What kid doesn’t love glow-in-the-dark anything? No kid I know. (Wait, how many negatives was that?) Read on for instructions for a DIY glow-in-the-dark pillowcase–download our free design or make up your own–and you’ll have the perfect present or project for any kid going off to camp, to a sleepover, to a night at the grandparents’, or just camping in your backyard.
What you’ll need:
I can’t be sure, but I think I let out an audible squeal when I found a glow-in-the-dark fabric pen at the craft store for about $6. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it, but I knew it would be mine. Oh yes, it would be mine.
When I decided a glowing pillowcase would make a great kid craft, I bought two white cases at Ikea (about $12) and then spent way too long choosing fonts for the lettering. Graphic designer I am not, but here are three free PDFs for you to download and use. (They’re all similar, but I hope you see something you like. Or something that inspires you to make your own.)
My husband warned me that any boy old enough to go to sleep-away camp is too old to have his mommy writing sweet things on his pillowcase, so definitely offer your older kids the chance to design their own rather than forcing upon them an oversized phosphorescent love note from dear old mom. Two of my favorite sites for free fonts are http://www.1001freefonts.com/ and http://www.fontspace.com/. The Webdings font that comes with most computers is good for graphic images like stars.
(FTR, my four-year-old is unashamed and also not too shabby at faking asleep.)
You can of course freehand the whole thing, but it’s pretty quick and easy to follow a pattern instead.
1. To print the PDF big enough for your pillowcase, you’ll need to “tile” it, meaning the design will come out on eight sheets of paper that you’ll need to tape together. In your computer’s Print menu, look for the “tile” option and make sure your “tile scale” is set at 100%.
2. With all eight sheets printed out, tape them together to make the whole design.
3. To keep the glow-in-the-dark ink from seeping through to the back of your pillowcase, you’ll need to make a backing for your design template. Freezer paper would work, but I liked the added structure of two flattened cereal boxes. I broke them open, taped them together to make one large sheet, and then taped the pattern on top. The finished template was a bit big for my 20 x 30 pillowcase, so I trimmed it with scissors.
4. The fun part! Use the fabric marker to trace the design onto the pillowcase. (Note: I prewashed my pillowcase and then dried it without using fabric softener or a dryer sheet because…I think I heard somewhere that those products create a semi-waterproof layer on fabric that I worried might repel the fabric marker? I think? Or something? Anyway, I’d at least pre-wash just to be safe.)
Now, this pen can be a bit tricky, so I’d recommend testing it on a piece of scrap fabric until you’re more or less used to how it behaves. I found I had to shake mine a lot and often to keep the ink flowing. I also learned that if I got too much ink in one place, it would wet the printer ink underneath, which then bled up and made black marks. You don’t want that. (Although I was able to cover most of it up with a second coat.)
5. When you’re done with your design, let it dry flat for an hour or so in a location that’s not likely to become a desirable nap location for cats, I’M LOOKING AT YOU, LINUS AND EVE. When the ink is dry, heat-set it with a dry iron and it’s ready for bed and a head. My little camper was over the moon.
A few notes:
–It’s hard to tell how much ink is in these pens, but if you’re making more than one pillowcase, I’d definitely have two pens on hand just to be safe.
–If you’re worried you’re not drawing the ink on thick enough for maximum glow effect, don’t worry. You can always test it out and then go back over your lines until they look the way you want them to.
–I’m starting to sound like I’m paranoid about all things laundry (and maybe that’s true), but I’d wash your pillowcase in cold water and inside out to preserve the glow.
–Kids aren’t the only ones who get a kick out of these. Trace glow-in-the-dark hands of all the grandkids and great-grandkids for the family matriarch. Take one to a friend who’s in the hospital. Ship one to anyone who fondly remembers having glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling above her bed twenty (whoa) years ago. Tie it up with a ribbon and a little LED flashlight and you’re sure to brighten someone’s night.
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