Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Layered Knit Applique Tutorial

Hello, Project Run and Play readers! I'm Michelle from Handmade Martini, and I am thrilled to be joining you today!

Here's a confession: I've been following PR&P since Season One. I remember eagerly subscribing to each of the contestants' blogs and being amazed and inspired by their work. (Still am.) When the lovely ladies announced there would be a sew-along a few seasons in, I did a little dance.

(Right now I'm reigning myself in so I don't become weird-fan-turns-creeper blog guest.)

Today I'd like to show you one of the first things I made for my boys. . . a layered knit applique t-shirt. These are great because they get better with each wash, they can be personalized with your child's interests, and they require very little fabric if you use a store-bought t-shirt.

So, let's get started!

I chose to mimic a Mini-Boden t-shirt. Mini-Boden is my favorite source for great appliques. This t-shirt is sold out, but it was an infants' shirt that immediately caught my pirate-loving boys' eyes.

For this version, I used store-bought t-shirts. Of course you could make your own, too!

1. Pick your design. Trace it or sketch it out on thin paper of your choosing.
2. Trace over your pencil markings in fine-tipped marker ink.
3. Flip the design over and trace it again in marker on the other side. (You'll be working with the mirror image of your original design.)

4. Place your double-sided fusible web product (I prefer Wonder Under) on top of your mirror image. Trace each element of the design separately onto the smooth side of the fusible web. As you're tracing, try to think about which pieces will be layered under others and include a little extra there. For example, I knew my pirate's coat would go under his beard, so I extended the coat a tad. You want to layer the pieces where they meet.
5. Be sure to include each element. It's helpful to label the colors of each piece.
6. Roughly cut around each piece of fusible web and iron it onto the wrong side of your knit fabric according to the product's directions. (I was making two shirts here, which is why you see two of each piece.)

7. Cut around your traced lines for each piece.
8. Peel off the backing of your fusible web to reveal the other sticky side.
9. