Making a human body t-shirt
My son and his friend absolutely love a computer game that allows them to place organs in the right spot on the human body. So when I was walking through a craft store the other day and saw this:
It made me think of small intestines. After that, it was a matter of finding some iron-on Velcro, grabbing a dozen different pieces of felt and grabbing a package of small t-shirts before heading home to make this birthday present for his friend. The whole project, including the store trip, was probably about an hour.
As you can see below, the organs are all removable, so the little scientists can paste them back into the right spot. I made the blank slate more interesting by drawing some ribs onto it. I remembered that I had some x-rays that were about the right size, so simply traced the ribs onto the t-shirt using a fabric pen. I had a light box, so put the x-ray down, then the t-shirt, with a translucent cutting board from the kitchen inside the shirt to make sure the marker didn’t bleed through. It only took about 5 minutes to trace the ribs onto the shirt (yes, I wish I had thought of this in time to use this idea when making the skeleton outfit). Since the pelvis was too low, I simply freehanded the top of the pelvis onto the bottom of the shirt to give the lower organs a place to line up.
Then I cut out the organs. I wanted them all to be roughly the right scale, so drew some rough patterns onto paper first by looking up the shapes and relative size on webMD. This can be a fun activity to do together, if you don’t mind an art critic judging your work. Here are the organs I made out of felt:
I thought about adding a gall bladder and spleen, but each organ should be visible on the shirt, and still have a Velcro patch on the shirt, so too much layering would be complicated. With the few I ended up including, and the fact that I used pink for two organs, I only used 8 pieces of felt. Next time, I might just glue a little gall bladder to the back of the liver for fun.
Using the paper guidelines as a rough guide, I cut out the organs, then trimmed them until I was happy with the look. I took some leftover dark red from the kidneys and cut them into veins to go in and out of the heart.
Then I laid them all out and used the Velcro sticky patches to adjust all of the Velcro until I was sure none of the Velcro was locking a piece into place by accident. I put the soft Velcro pieces on the shirt so they wouldn’t catch on anything if the organs were removed. When I was sure it was all lined up, I followed the directions on the Velcro packaging: I put a thin cloth over the organs and ironed the whole thing for 90 seconds, then flipped over the shirt and ironed it from the back.
This gift was a huge hit, so I plan to make another for my son soon. Hope you enjoy making this with your kids.