Making It Happen (Shirts)

1. The Design. This is what took the most time because I made each design custom and vector inside Adobe Illustrator. The best lesson I learned after doing my first design and test print was this. KEEP IT SIMPLE. If you do not want borders on your final shirt, you will have to use scissors to cut the design out. My first design was so complex it became a tedious task to cut with the scissors which resulted in a few mistakes as well. So I cant stress it enough; as much as you can, use simple shapes. You will thank yourself in the end. 

2. I searched thoroughly for nice t-shirts that were more of a modern fit. Amazingly, I lucked out on an H&M sale in which I was able to get to get t-shirts for $3 a pop. At present, H&M carries blank tee’s of all colours for $4 bucks online. Of course, you could also source blank tee's from a myriad of places but H&M was right up my alley personally.


Blank cotton tees for the win

3. I purchased the Avery® 3271 Inkjet Light Fabric Transfer Paper & Avery® 3279 Inkjet Dark Fabric Transfer Paper from Staples and used them depending on the colour of the shirt. These were very user-friendly, however, the sole difference between the transfer papers is that the light transfer paper requires you to flip your design horizontally before you print it. The dark transfer paper does not. I did a bunch of designs on one transfer sheet and cut them out individually. Most of my designs were not big enough to fill a whole sheet and in the end I was left with extras in case I made a mistake. Also after testing I found that using the light transfer paper on a grey shirt for example produced interesting results. If you have white inside the trim area of your design, it will take on the colour of the shirt itself because the light paper does not heat transfer white. Use that to your advantage stylistically!


Making It Happen (Alphabet Board)

1. I found a super hero (or villain) whose first initial corresponded to each letter of the alphabet. I made a grid on an 18"x24" canvas in Adobe inDesign and began to place images I sourced from the internet in them.

2. Once I finished filling in the heroes, I sent it over to Fed Ex Office and had a print done. I sourced a 18" x 24" poster frame from Walmart and used it to house the print. The poster board's backing has options for hanging the piece and the plastic covering on the front presents the piece nicely. Just like that, my Christmas gifts were complete.

I used my design skills to create these gifts but you don't have to be a designer to do it. Anyone could fashion a version of them using a little creativity and inspiration from the same methods I used. If you have any questions feel free to contact me!