Appliqued shirts are all the rage in children’s clothing boutiques, but as cute as they are, they often cost a pretty penny, and if you want a one-of-a-kind design, it’s going to cost even more! Luckily, appliqued shirts are very easy to make, and they’re a great way to extend the usefulness of clothing and recycle old, worn-out garments. They also make great holiday gifts!
Follow the instructions below, and you’ll have your own appliqued shirts in no time! Virtually no sewing experience is required, I promise!
- A child’s shirt
- Scrap fabric or an old, worn-out shirt
- Plain computer paper
- Felt-tip marker (I use a fading ink marker, found in a sewing store)
- Fusible interfacing (found in your local sewing store, very inexpensive)
- Straight pins (also found in sewing stores)
- Needle and thread
- The first thing you’ll need to do is decide where you’ll place your applique, and how large it will be. Hold a piece of computer paper up to the shirt you’ll be decorating, and use your pencil to mark the approximate dimensions you’ll need to use when making the applique. That way, you won’t make it too large to fit onto the shirt!
- Create your template. I draw my own, but you can easily print something out and use that for a template. Good ideas include animals, print letters, numbers, basic shapes, or anything your child is interested in. If this is your first time sewing, don’t choose anything too complicated.
- After you’ve drawn or traced your template, cut it out. Then, use the marker to trace the design on the wrong side of your fabric and also on the fusible interfacing. If your design isn’t symmetrical, be sure that you trace the design on the proper side of the interfacing; you want to end up with the bumpy side facing the wrong side of the fabric. After tracing and cutting, you will have two identical shapes, one cut from interfacing and one cut from fabric.
- Turn your iron on, choosing a setting that corresponds with your fabric. Turn on the steam. Place your fabric piece right side down on an ironing board. Place the interfacing on top, with the bumpy side next to the fabric and the smooth side up. Line the two shapes up as perfectly as possible. Set your steaming iron on top of these two layers, and hold it in one place for about 10 seconds. Lift the iron and set it down in another place (don’t slide the iron!) for 10 seconds. Repeat until the interfacing is fully fused to the fabric. If you’re not very confident in your sewing skills, you can cut an additional piece of interfacing and fuse it to the inside of the shirt. Make sure it’s larger than your applique, and that it’s fused over every spot where the applique will be. This additional interfacing will keep the shirt from stretching and make your sewing job easier.
- Place the applique on the shirt, in the spot you’d like it to be. Pin it in place.
- Take your needle and thread and start sewing! My favorite stitch for appliques is a simple one (see above). Just come up through the shirt so that your needle is right next to the edge of your design. Go back down just inside the design. Repeat this process all the way around the design. You’ll end up with tiny stitches that are perpendicular to the design.
- You’re done! Don’t forget to remove your pins!
- To preserve the design, be sure to wash your new appliqued shirt inside-out.
- Appliques are a great way to save a beloved shirt that has a stain on it, or to make hand-me-downs new for younger siblings. I frequently use them to make my son’s old clothes acceptable to my very girly daughter!
- If you don’t have scrap fabric lying around, try making appliques out of old clothing that you no longer wear.
- This same technique can be used to patch holes in clothing.
- Appliques can be done very quickly by using a sewing machine with a zigzag stitch.