T-Shirt Stenciling

Clara has been a bag of emotions this past month.

I would chalk it up to teething (which some of it is)….and being sick (she and I had horrible stuffy colds this weekend)….and randomly waking up in the middle of the night for hours and pretending it’s play time in her crib (UGGGGGH), but it’s more than that.

She’s starting to throw little tantrums.  The kind of tantrums that you can’t really reason with or give a time-out for because she’s too young to understand.  Simply changing her diaper is a pure battle of wills and often strength.  And she’s totally perfecting the fake cry.  At 14 months!  Oh Clara.

I know. I’m being over-dramatic.  She’s just your run-of-the-mill kid and you’d think that after having two kids already I’d remember how it all works.  But somehow our brain forgets.
And that’s how we get pregnant.

To save my sanity I decided to give myself a visual pep-talk, and tackled a sewing project.

I was inspired by this post on One Little Minute where Miranda created a cool piece of fabric art to hang over her bed (and has some cool stop-motion photos to go along. You gotta check it out).  So I did a little spin on the Keep Calm and Carry On craze and went back to good old Bobby McFerrin:
In every life we have some trouble.
When you worry, you make it double.

I’m hoping the lyrics rub off on me.
Maybe they’ll rub off on you too (or you’ll have that blasted song stuck in your head all day. Sorry).

I made the shirt from a women’s tee and based it on the Basic Tee pattern and tutorial (creating a smaller size using one of her other shirts for sizing)

Shirt front, Shirt back, two sleeves, and a collar, ready to sew:

But before sewing, I added the phrase.  I was inspired my Miranda’s font as well and decided to hand-letter the words…something I haven’t done forever and really love to do.  If you’d like to use my letters for your own project, download and print it HERE.  I traced the words to Freezer paper (check out my full tutorial on Freezer Paper stenciling HERE).  I prefer printing to Freezer Paper, rather than tracing, but my printer was being emotional as well.  Then I cut it all out with a craft knife,

….ironed one set of words to the front, one set to the back, painted with Tulip brand, fabric paint, dried it with my blow-dryer, peeled it off, and…

Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

I paired it with knit shorts from Target and a scrappy headband and the happy Clara was set.

I know it seems silly.
But I’m truly hoping the shirt makes me laugh.  And helps me roll with the punches of mom-life.  Because each stage has its different challenges.  I might need to make this every year.
When life throws you lighting-bolts,

Find the sunshine.

And try to be happy that no matter who wakes up in the middle of the night….this one:

Or this one:

I’m lucky to be her mom.  And wouldn’t trade these moments for anything.

Okay, break.
Go team. Go.
You can make it through your day too…

And if you want all sorts of inspiration, check out the current Kids Clothes Week on Elsie Marley. I’m adding this as my meager contribution for the season.

  1. This is so cute! I love it! Such a fun idea 🙂

  2. I love it Dana!! You rocked this one. I love how you always come up with projects that don’t make your readers feel like they need a bunch of gadgets or to be super sewing savvy: women’s t shirt+freezer paper+free pattern. Love it. Thanks!!

    And I’m with you about the sanity thing. I have been on a (lovely but still) field trip with 4 and 5 year olds all day, just got them in bed and thought, “I want to go cut some fabric.” And off I go to do just that. 🙂

    • She is so cute! I have an 8 month old, my fourth, who is throwng tiny adorable tantrums. I don’t think my other children started that early. 🙂

  3. Love your honesty. And love this sweet T-shirt. Keep on Keeping on, fellow mama!

  4. I totally understand the whole sewing for your sanity thing. I have been struggling all day to get to my machine and it just isn’t happening for me. There is always tomorrow when the kids are in school. Love the tee! It’s super cute.

  5. 6) Carina

    Dana, I love You!!!
    I went through the same as you!

