Monday, February 2, 2009

How to make a t-shirt applique

I've had a lot of fun making little applique t-shirts recently, even though I had no real idea how to do it at first. All I knew was that I wanted to avoid puckering, because I used woven cotton on a stretchy t-shirt. At first I used normal iron-on interfacing on the back of my design and to stabilise the t-shirt, but after a conversation with a very friendly quilter, I discovered something amazing: double-sided interfacing! Woohoo, this stuff is great! Your design stays exactly where you want it, so no pins get in the way. Hope you find these instructions useful :)

Things you'll need:
a t-shirt/onesie (not too stretchy)
paper-backed iron-on interfacing (I found Wonder Under at Spotlight, just ask at the quilting section)
single-sided iron-on interfacing or water-soluble stabiliser (both also available at sewing supplies stores)

Before you start:
Decide on a design and make a template. If you're new to this, keep it simple. Look at this nice tutorial about sewing a little square onto a onesie; very effective.
Wash your t-shirt (if it's going to shrink, now is a better time than after all your hard work!).
Read the instructions for the paper-backed interfacing (you can look at the link above).

Now you can start:
Iron the paper-backed interfacing onto the back of your fabric, then draw your design onto the paper.

Cut out your design, then peel off the paper (the paper side will be 'sticky' looking, like normal interfacing).

Now you can iron the design onto the t-shirt (put the 'sticky' side down onto the right side of the t-shirt).If you want to decorate your design with buttons, beads, embroidery, etc, you can do that now.

At this point you may be tempted to stop, but I'm not sure whether it would withstand a lot of washing. Better stitch it to the t-shirt... You can choose between hand-stitching (a small blanket-stitch would look nice), and machine sewing (a small zig zag stitch works well; do a test on a separate piece of fabric for the right stitch length and width).

If you decide to use your sewing machine, I recommend ironing the single-sided interfacing onto the wrong side of the t-shirt (directly behind your design). This is to stabilise the fabric, so it doesn't pucker. You can iron it on quite lightly, as you'll need to cut around the stitching later. I haven't used water-based stabiliser yet, but I'm sure it would do the same job.

Now stitch around the design, making sure that you stay as close to the edge as possible. If you go in too much, the fabric may fray; if you go over the edge too much you may end up with little holes where the stitches go into the t-shirt (it won't look good after a few washes).

Turn the t-shirt inside out and trim the iron-on interfacing as close as possible to the zig zag stitching (you can pull it off carefully). Don't cut through the t-shirt!!

If you've come this far, congratulations! If you've been able to make sense of my instructions, you should be finished. Please leave a comment if you've tried this, had problems or successes, or any other tips. Happy sewing!


Kimberlee and Lies said...

Wonderful! Thanks!!!

Sam said...

funny I was just doing some applique last night!!!

I use stabiliser and baste the outside line of my picture onto a full piece of material then use a close zigzag and cut off the excess which ensures the outside stitches are in the right place :) I have butchers paper with stabilisers on the wrong side of the t-shirt fabric to stabilise it. makes a very neat outer edge of your picture and is handy when you make up an image with more than one colour of material.

believe it or not I got the instructions out of the book that came with my sewing machine!

med nål och tråd said...

Oh, sweet. I just love when something so "simple" can make such a difference.

sell my house said...

Here attach some cute fabrics for kids.your image collection is great.I am so pleased to see these image.
sell my house

Bonny @ said...

I've never done an applique before but plan to next week to make a turkey. Your instructions are very helpful, so I'll be sure to link to them when I blog about my shirt!

Ruby in the Dust said...

Thanks so much, Bonny; I'm very glad you've found it useful! Good luck and let me know when you've made it, I'd love to see your turkey :)

deanna bowen said...

Love this tutorial. Very informational.