Welcome Queen Grandmother Jesi!
One of my favorite things to do is sew for my granddaughters. So when my daughter asked me to make an appliqué shirt for her daughter last fall I was up for the challenge. As I began making multiple holiday themed shirts, what started as fun ended up turning into SewGirl Designs. I’m excited I’m going to do something I’ve never done before! I get to share with all of you Queen
Mommy’s how to make one of my favorite birthday shirts.
Do you go to the craft fairs and boutiques and think, “I can do that” instead of buying the product but you never do? Or are you someone who doesn’t sew a stitch and keeps those boutiques in business? Well, even if you aren’t sure you can do it but don’t have the funds for boutique priced clothes, I’m here today to share some of my little secrets to creating an appliqué shirt for your little princesses.
First we’ll start with your list of supplies. I tend to scan instructions and jump in feet first. But this is the most important part of the project. Quality supplies are the key to a boutique quality finished product.
- T-shirt or onesie – I get mine from a wholesale supplier. But the weight of the shirt is important if you are going to finish the appliqué by sewing. I recommend something like Carters brand for retail shirts. I’ve also used t-shirts from Target as well. I recommend spending a few more cents on the shirt if you plan to get a lot of wear from it
- Fabric – In most cases you won’t need more than 1/8 of a yard for one shirt. This is less than $1 worth of fabric. You’ll want to decide on your design first, so you know if you have a need for more than this, or if this will be more than enough. Be sure to get your little princess to help pick out her favorite colors or fabrics!
- Picture of design – The design I’m sharing today is really just letters and numbers I’ve printed off my computer. You can use clip art, or even pictures you print and trace to get the design you want.
- Iron on Adhesive – I use Heat n Bond. In fact, I swear by it. I’ve tried others and this one has never failed me. There are two types you can purchase - Sewable or Ultra Hold. I use Sewable, but if you aren’t going to sew it then I highly recommend Ultra Hold. Note: Do not use Ultra Hold if you are sewing, it will gunk up your machine needle and cause skipped stitches.
- Marker, scissors, iron, safety pin, sewing machine – This is the best part! If you don’t know how to sew, you can still make these shirts. Sewing machine is optional!
- Ribbon to match – I get ribbon at Hobby Lobby on sale at half price. They have a rainbow of ribbons to match just about anything. You do not need a clip as the bow will be pinned on.
- Studs or gems for crown – I get mine at Hobby Lobby. The type doesn’t matter, but please remember to use caution when adding these to infant clothing. I use E6000 glue and it is the only one I recommend. The gems will stick for the life of the garment.
1. Print your design – To begin with, I typed the name out on my computer and highlighted the letters. This allows me to change the font / size all at once. I made my letters 250 pts and my number is 350 pts. The designs typically need to be about 5 inches overall for infant sizes and 7 inches or so for toddler sizes. I print this on cardstock so I can reuse it and it’s also easier to trace. But plain paper works too. I also change the font to “outline” to use less ink. Do the same for the number – I use the Curlz font and 450 pt size – and the crown (use clip art or draw one if you can!).
Once the design is the size you want, print and cut it out. It is easier to use small scissors to cut out the design and get in the curves and corners. Set the pieces aside.
2. Prepare the fabric – Once you’ve decided on the fabric, press and lay right side down on the ironing surface. Cut a piece of the Heat n Bond large enough to lay out the pattern for each piece of fabric. Lay adhesive side down and iron on to fabric following package directions. NOTE: for sequined or finer fabrics, carefully press as the fabric will melt to the iron if it is too hot. Use the tip of the iron if needed to stay on the paper and away from directly touching the fabric.
3. Trace the design – Spread the fabric right side down across a table or hard surface. Place the design FACE DOWN and trace around the edges on to the paper backing of the Heat n Bond. Once you have traced all the pieces, cut out using sharp scissors. HINT: I use a Sharpie for tracing, but be careful of ink pens as the ink will not dry well and can get on the fabric. **Get your prince and princesses involved! Let them help trace the designs! Older children can even help cut them out! These do not have to be perfect, so have fun with this part!**
4. Apply the appliqué to the shirt or onesie – Lay the shirt across the ironing board. Peel the backing paper off each piece and lay right side up on the shirt. This is the time to move around until it’s ready to iron on. HINT: For infant sizes, always put the design closest to the neckline. This keeps the focal point on the face of the little princess wearing the shirt. Once in place, press with a hot iron on to shirt per package instructions.
HINT: For finer fabrics (sequin), use a scrap piece of cotton fabric to go between the iron and the appliqué to keep from damaging the finished design. ** Princess helpers can help peel the paper off and place the design on the shirt! **
5. Sew decorative edging (Optional) – Remember, this step is optional. If you don’t sew and used the Ultra Heat n Bond, you can skip this step. But if you are using the Sewable Heat n Bond, stitch with a medium zig zag around the edge of each piece. I like to use a matching thread, or white depending on the design.
My personal preference is to give this an old-fashioned look by using a regular zig zag stitch. It can be difficult and frustrating to make this look like it was machine embroidered.
- Trim the thread – When you finish sewing, it can look like a tangled mess. But don’t lose heart, just a few trims later and it will look great. Be sure to trim the front and back of the shirt. The below picture didn’t come out very well, but I wanted to show you what it looks like before it’s trimmed.
It’s particularly important to note how nice the inside of the shirt turns out. The picture below shows how nice it will be for your little princess to wear. Unlike machine embroidered items, these do not have any itchy stabilizer on the inside! HINT: If you used Ultra Heat n Bond press from the wrong side as well to give an extra bond to the applique.
6.Add the bow and gemstones – I love to use bows on my shirts and this one is no exception! The bow is made just like a hair bow, but I don’t add a clip. If you have one on an alligator clip, this can work too. All my bows are safety pinned on for easy care. Have fun with your little princess picking out ribbon or bows to use!
As a final note, be sure to wash in cold and hang to dry. Heat will affect the appliqué and glue bond on the shirt. If you iron too much or use too much heat in the dryer, it will become stiff or the gems can fall off. With proper care, these appliqués will last the lifetime of the shirt or onesie.
And that’s it! With a few supplies and a couple of hours, you have your own boutique quality appliqué shirt! Now that you know the how, the possibilities are endless! You can use this same technique on bags, backpacks, pants, shirts, jackets… Have fun filling your kingdom with lots of new designs!
Thank you for letting me share this project with you! I’d love to answer any questions and see how your shirts came out!