  6. 7) kelly

    I love that idea! I had my 3 children all close together so our home is pretty chaotic at times. My 9 month old still wakes up 3 or more times at night, so I think both she and I need to wear one of those shirts!

  7. 8) Jenny

    My printer gets emotional too. LOL. This is darling.

  8. Dana, thanks for sharing this pick me up project. I am totally with you on parenting a toddler. Raising my 16-month old boy is full of up and down, I am sure yours is just going through a phase, it’ll be sunny again soon.

  9. 10) Leigh Anne

    My 3rd little one went thru that same thing at that same age! It was terrible! Later, I decided it was teething. But when you are going thru it, it seems like it will never end. I was actually afraid her personality was changing and that she was losing her happy disposition. But, after about 2 mos, she evened out and returned to her happy self. Hang in there! The shirt is fantastic! I need one for each day of the week 😉

  10. Ah yes… My almost 2 year old has suddenly gotten so emotional too! He’ll just break down in the middle of the store and went from being super independent to wanting me to hold him all the time. I think it’s my expanding belly and he can sense another baby is coming soon and gonna rock his world but it is quite stressful at times! Maybe I’ll make him one of these shirts!!

  11. Love the project. My little girl is 3 months now and I think she might need a onesie that says “Sometimes I’m Cranky” just to remind myself that sometimes babies cry and it’s not my fault.

  12. oh clara sounds just like my ivy! she’s 15 months and has been throwing tantrums for ages already, and she, also, has a fake cry! crazy! she is my first daughter after three sons and, oh, the emotions she has already, and, oh, how she knows what she wants and will stop at nothing till she has it! so fun, but so exhausting. thankfully she DID sleep through the night last night, for the first time since around Christmas it feels like. hope you get some sleep too, and clara is darling.

  13. 15) Marie

    Oh yes, know what you’re talking about, my third boy 14 months as well is the same lately… (he’s born the 15th of February :-)) Days can be really tuff with 3 little boys in the house, so I really like your idea haha! We just have to take a deep breath, remember that everything is a fase and continue the good job we’re doing ;-)!

  14. 16) Cristi

    I could have used this a few months ago! My almost 8 month old daughter barely started sleeping through the night a month ago. Before that it was to bed by 4 or 5 in the morning and sleep until noon. So at least she was sleeping, but with that schedule I got nothing done and no sleep because of the 4 year old waking me up. I feel like I missed the sweet little newborn phase because I was so tired and grumpy. There were alot of nights I cried, not sure why, maybe sheer exhaustion. I’ve decided every phase has pros and cons and I just need to enjoy each one because when it’s gone, it’s gone.

    Thanks for the perspective.

  15. 17) Sharon

    LOL!! thanks for the inspiration and encouragement! i totally know what you mean by forgetting how this stage is even after 2 kids. i think i’m on the same track as you with a 5 year old, 3 year old, and 1 year old…maybe yours are further apart but still same crazy challenges. i especially love how you said ” and that’s how we get pregnant.” lol!! i wouldn’t know how to handle 4 kids this close in age but hey, if God wills it, why not?? oh man…did i just say that? anyway, you’re doing a great job, mama! keep it up! 😉

  16. ahh, teeth and tantrums. Totally feel ya. Mine turns 1 on Friday, and we’re doing both right now. 🙂 I love the shirt.

  17. 19) Anne

    Thanks Dana! Such a good idea! The link to get your cute font doesn’t work, could you please share it?

  18. My little guy too! (He’s 15 months.) So much whining during the day that I can’t even stand to have the TV on when hubby gets home. Too much noise. 🙂

    I love this. Maybe across the legs of his shorts that I just had to rip the pocket out of because I sewed it together backwards the first time? 😉 Thank you for sharing. You brightened my day 🙂

  19. My baby is almost 4 and he still has unreasonable tantrums…sigh and I blame it on being strong willed, which can be a good thing at least that is what I try to focus on :o)
    Keep on keeping on mama!

