Zentangle Fabric Painting

Age 6+ | Year 1+ | 2 Sessions

This is one of my favourite projects. I am always impressed with how these turn out no matter the skill level of the children. This project can be done with ages as young as 5 or 6. The artists that made the designs in this post are 6 – 8 years old.

Get Some Ideas with an Imagination Workout

What You’ll Need

What To Do


First we discussed what lines and patterns are and I introduced them to the world of Zentangle patterning. Some people call it Zendoodle. It’s the act of drawing a variety of patterns and lines to fill an entire shape or space, the act of repetition can be quite therapeutic and relaxing, hence the ‘zen’ attachment to the term.

So once we understood what zentangles were, we talked about animal shapes. With the younger kids we all decided together on what animal the class would draw, in this case it was a penguin. I then showed them how to draw a basic penguin with about 5 or 6 easy shapes that they could then draw by themselves. The older kids chose their own animals and I showed them the book “Draw 50 Animals” by Lee J. Ames which is a great book filled will an easy step by step on all types of animals.

Sketch The Design

After the animals were chosen, they each got a piece of paper roughly the size of the bag or t-shirt they’d be using. With black sharpies, they drew their rough copy onto the paper with all the zentangles. Rough copies are important for this project because they will surely make mistakes and it prevents tears when you say “No” to starting over on a new bag or t-shirt.

Draw On The Fabric

Once their rough copies are approved by me, they can receive a bag or t-shirt and a board. We used corrugated plastic boards because it doesn’t absorb the paint/water and does well to prevent leak-through to the other side, but cardboard works fine if that’s all you have. They insert the board and tape the fabric taut and flat. I help the younger ones with this step.

Paint It’s painting time! They use their paper designs to copy from and start painting on their fabric bag or t-shirt.

This project is done with acrylic paint, it works just as good as fabric paint and is far more affordable. It’s best to dilute the paint quite a bit for this project, the colours will spread better and the lines of the sharpie show up nicely. If the paint is too thick, or even matches the consistency you’d normally paint with, the colours won’t spread well, and over time the paint will start to flake off. Watery paint is just better, trust me.

By the way, you can wash the bags and tees as normal. It will not affect the designs in the slightest. My design has remained with the same vibrancy since when I made it 5 years ago!

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