Thursday, September 29, 2011

DIY Kids Applique T-shirt

The inspiration for this little project originally came from this post by Emily about how to make a boy's tie t-shirt:

So cute!  So I made a bunch of tie shirts for Gigi's 3rd birthday party for the boys to wear.  They turned out so cute, I decided to use the same basic principles to make Gigi and Bobo t-shirts to wear at their birthday parties.  Unfortunately Gigi's was in the washing machine with a pair of pants I had just made Bobo and did not realize that the dye in the fabric would bleed all over the entire load of clothes.  So they both have random shirts and pants with blue everywhere.  Gigi's super cute "3" shirt got a double-dose of blue dye so it had to go in the trash.

Bobo has worn his all summer though and I think it still looks pretty good:

As you can see it has frayed a bit but I thought that kind of "worked" with the gingham and bandana fabric so I haven't snipped off a single thread after numerous washings.

I actually thought it would fall apart after a few washings because I did not sew a zig-zag around the edges as instructed in the Saltwater Kids Tutorial above.  So when it didn't, I was thinking, it would be really cute and fun to do a little graphic on a t-shirt.  And considering how many stains my kids' white shirts have by the end of the summer, it would be a good way to help me get a little more wear out of those shirts.  Especially since here in Dallas it is almost October and still 100 degrees outside.

So here's all you need to create your own super cute applique t-shirt:
1 t-shirt (preferrably blank with no pockets)
cute scrap fabric (I think thin, cotton fabric works best)
cute graphic 
regular scissors (to cut paper)
sharp fabric scissors
Steam-A-Seam 2 (see below)

This is Steam-A-Seam 2 (not sure what happened to 1?) and I had never heard of it prior to reading the Saltwater Kids Tutorial.  It is available at JoAnn, Hobby Lobby and I'm sure at various other places that sell sewing and crafting supplies.  Whoever created this product is a genius!

Disclaimer:  As usual, I am taking these pictures at night so excuse the quality (and shadows).  You get the jist.

1.  Lay out your shirt(s) so you know how big they are and about how large you'd like your graphic image to be.

2.  Go to Google Images and type in "sailboat graphic" or "cupcake graphic" (or whatever kind of picture you think would look cute) and troll through the bazillions of pictures the internet has to offer.  Once you find one that fairly closely resembles the shape you want, copy and paste it into a word document and enlarge it until it is about the size you think you want on your shirt.  Print it out and compare to your shirt.  If it isn't the right size, just keep playing with it until it is.  I err on the size of it being too large.  Too much is always better than not enough!

3.  Pick out some jazzy fabrics from your scrap pile.  I think these turn out best when you use a simple graphic but busy patterned fabrics.

4.  Create your pattern.  If the graphic you printed from the internet wasn't exactly what you wanted then modify.  I cannot draw at all but I knew exactly what I wanted my graphics to look like and if I have a picture that is somewhat close I can take it from there.

Yep, that is how I wanted it to look.

Eh, I wasn't thrilled with how my cupcake's scallops turned out the first time around.


5.  Cut out the pieces of your pattern.  (Do you love my scissors?)

6.  Pin the pattern to your fabric to keep it still while you cut out the fabric.  It is critical that you use sharp sewing scissors to cut out the fabric or else it won't look good.  

7.  Unpin your paper pattern from the fabric you cut out and use it to trace the same shape on a piece of Steam-A-Seam 2 paper.  Trace the shape slightly larger than your pattern piece so the Steam-A-Seam will overlap your fabric.  This will help prevent fraying.

8.  Cut out the pieces of Steam-A-Seam with your regular scissors.

9.  Now is the really fun part!  Lay your t-shirt on your ironing board and iron it to make sure it's smooth.

10.  Fold your t-shirt in half lengthwise, lining up the two edges of the collar and shoulders.

You are trying to find the exact middle of your t-shirt and I have found that the bottom edges don't always line up as well.  But the graphic is going on the upper half of the t-shirt so it's more important that it's centered correctly there.

11.  Iron down the middle of the shirt to create a good crease.

12.  Unfold your shirt and smooth it out flat, ensuring you can still see the center crease.

13.  Take your first piece of Steam-A-Seam and peel off the top layer.

14.  Lay your fabric down on the sticky, exposed fusible web.

15.  Do the same for your other pieces of fabric.  Place your fabric pieces exactly where you want them on your t-shirt.

16.  Press your iron down over your fabric for 10 seconds and do not move it.  If you can't iron your whole graphic down at once that is fine, just do it in separate parts.

17.  Your fusible webbing that is overlapping the fabric will probably 1) make a spiderweb effect when you pull the iron up and 2) get all over your iron.  It's okay.  It doesn't hurt the iron or the fabric, even if you use it again on other t-shirts (like I did).  Once the iron was cool, I scraped it right off with my fingernail.

Voila!  You are done!  You can put them straight on!

18.  The hardest step:  getting your kids, who woke up on the wrong side of the bed/crib, to pose for pictures in your outfits.  Luckily, this one is into posing lately.  It only took a 30 minute temper tantrum :)

This one, not so much.  He just started walking so he wants to walk around everywhere like a big boy.  Luckily he still can't talk so he can't express his opinion about what he wears!

My outdoor photo session quickly deteriorated.

I think I'm going to get a little red poof ball thing to sew on top of the cupcake--wouldn't that be cute?

Have a great day!


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