  20. 22) RaeLyn

    Oh, thank you Dana. You have no idea the “happy” thoughts you brighten my day with. I’ve thought about you a lot since you mentioned you were building a house. I wish you the best of luck. We are almost done building ours It’s an exhausting affair, but pretty awesome too.

  21. I HEAR YOU!!!! My daughter is 15 months and doing the same exact thing!!!!! I just called my mom yesterday in tears over it because some days that baby will NOT stop crying! She’s also teething, also suffering from allergies/stuffy nose etc. but some days she’s fine and others she is just a screaming hollering mess following me around and grabbing me! I totally feel your pain!!!!! (Cute t-shirt, too!)

  22. I made two for my little girl. One said “I missed the memo” because we’d always joke that she missed the memo on stuff like sleeping all night as opposed to getting up every hour! She had another one that said Calamity Jane. Her “go-by” name is Janey Kate but a friend nicknamed her Calamity Jane before birth and we discovered it fit her baby self! Both of those just made me laugh. We love her dearly and would have her no other way than herself so we might as well roll with it! oh and when she outgrew those and was finally sleeping all night she got a Zany Kate!

  23. Ah that’s awesome! Hmm… watch out for that number three… I think they learn from their siblings then times it all by about three!! Very, very lucky that they’re cute.

  24. yeah… i’m with you sister. my daughter (first kiddo) is 13 months and… i’m feeling you. BIG TIME. so glad she’s mine… BUT its a challenge for sure.

    thanks for the reminder that this too shall pass… and to ride this wave… soon it’ll be over.

  25. I honestly forget how EASY it is to make cute things with freezer paper. why do I always forget!?

  26. Awesome shirt. I need to do more freezer paper stenciling. And I’m with you on the crazy baby front. For me, the 12-18 month stage is the WORST! It is tricky, because they are so freaking cute and sweet, and so very frustrating and nutty at the same time (or like alternating in 5 minute increments). It must be really difficult to be a toddler. They are discovering a new independence, but are still quite limited, have lots of needs/desires and can’t communicate. I try to remind myself that my girl is probably just as frustrated as I am! 🙂

  27. 29) AnnaPK

    I sew for sanity too. 🙂 FYI, I am convinced 3rd children are all evil geniuses. I have 3 and the youngest (21months) is a doozy! We are tired, they are toddlers and they have older siblings to teach them how to do it and do it big! 😉

  28. 30) Rachel

    You are the best! Love her little outfit… Maybe that should be our school’s shirt next year! 🙂

  29. 31) Jackie

    Mom cheer…Go! Fight! Win! 🙂

  30. 32) Amy

    Suddenly hates diaper changes, up at night, cranky, bad cold last weekend– Sounds like an ear infection in the works.

    Such awesome sewing!

  31. really cute!
    and don’t worry, every little drama queen eventually ends up being a genuine queen 😉

  32. 34) Tammie

    Thank-you so much! I have discovered your blog over the last month and have been SO inspired. However, this t-shirt seriously hit a chord! My daughter is now coming up to 3 and I have to say it is all getting easier on the tantrum front, but I remember reflecting on New Years Eve that I had to try and enjoy what I was learning from her seriously outrageous behaviour and not wish away these precious years. I think I will have to try and make one of these t-shirts asap! Thanks and good luck.

  33. 35) crys

    I needed this today, goodness my two year old is trying to kill me 🙂

  34. 36) Emily

    I feel your pain! My three-year old has been a tantrum-a-minute lately. It’s exhausting.
    My kids had a onesie when they were just learning to walk that said ‘Here comes Trouble’. It made me laugh every time… right before I took them down off the couch for the hundredth time of the day.

    Love the tee, thanks for the laugh!

  35. 37) Lori

    My youngest was the same way…he’d cry and cry over abslutely nothing. Made me CAH-RAZY! He’s almost 4 now and that is (mostly) in the past. But if you want a good laugh, check out “Reasons my son is crying.” All parents can relate, and you have to laugh when you see the pictures.

  36. After waking up a couple times with a cranky kid last night, I needed this! Thanks!

  37. haha… loved this post. Our forgetfulness is definitely a blessing. 😉

    Cute T-shirt. I hope Clara starts sleeping through the night again!

  38. 41) Melinda

    Maybe Clara needs to learn to talk.. She has the walking down. When she’s in happy girl mode, try a few ma ma ma or ba ba ba. Mix it up Mama, out smart her, challenge her to learn something new!

  39. Although I’m a no sew, I sure can relate! I’ll bake myself happy when I need the boost! And as mom of a fine teenager, although fine.. Still a teen… A little bit of saved sanity and feeling of accomplishment is mighty valuable!!

  40. Doing 2 shirts for my kids! Thank you for the templete… Good luck. Me and the kids are sick and the 2 year old has been home from school. Weve all got cabin fever and tired of tv!

  41. Hi! I have a little guy about Clara’s age, and I have been using a product, such a simple thing, but has TOTALLY made a difference with diaper changing. The Huggies Slip On Diapers – slip them on like undies and they’re off and running. I was having these ridiculous wrestling matches with my 14 month old and these really helped. Sorry for the product plug, but they really did make my life easier. Easier = better. 😉

  42. Awwww! First of all a huge hug to you Dana! It is hard for some of us to relate and of course we don’t get the whole experience like you do. We get the blog filtered experience. I love reading about your family and seeing all the fun photos. Always brings big smiles to my face. This is a good reminder to me that you and your family are just like everyone else and you deal with ups and downs too. I think sewing is definitely a great outlet to deal with stress. And even better when you can make such a cute, fun and helpful t-shirt for Clara. Here’s hoping and praying that Clara will start sleeping for you and that God helps you to stay calm and “happy” in the storm of Clara learning and developing her personality. 🙂

    Also, thanks for the cool idea of painting on fabric. I plan to check out your link for using freezer paper for this technique. I have a Silhouette Cameo and have been wanting to try it with freezer paper.


  43. I have been following your blog since owen was a wee pea, and have always wanted to write a comment to let you know you have a big fan here in Toronto. Love the shirt!!! I am very curious what brand of t-shirt paint your using, though. I have gone through three tubs of white, and none of them are as bright as that.

  44. Hey Dana,
    Amen, Sister! I love your honesty about parenting, because it really is just that- lots of patience, endurance, and refueling in how you need it- I agree I too need to create by sewing, painting, etc when my 2 boys, 3 and 1 are in bed.
    Thanks for the fabulous idea and for lots of great ideas on staying creative while being a mom and in your home, so very important!
    Blessings, Andrea

  45. 48) Christine Clark

    Cute idea but those bright eyes caught my eyes. She is beautiful.

  46. 49) Angie

    I love the shirt and also want to say THANK YOU for a “real” post (not saying that any of your posts are “not real”- I just appreciate that you’re humble enough to share a struggle). It’s easy for us blog readers to get depressed about the seemingly-perfect lives of blog writers. 😉

  47. You know, being overtired causes night awakenings and tantrums. You’ve probably already tried it, but when my kids start doing that, I start putting them to bed an hour earlier. Sometimes it works. Good luck!

  48. Your blogs sound like stories now which is very cool! Good luck with this “phase”!!!

  49. That’s adorable! I really love the lettering:).

  50. Completely adorable. And, oh man, those baby tantrums are life for us, too. Eliot started throwing himself on the floor when he didn’t get what he wanted around one…and it continues. Luckily, he’s easily pacified with licorice, and soon he should be able to communicate a bit, too.

    ps glad you like the cut out font–and thanks for the shout out!


  51. Love your work always, you are one of the bloggers who inspire me. You made me take out my dusty sewing machine from the garage and now sewing has become an addiction again for me. Keep posting more inspiration for us.

