Creating smocks for my kids has been on my to-do list for a long time! Ever since I saw the Oliver + s smock pattern in the book, “Little Things to Sew,” I have wanted to make them. I got the idea to use fabric the kids designed, but then I got held up thinking of the best way to do it. When I found out Contrado, a company that prints your design onto clothing and lifestyle products, also prints designs onto fabric, I was beyond excited to try it out! I am so pleased with how these smocks turned out! They are machine washable so I can use them for arts and crafts but also out in the garden this summer. The sleeves are perfect since my kiddos are always getting paint and glue on their arms when we are crafting. Best of all, I love seeing their artwork displayed in a new way. My kids are excited to put them on, and the smocks have a creative energy to them – perfect for craft time!
Below is the complete tutorial for how I created them. We gave our kids these smocks as birthday gifts at their color-themed party and they went perfectly with the new art and craft supplies they received from family. We can’t wait to dive into some new art projects!
Supplies Needed for DIY Art Smock Created with Kid’s Artwork
- Kid’s artwork
- Photoshop or another photo editing software (optional)
- Main fabric (I had my main fabric printed by Contrado)
- Contrasting fabric (I used lightweight cotton)
- Oliver + s smock pattern found in the book “Little Things to Sew” (or another favorite smock pattern)
Step One: Create the artwork you’ll use for the main fabric with your kids! This ended up being a great project to do with my kids. I gave them blank sheets of paper and crayons and let them go crazy. My son was able to use an 8.5″x 11″ sheet of white paper, which is really ideal since I needed to scan their drawings into my computer. My daughter, who is younger, was more successful drawing on a larger sheet of paper on her easel. This meant I needed to scan her drawing in sections. This worked out fine with the method I used to create the fabric pattern (more on that in the next step!).
I told my kiddos that we were creating fabric and showed them the smock pattern. My oldest understood what we were doing and decided to use as many different colors as he could :)
Step Two: Scan the artwork onto your computer and create the fabric. You can create the actual fabric design a few different ways. Before we started this project, I checked out Contrado’s website and learned I could have fabric printed up to 59″ wide by a length of 106″. Since I knew I only needed one-yard pieces of fabric for the smocks, I knew I could create one image to cover the entire piece of fabric.
You can scan your pieces of artwork and upload it directly to Contrado’s website. This is perfect if you don’t have a program like Photoshop and your artwork already makes an amazing pattern!
You can also scan the artwork into photo editing software, like Photoshop, and create a fabric pattern out of the artwork, which is what I did. My son did three amazing drawings that I wanted to combine, so I opened all of them in Photoshop and removed the background with the Magic Eraser. I was then able to layer the drawings to create one design. I rotated and resized them to hide any signs of overlap.
For my daughter’s fabric, I did the same thing. This time I was just working with one drawing, but because she drew such wide scribbles, I decided to also overlap them so there wouldn’t be so much white space. Since I scanned her drawing onto my computer in sections, I overlapped the different sections the same way I did my son’s drawings.
Step Three: Choose your fabric and have it printed with your unique design. Once your fabric is designed, you can upload it to Contrado’s website. The site was easy to use. The hardest part was choosing a fabric! I requested a swatch book, which was extremely helpful. They have over 100 fabrics to print on so there are a lot of options. At first I was going to go with one of their waterproof options, but in the end I decided to go with the Lima Cotton Lawn. It is breathable, machine washable, and lightweight so it sits nicely over the clothes they are already wearing. It was also the perfect weight to go with my contrasting fabrics, which were lightweight cotton solids from my local quilting store.
After you select your fabric, simply pick the length and width and upload your design. If you live in the U.S., you can select United States at the bottom of the homepage before starting and the price will be listed in dollars and the fabric in inches. My fabric shipped very quickly, which was perfect since I was making these in a rush for our birthday party!
We were so excited to get our new fabrics! It was so fun to see the kid’s artwork printed on fabric! After receiving the fabrics, we headed to our favorite local quilting store to find our contrasting fabrics.
Step Four: Sew the art smock! I used the Oliver + s art smock pattern and am in love with this pattern! I love the French seams throughout, which gives the smock a nice finished look inside and out. The neck is elastic and really comfortable, and I can’t say enough good things about a smock that comes with sleeves! The kids are also big fans of the pockets, because who doesn’t love pockets!
This was the first pattern I used from this book and now I can’t wait to try some of the others! There is an adorable explorer vest and a penguin backpack that may be next on my to-do list :)
The kid’s love their art smocks and now like to wear them even when just coloring with crayons! These are definitely something I’ll hold on to long after they outgrow them. I have a few scraps of the printed fabric leftover and am determined to use every last scrap for something. The fabric really is something special. The vibrancy of the artwork translated perfectly from paper to fabric!
Next week I’ll be sharing our color-themed birthday party! It’s been a busy couple weeks and I am finally getting around to looking at all the pictures we took :)
I did not receive compensation for this blog post, however Contrado did provide the printed fabrics for this project. I only work with brands I fully support and as always, all opinions are 100% my own!
This post includes affiliate links ONLY under “Shop the supplies I used”. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.