Polka Dot Tee (Tutorial)

I’ve been seeing large polka dot prints popping up all over the place lately, and have fallen in love. But since many of the current trends don’t appear in the maternity section, I took matters into my own hands and made myself a fun polka dot top out of a plain white maternity t-shirt. This was probably the easiest project I’ve ever done, but it turned out so cute and looks so good.

Here’s what I did (and obviously this is not a maternity-only tutorial).


  • solid colored t-shirt 
  • fabric paint
  • paint brush
  • small circular lid (I used the lid from Peanut’s bubbles — the paint washes right off when you’re done)
  • paper or cardboard

step 1. lay your t-shirt out and put the paper or cardboard inside to avoid the paint bleeding through.

step 2. dip your lid directly into the paint, and swirl around to make sure the top of the lid is completely coated in paint. Dab off excess if necessary.

step 3. decide where you want your polka dots, and carefully press down on the fabric. If your dot comes out unevenly like mine, go back with some black paint on your paintbrush and fill in the holes.

step 4. repeat for all the dots on the front of the shirt and sleeves, then when it’s dry, flip the shirt over and repeat on the back.

step 5. when all your paint is dry, hold a hot iron half an inch above each painted area to heat seal the paint, and/or throw it in the dryer and let the hot air heat seal the paint. 

And that’s it! A super easy and fun new t-shirt. 

As always, comment or email with any questions! Happy painting!

  • Such a clever idea, Merrick!

  • This is SO CUTE!!! And you are looking more darling all of the time. I had a dream last night that you went blog crazy and posted like 16 times in one day. I kept checking back like every half hour to make sure I didn't miss any of your awesome posts. If I remember what they were about I will let you know… they were almost as inspiring as your real blog… XOXO!

  • Ash

    Super cute… I'm totally trying this!

  • wow this is a really cute and super easy DIY! Thanks for sharing, I'm def. going to do it!

  • wow I can't believe you made this tee yourself– looks awesome! xo


  • You are too cool. I spent $45 on a white polka dot tee from Madewell. It did take less time though πŸ™‚

    Sarah's Real Life

  • Super cute!!! I love when you can't find what you're looking for you make your own! You're so talented! =) Have a great weekend!

  • Love this! I've wanted to do this for a while so thanks for the tutorial.

  • I LOVE this! As soon as our VBS is finished in a week and a half I am so trying this! Thanks πŸ˜‰

  • I love your blog! You are great inspiration for my new blog! Cute project idea also!


  • Super cute top, where did you get the original white t?

  • love this idea- and it's easy enough i can actually do it! πŸ™‚ where did you find the white t- i love it!?

  • You look so pretty!! πŸ˜‰

  • Adorable!
    I want to make one…I NEED to make one!

  • That is such a good idea. Looks great!

  • What a great idea! You are seriously too cute!

  • So cute with the red necklace! I'm going to have to try this sometime!

  • Love this. Thanks! I will be trying this with some mens white tshirts!

  • I love it!! At first i thought you were going to show us a tutorial on how to stitch this pattern. But was completely surprised by painting the polka dot idea! Brilliant and I am going to copy this idea.

  • That is so cute! Also a great idea! Thanks for this!


  • I just painted a coffee cup like that! Love it! xoxo

  • This is so cute! So creative!!

  • That is too flippin' adorable. Great job. πŸ™‚ I need to try this soon.


  • CC

    Love it! So very cute. πŸ™‚
    And I love how you've styled it with the cute necklace and shoes! πŸ˜‰

  • perfectly done!!!

  • Cute Mer! I love this! Amazing as usual.

  • Whoop! Awesome.

  • That's so easy it blows my mind! Adorable. At first I thought you were going to trace circles with the top – so much EASIER!

  • looks good!

  • Pretty cute! Aren't you the creative genius!

  • That's super cute! Well, crap so are you;-) So to the days of being young and cute! Then menopause!

  • So creative! Love the idea! May have to try this!



  • Super cute and I love the pop of that necklace!

  • The shirt is from a little local store called Cozy, which doesn't have an online store. But the shirt brand is In Joy Clothing. Hope that helps!

  • Totally loving this tutorial! πŸ™‚ can't wait to try it out!


  • Love it!
    So much fun! and the shirt looks so super cute on you!
    Thanks for the post!

  • I've been loving white dots on dark blue lately and also itching to buy, but fighting the urge! I think a trip to Goodwill and Hobby Lobby is in order!

  • Thank you for such a cute idea! I pulled out a shirt that I was planning on sending to the salvation army store to practice on. there was a spot stain on the front…so it became a black dot! It turned out so cute that I wore the shirt with a jeans skirt to work today! You saved me $$ and helped me make something old, new again.

  • Meg

    I am in love with this idea. I really want to try it!! DIY clothing projects are so much fun. Thanks for all the fun ideas!


  • This was such a cute idea I had to do it myself! You can see how it turned out here: http://homemakin-decoratin.blogspot.ca/2012/09/diy-polka-dot-shirt.html

    I used Martha Stewart's craft paint.. and I'm wondering how it will turn out after washing it. I'm nervous to wash it! Does anyone have any suggestions??

  • I used this as inspiration to make my daughter a polka dot onsie– I posted a couple pictures here


    love how it turned out and it made me want to go crazy with fabric paint. It's so easy πŸ™‚

  • Okay friend. Seriously. I can't believe your moving. I need you to teach me all your crafty ways! So cute so cute!

  • What is the shirt you used to start with? I love it!

  • A blogger friend of mine shared your DIY post and I absolutely love it! Soon gonna try this! Hope you are having a wonderful day!
    Style Delights Blog
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  • I shared this tutorial on my blog because I really want to do it. Take a peek at it: http://lolos-pinch-of-happiness.blogspot.com