This week I realized that Aoife's belly showed in half the shirts she was wearing. She's growing like a weed, she's tall and thin and beautiful and needs some new clothes. I stopped by the local consignment store and found only one shirt in size 7. It was plain and brown, and two dollars. I knew it wouldn't appeal to her-- she likes things that are interesting and patterned. But I also knew that in about an hour, I could easily turn this plain shirt into something she'd love. So here's what I did.
First, I found an image in a book that I really liked. This one is from a beautiful illustrated version of Edward Lear's poem The Owl and the Pussycat, by Anne Wilson.
Next, I chose my fabric and got out my favorite applique tool-- fusible webbing, and you can see that I have Steam-a-seam brand. This webbing has paper on two sides, so you can trace an image and then remove one side of paper, stick it to your fabric, and cut out your image perfectly. You simply have to remember to stick the image to the back side of the fabric so that when you iron it onto your piece of clothing (in my case the shirt) your fabric goes the right way. If your image has a right way and a wrong way you will also have to be mindful that your image is going in the right direction. In my case I traced the outer oval, the inner oval, and the funky heart all individually on their own pieces of steam-a-seam so that I could layer them up on the shirt.
Here you'll see my orange oval ironed onto the orange fabric and ready to cut out. I did the same with the pink oval and the yellow heart, and below are the three fabric appliques placed on the shirt ready to be ironed on.
So I ironed it on, and headed for my machine and set some thread with a good contrast on a small-ish, tight zig-zag stitch. The fusible webbing I use is technically permanent, but with the number of machine washes and dries that the clothing I make will get I always stitch it on for good measure. I stitch every seam, and if you've never done applique before I would caution you to move very slowly and to turn the work on your needle without the machine running-- it keeps the "v" of the zig-zag stitch consistent (if you turn the work as your machine runs the v's will vary more in width)
I added a little extra heart on the back for good measure. Aoife had requested a heart t-shirt so I wanted to make sure there was at least one traditional heart in case the design on the front seemed too funky for her taste.
You can scroll back up to the top to see her shiny and bright in the morning sunshine modeling her new shirt. It was a hit, and I was pleased. This is such a great, easy project-- it took about 50 minutes from start to finish. Now for $2 plus a few cents for the fusible webbing and whatever percentage of a cent worth of fabric scraps, my daughter has a shirt she loves that will hopefully be worn by two other girls that will follow her! Appliques are also a great way to convert a boyish shirt into something a girl will adore, and are also a way to make an interesting shirt for a boy-- I've done sharks, an octopus (big mistake, do not try, I almost broke the machine trying to stitch that one on), and other animal kingdom fun on plain shirts to spice up shirts for Liam.
I hope that some of you will give this a try if you haven't already -- it's so much fun and very satisfying to turn something old into something new.