8-bit Nyan Cat Custom T-Shirt Tutorial

Creative Team | June 26, 2017

So, you're seeking the DIY-power to make a custom t-shirt and the Nyan Cat is dear to your heart? Grab some iron-on ribbon and follow along in this tutorial by Cheyenne, one of our creative team leaders. She's here to share the power.


2.jpgSupplies are required

The Hot Ribbons you'll need, along with some other important stuff like a t-shirt to cutomize.

  • Hot Ribbon: Red, Orange, Lemon Yellow, Lime Green, Blue Green, Purple, Pink, Gold, Silver, White, and Black
  • Mini Iron
  • Full-Size Iron
  • Non-Stick Pressing Sheet
  • Scissors
  • T-Shirt 


Why Nyan Cat?

I was inspired to create a Nyan Cat T-shirt design because of my passion for cats and rainbows. The Nyan Cat brings both together, gloriously.

"Nyan Cat is the name of a YouTube video, uploaded in April 2011, which became an Internet meme. The video merged a Japanese pop song with an animated cartoon cat with a Pop-Tart for a body, flying through space, and leaving a rainbow trail behind it. The video ranked at number 5 on the list of most viewed YouTube videos in 2011.[1]" - Wikipedia

As you can see, the Nyan Cat is a very big deal on the internets. It's not fooling around, so why should I? It's time to get serious.

3.jpgStep 1: Cut and lay down your pixels 

I begin to cut the Hot Ribbon strips into squares (pixels) and used a printed out image of Nyan Cat as a reference tool. To begin, I printed out a small still image of the Nyan Cat gif.  I made sure the smallest pixel in the design was just about the same size as a square piece of Hot Ribbon.

I laid the colors down one row at a time. The rows are numbered in the image. I worked from the top to the bottom of each row, one at a time.

I wasn't sure how the spacing would work out if I tried laying down the black outline first, so row by row seemed like the best approach.

I used my best judgement when it came down to figuring out how long to cut the pieces. I eyeballed everything.

Step 2: Go back in time to measure it out

If I could redo this design, I would have measured out everything first and I would have ironed down the ribbon to a stretched-out T-shirt. I ended up having to fix my design half-way through. I really don't want you to make the same mistake. 

I made my design permanent, the pieces shrank down and created spacing within the rainbow.


Step 3: Mini Iron

This is about mid-way through my design. Make sure you have sharp scissors to work with and a mini iron set to medium. I decided to iron the Hot Ribbon directly onto my T-Shirt instead of using the Tempered Glass Transfer Method because there is no overlap in this design—all the pieces of ribbon lay side-by-side on the T-shirt.


The mini iron's small size made working with tiny pieces of Hot Ribbon very simple. I highly suggest using one if you're going to apply the DIY-power to this project.  

Complete the ironing of the Nyan Cat body to the shirt, including adjustments in the poptart size! If you're confused at all by how this Hot Ribbon stuff actually works, then open this link in another tab. 

Step 4: Cut out rainbow 

Hopefully you've gotten a hang of using the mini iron to apply the ribbon. This step explains itself visually, so I recommend you follow along with the images. 


I prepped the rainbow by cutting out even lengths of rainbow colors. The original gif of Nyan Cat contains some overlap between rainbow colors, so I tried to capture that by making each color within the rainbow two strips wide instead of one strip wide. Then you keep adding rows, one after the other until it looks amazing.

10.jpg 11.jpg

After adding a few star bursts in the background, the design is complete. 


Step 5: Final press to finish



I set a large iron to medium-high and placed a non-stick pressing sheet over my design. I let it sit for a couple of minutes, which may have been a tad too long. My ribbon started to shrink a little bit. I should have only let the iron sit for about 40 seconds.

14.jpgShow off your custom shirt

"I'd love to see your custom shirt if a selfie."

Okay, so here I am showing off my cool new Nyan Cat T-shirt! Maybe you'll make something else with your Hot Ribbon, but if you make one, I'd love to see your custom shirt if a selfie. Post a link in the comments below. Thanks!


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Topics: DIY, Hot Ribbon

Creative Team
Creative Team on June 26, 2017

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