Monday, August 27, 2012

Step By Step Guide to Appliques-With Pictures

I go through phases where I make a lot of shirts and then I don't make any for awhile.  I recently went through a phase where I made several.  So I took step by step instructions because I get so many questions about the process.  There are probably 101 ways to do this but this is how I do it. 

- fabric
- shirts
- pencil
- scissors
- wonder under (detail pic below)
- paper towels
- iron and ironing board

I like to use the duck cloth for the appliques.  It is thicker (it has the texture of canvas or twill) and doesn't lose it's shape or slide around on me.  Sometimes though I have to use the regular cotton fabric if they don't have what I need in duck cloth.

This is the wonder under I use.  Pellon style #725R.

Cut out your fabric while making sure it is big enough for your design.  I'm making a pumpkin.  Then cut out your wonder under in a slightly smaller size.

Leave a little boarder of the fabric so you don't get the sticky wonder under on your ironing board.  You only want it touching the fabric you are using.  Follow the directions on the box to iron it on the fabric.  This calls for the textured side face down on the back of your fabric.

I needed brown for the stem so I planned on using the brown space between the polka dots since I didn't have a plain brown fabric.

After the pieces have cooled, draw your designs on the back of the fabric with a pencil.  This is where you can use a stencil or google free pumpkin clip art and trace it from your computer screen.

Cut them out and then peel off the paper backing.  This leaves a sticky glue on the fabric.  Place the pieces on your shirt.

Place a damp paper towel (I use two layers) on the design and iron over the pieces.  Follow the directions on your box.

I decided to put a letter on the pumpkin.  So print out a letter or free hand one on the back of the fabric you are using.  Remember - trace it backwards so it will be correct when you turn it over after you have cut it out.

I flipped over the "W" to trace it backwards:

Peel off the paper and place it on the pumpkin.  Following the same steps above, place a damp paper towel over it and iron it on.

This is where you can hand stitch around each piece or use the sewing machine.  I used my machine and like I have said before, I only know the basics.  I go very slow and a lot of times I have to hand crank the dial since I tend to get going too fast with the foot peddle.

I go very slow on the turns and pick my presser foot up many times to make the turns.

This is where professional sewers should avert their eyes.  It is not perfect and in some places down right scraggly.


I tell myself it just adds to the home made feel and that it will not be noticeable on a constantly moving little boy.  Now the shirt is ready to go!  I prefer to wash and dry it though before wear because I like it when the edges fray and curl a little bit like in the picture below.

Since I had everything out, I made a ghost shirt for Westin too.  I used all the same steps.  I should have hand stitched around the eyes and mouth but I was in a hurry and used my machine.  Let's just say, this one looks really homemade.  :)  I used white thread on the eyes and mouth and black thread to go around the ghost.  I got the ghost design by googling, "free ghost clip art."
To answer a few questions I've been emailed:
-When I sew a button on for an eye, like on THESE shirts, I use a very thick thread and sew it about 10-15 times.  I make them very secure so I do not have to worry about choking.  If I notice they are loose after a wash I will re-enforce them with more thread.
- Sewing a little shirt or onesie can be tricky.  I just constantly make sure I'm not sewing the front and back together.  This means I'm only sewing a small area at a time until I can re-adjust the shirt because they do not fit over the sewing machine.
If you have any more questions I'll be happy to answer in the comments.


Jessica @ This Blessed Life said...

I have a question! Sorry if this is really dumb. :) Do you have to sew the applique after finishing? Yours look adorable but I don't have a sewing machine or know how to sew. Will they peel right off after a wash if they're not stitched on?

Regardless, this was a great tutorial! Thanks! :)

Karen said...

Love this! I am going to give it a try ~ thanks. My trick for reinforcing buttons is to add a smidge of clear nail polish right over the thread. Have a great week!

Shannon said...

Good idea, Karen!

Jessica, yes they will peel off. One time I had ironed on the pieces but hadn't stitched and Westin took the shirt and threw it in the toilet! So I washed it and they all came off. But go buy a needle and thread and hand stitch. It's very easy. Plus you can make the stitches bigger and it doesn't take very long at all. Maybe watch a you tube tutorial or something. :)

Rhonda said...

You make this look so simple! It's soooo cute! Do you know an approx cost of all the materials? Has to be cheaper than buying on etsy or something! Thanks for all the details!

Shannon said...

Rhonda, it is so simple and once you do a few, it goes so fast! The Wonder Under was $9.99 I think and I used a 40% off coupon. And there is a TON on the roll. I buy 1/8 or 1/4 yards of fabric so it's usually $1-$3 per fabric (but you can use it over and over depending on your designs and use a coupon.) I get the shirts at Walmart ($3.88) or Target. Hope that helps!

Jessica @ This Blessed Life said...

Thanks Shannon! I'll just have to get my mom to sew it for me. :)

Happiness Is... said...

I am impressed! But I can't sew. I really want to learn how but can't right now - ha!

Kaki said...

Thank you so much for sharing! I've always wondered how you make them! Going to have to give it a try now...

I'm Cindi... said...

You CRACK me up..."really homemade". LOL! Awesome job awesome job!

Alex and Jill said...

Okay, I think I could actually do this!! LOL I don't own a sewing machine but my Mom could do that part for me. Thanks for the step-by-step!!

Kimberley said...

i think your appliques always look great! i would have to hand stitch (very scary thought) because i don't even know how to turn on a sewing machine, let alone work it! HA! :)

Angela said...

Thank you so much for this! I was just about to search for your old post that mentioned how you did appliques!

Carla said...

Simply adorable!! Now if my teenagers would let me put appliques on their shirts then I may get some use out of my sewing machine that has been sitting in my scrapbook room collecting dust. Ha! Ha! Maybe I'll try some dishtowels.....maybe!!! Thanks again for the step by step, love it!!!

Emily @ The Diligent One said...

Shannon! You inspired me, and I gave appliqueing shirts a go this weekend for my little niece's 2nd birthday. Thanks for the inspiration and gift idea!

Terri said...

What is your trick for beginning and ending the stitch around the shape? Everytime it seems like my stitch starts coming out and I back stitch over it!

AEOT said...

I did my first shirts this weekend after finding this on Pinterest and thought your tutorial was perfect!! Thanks for the inspiration! You can find my post about it here: