Thursday, May 28, 2009

Easy t-shirt applique: A photo tutorial

I was reading the blog Forever Folding Laundry recently, and I saw this post. I fell in love with the shirt that cutie patootie Avery was wearing. I love the simple applique that Keri does--none of that time-consuming turning under of fabric edges. Nothing wrong with the fabric fraying a bit; it's part of what makes this whimsical style of applique look so fun and unique. I decided I had to try it myself.

Here were the results:



I like Zoodle's shirt so much more than Chickie's, but I just happened to use Chickie's for my tutorial photos. Oh, well. Here's how you can make a creative shirt for a lucky kid (or adult!) in your life:

Easy T-Shirt Applique Photo Tutorial

1. Buy cheap shirts. I got mine at Target. Zoodle's was $5, and Chickie's was on clearance for $2.48.

2. Buy fabric. I bought 1/4 yard of several different fabrics. They were on sale at Hobby Lobby for 30% off. (Fabric and craft stores nearly always have some sort of good sale going on!) You might want to look for coordinating fabrics (displayed together) if you plan to use more than one fabric on the same shirt. I bought all this fabric plus Wonder Under (see below) for under $15, and I'll be able to make a gazillion shirts with it.



3. Buy Wonder Under. This is sold by the yard with the interfacing--just ask someone at the store if you don't know what I'm talking about! I bought 1 1/2 yards so that I'll have plenty for future projects, but 1/4 yard should be more than enough for a few shirts.


4. Draw whatever shape you want for your applique. I wanted a kangaroo for Chickie's, so I used Google Image Search to find one I liked, and I used that image as a rough model for my drawing. (It took me a few drafts to get it right.) Your design doesn't need to be perfect! I purposefully made Zoodle's tie a bit crooked, and didn't make sure it was perfectly symmetrical.


Do As I Say, Not As I Do Tip #1: Zoodle's shirt was far simpler, far easier, and far cuter than Chickie's. Simple is good!

5. Wonder Under comes with great directions, but I altered them a bit to make it even easier. Place your drawing under the Wonder Under, and trace it. (Draw on the rough side of the Wonder Under.)


6. Follow the instructions on the Wonder Under to iron your design onto the fabric. (Position the rough side of the Wonder Under on the wrong [back] side of the fabric.)


Do As I Say Not As I Do Tip #2: In general, small prints will work better than larger prints for these appliques--especially for detailed designs like a kangaroo. Also, make sure your design is positioned in such a way that the print doesn't look funky. I really don't like the big, green circle that sits right where the kangaroo's eye is.

7. Cut the fabric and Wonder Under along the lines you traced. I used one fabric for the mama kangaroo's body, and a complimentary fabric for the baby kangaroo [joey] and for the mama's ears.



8. If you have more than one piece and they'll be overlapping, position them approximately where you want them, to make sure they fit well.


9. If you want to use fabric paint, permanent marker, etc. to decorate a bit, this is a good time to do it.


10. Peel the Wonder Under off the back of the fabric. Having fingernails definitely helps for this step! The fabric will be left with a gummy substance on it, that will allow you to iron it onto the shirt.


11. Position the design on the shirt, and follow the Wonder Under directions for ironing it on. A damp press cloth is required. Here's an easy way to dampen a clot:. Run water in the sink, drain open, for a couple of seconds, then turn off the water, and use your cloth to soak up what's left in the sink.



12. Remove the press cloth and make sure the design looks good. Before it cools, you can adjust it slightly if needed, and re-press.


You can stop at this point if you'd like, but the design may not hold up too well in the wash. I suggest the next step.

13. Topstitch around the edges of the design. You can use your sewing machine or do this by hand--larger hand stitches would be adorable!


That's it! Now, I recognize that 13 steps sounds like a lot, but once I got my kangaroo design drawn and my shopping done, I completed both shirts in a couple of hours or so. If I'd only been doing Zoodle's ultra-simple shirt, I could have finished it in about 30 minutes!

Thanks, Keri, for the inspiration! (Her blog has a ton of other examples of her ultra-cute handiwork, and she also sells totally adorable hair clips on Etsy.)


Heather said...

Cleverly excellent!!! Makes me want to get my sewing machine up and running.

Call Me Cate said...

And do they love their shirts? The fabrics you chose are adorable.

Chris said...

I just sent a link to this post to the Black Magic Woman (wife). Hope all is well.

forever folding laundry said...

Aw, thanks for the nice words!! Your shirts are darling! And I loooove the detail on Zoodle's pocket! These really are easy, and make great gifts. For birthdays, I've started making tees with the birthday kid's initial. Fun!


caryn said...

These are adorable!

Julie said...

Nice! I have a friend here who's kids are always wearing stuff like this- I never knew it was so easy! I'll have to try it!

C. Beth said...

Simply Heather--Do it! :)

Call Me Cate--Chickie loves hers. Zoodle's is still too big...but I can guarantee he wouldn't care even if he could wear it!

Chris--Great! I hope she can use it. Hope all is well with you too.

Keri--Thank you! It really is fun!

caryn--Thank you! I'm looking forward to making more!

Julie--So easy! You should definitely try it.

janice said...

I LOVE Zoodle's shirt- adorable!

Anonymous said...

For those who can't sew, you can seal the edges of the iron on with a fabric paint. I agree that you have to do something or it will fray when washed. I think the paint is quick although you have to allow drying time.

jessjess77 said...

Wow, I'm totally not that crafty but I really want to try this!! I think I could do it with the puff paint idea!

Bri said...

I wish I knew how to use my sewing machine LoL I bought one from a friend awhile back but have no idea how to use it. Havent used one since 7th grade HA!

I actually really like the design of Chickie's shirt. I must admit though, I had to go back to "find" the joey. Love Zoodle's. You totally need pics of them wearing them, even if Z's is too big :)

Priyanka said...

nice tips... just tweeted it!