10 July 2012

To a Tee

2012 RtR Jersey

My two-year-old neighbor would be turning three the weekend after Ride the Rockies. I found a plain but appropriately sized Ride the Rockies toddler T-shirt on Day 1. I didn't want to haul the gift across the state all week, so I committed to buy it when we finished.

The day we finished Ride the Rockies, the tiny Tees were sold out, along with the even tinier onsies.

The salesperson suggested I order the child's T-shirt online because there were plenty more.


Good Enough!

After a few days of waiting, I realized the T-shirt would not arrive in time for the birthday party if I ordered it. If it ever showed up on the website again. (As it turned out, the shirts were completely sold out and were not made available online.)

I had taken a photo of the RtR logo on this year's jersey. I could have the photo printed on a tiny T-shirt, and that would be even better than the text-only T-shirt I'd seen on Day 1.

So began the hunt for a T-shirt printer who would be open in the evening when I got off work; I now had only two days left before the birthday party. T-shirt shops in Moab are open outrageous hours, and I expected at least one shop in the Denver Metro area to follow suit.


making my own toddler T

Because I'd taken a week off from work, work was getting even with me, and I had to stay late every night. Every T-shirt printer I found closed before I left work.

I got this bright idea to print the T-shirt myself. I'd have to hook up the old, dinosaur laptop that doesn't work so well anymore, but I would need to run only one program at a time, so the computer should survive. I'd seen printable iron-on tranfers in various stores. I stopped at the closest 24-hour department store late the night before the party, after getting off work, and picked up a blank T-shirt, a package of iron-on transfers and a pair of neon socks. (Neon socks just in case Kiddo didn't like the T-shirt.)

I actually read the instructions on the T-shirt transfers before hitting the print button. Good thing, too. I don't think I'd have thought about the image needing to be reversed.

ready to iron

My first test print (on regular paper) proved I needed to recalibrate my printer. After all, I haven't used it since about last December, and it can't communicate with the newfangled laptop.

My second test print looked really good, so I ran my first sheet of transfer paper through the printer. I didn't know what ink setting to use because I'd never done this before, and printing on fabric, which I have done, takes lots of ink. So I used the regular paper setting.

Where's the bike?!?

The first transfer was way too heavy on the ink! The bikes in the logo completely disappeared! So I switched to the finest photo paper setting the printer has, and I tried again. Fine photo paper has a glossy surface and does not require much ink.


I followed the instructions for ironing the transfer onto the shirt, except I was a little too anxious to peel the paper away. Although the transfer looked awesome, the corners came up a bit because I didn't allow the shirt to cool adequately. I thought I could press the corners down if I ironed the shirt again on the wrong side. I even stuck a towel in the shirt to prevent the transfer from ruining the backside of the shirt.

I ruined the towel instead. Back to square zero.

much better

press on

Looking good!

OH NO!!!

First thing the day of the party, The Lizard ran me back to the department store, plain T-shirts in the appropriate size were completely sold out. The store didn't have packages of T-shirts the right size, either, so I had to take a chance with one size smaller. I had to buy a whole package, which means I get to play around with this process and decorate more shirts once I regain my confidence.

This time after I ironed on the transfer, I stuck the entire shirt in the freezer to make absolutely certain it cooled enough before I peeled the paper. When I did take the paper off, that shirt looked super cool! And not just because it was ice cold!

About an hour later, the shirt was presented in a most attractive bag to a wildly excited newly-three-year-old, who promptly slung the T-shirt to the ground while digging in the bag looking for the good stuff. Fortunately, the neon socks were to her liking.

My budding career as on iron-on tranfer artist is likely short-lived, but my neighbor's mom assures me Kiddo is going to enjoy wearing her very own Ride the Rockies jersey next time she rides her bike, and it will be even more special if I'm riding at the same time and wearing my matching jersey!

ready to gift


  1. I like the design, it reminds me of a National Park sign...don't ask why...I probably have trip...vacation.... trails...adventure.... on my mind! My daughter will love the Wells mention....she works for Wells Fargo!

  2. I've learned the hard way over the years that if you see an event tee-shirt in the right size for a little one you know, snap it up that instant!

    You could almost have given her that first tee - the missing corners made it look fashionably distressed - kind of like the tattered jeans that are sold for outrageous prices. :)

    What a great gift, the more so because you put so much loving effort into it.


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