  52. i’m no way a mommy expert by no means, i only have one 23 month old & i’ve only had her for about 6 months, but was gonna say that maybe an ear infection or just the fact that they just can not communicate fully just yet. my daughter has gone through this stage a bit, but each week gets easier as she’s learning more words ( & she also had to learn to hear the English language for the first time since she is Chinese ). i did notice she was crankier when she had a cold or an ear infection. oh, but they are just so darn cute at this stage, even in their grouchy moments! my daughter was starting to smack us with her little hands or other kids (yikes) but she has been slowly learning to “be nice”, lol! my hubby was starting to worry, but now he sees its just a stage and some kids are just more strong willed than others ( which is a good trait as they get older, imo ). love clara’s new shirt! my daughter has one that says “tired of being good” , ha!

  53. 56) Rosie

    I SO understand exactly where you are. My 3rd is 16 months. Diaper changes are a wrestling match… and thats probably an under-exaggeration. Taking away something she wants results in screams, foot stomping and hitting. She understands what you say, and will do what you ask her to, unless she decides doing the opposite would be better. I feel your pain. 😉 1 is hard.

  54. 57) jodie

    thanks for the post Dana, was having a crappy day and now feel inspired again.

  55. 58) Nicole D

    Thanks for the honesty! IT makes me feel so much better! It always seems like bloggers have it all together so it is nice to see someone be honest that things are kinda hard right now. Thanks again

  56. 59) Ashley

    I am always amazed at how bright and pretty your pictures are! You should do a tutorial! 🙂

  57. 60) Jennifer burnham

    Love this Dana. Needed it 😉

  58. I love that phone in the top picture! I’ve been looking everywhere for a phone that style in that color! Where did you get it? Does it work? 🙂

    • 62) Dana

      it was from a movie set. sorry!
      You might be able to find one at an antique store?

  59. 63) Nina

    Totally adorbs! Now I’ve got that song stuck in my head too, “here’s a little song I wrote, you might want to sing it note for note…”

  60. Supercute T-shirt 🙂 Ahh Tantrums – what would life be without it? Our daughter started to protest on certain clothes and smiled when we suggested something else before she even turned 1 year… Just sayin, NOT looking foreward to her teens 😉 But hey when she smiles and says : pink shoe. And make her little I’m proud twist. Well I totally melt!

  61. Oh baby girls, having temper tantrums is like their job. Ruth is 20 months old and she’s a master at them. Love her, but it’s all drama.

  62. 67) Jamie Leman

    Hi Dana ! I am a 60 year old mom of three daughters and busy grandmother of 5 very active grandkids….four girls and one boy. I just wanted to say that you are such an inspiration ! Your tutorials are fun to watch and easy to follow and I have learned much and made headbands and circle skirts following your tutorials….I want to tackle leggings next. I have been sewing for many years and am always looking for new projects. I love to sew, crochet and make jewelry . Your new fabric is so fun and festive…I think it’s going to be a big hit. I have made two tiered circle skirts following your awesome tutorial… one for my one yr. old granddaughter and one for my six month old granddaughter….. they’re so cute!! Thanks again for all you do to inspire and teach us. Keep on keepin’ on !

    • 68) Dana

      Aww what a sweet comment, Thanks Jamie!
      That makes me so happy to hear!

  63. 69) nicole campbell

    Great tutorial. What type of paint did you use? It’s states craft paint but I’m not sure if that’s acrylic or something different. I made a shirt for my husband using a black t-shirt, freezer paper and white acrylic paint with a fabric medium and even after 3 coats the words barely showed up. The only thing I can think may have caused it was I pre-washed the shirt with fabric softener so I wonder if that was the issue. Your words look great!

    • 70) Dana

      Hi Nicole,
      I used fabric paint. I love the Tulip brand, which you can find at most craft stores. They have tons of colors. Have fun stenciling! 🙂

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