STEM Project: DIY Graduation Shirts
During the last two months of school, I created a Graduation Design Team consisting of Grade 8 students who worked together to come up with a design and fundraising plan for selling graduation T-shirts to their peers.
The team had to:
Come up with a design
Create an order form
Gauge order interest from our graduating class
Cut out the design on vinyl using our class “Cricut” maker
Iron-on the cut-out design onto T-shirts
Create the actual T-shirts in time for distribution on the last day of school
Our first step involved coming up with a T-shirt design. We wanted to keep it simple and practical, and we came up with a series of ideas. We thought about using our school initials, but since – unfortunately – they are literally “B.S.,” we opted to go with our school logo instead. This task proved difficult because we needed an “SVG” file of our logo, which didn’t exist, so we had to make one.
To replicate our school logo, we used Adobe illustrator and imported a basic picture of our school mascot. the Spitfire Dragon. We zoomed in on the dragon and carefully traced it using nodes in order to make a detailed outline of the dragon graphic that we wanted to cut on, using our Cricut program.
Once finished, we saved our new SVG picture and imported it into “Cricut Design Space” in order to add our text around the image of the dragon. We curved the top text to display our school name, and we added “Class of 2023” underneath the dragon graphic. We then cut out a square of vinyl to cut our logo into, and we did our first test cut, which we eventually pressed onto a T-shirt.
We then took our prototype and asked the graduating students whether they would be interested in purchasing one. We passed out order forms to those students, and once we got the forms back (about 30), we ordered blank T-shirts, as well as the appropriate amount of vinyl.
Once we cut all the vinyl pieces, a group of four students did the tedious job “weeding” off the excess vinyl around the edges of the dragon logos, which would eventually be pressed onto the T-shirts.
With the help of two of my students, I did all of the heat pressing when the T-shirts came in. The shirts turned out great! They were handed out on the last day of school so the students could sign the back of each other’s shirts as a memento of their Grade 8 graduating class.
The hardest part of this process was figuring how much “weeding” we needed to do for our vinyl once it was cut. There were a lot of ruined cuts as a result of our team accidentally weeding away some of the small details on the dragon logo (e.g.nostrils or horns). Once we got a few good cuts that we were happy with, we pressed those ones onto T-shirts and used them as examples to better guide the remainder of the weeding process.
This activity provided a valuable way for the students to learn how to design and create, with the added benefit of being an effective fundraising activity for the school’s graduation. Each shirt cost about $10 to make (blank shirt + vinyl), and we sold them for $20, giving us a profit of around $10 per T-shirt for our fundraising.
This activity also taught the kids how to use two different programs (Adobe Illustrator and Cricut Design Space), which gave them a new skill that can be used outside of school for their own purposes or for future fundraising projects in high school.
Links and Products used:
We used “Adobe Illustrator” to trace our school logo and turn it into an SVG file.
We used "Cricut Design Space” for customizing our final design.
We used the “Cricut Maker” for cutting our vinyl.
We used the “Cricut Heat Press” for ironing on our vinyl logos onto the Y-shirts.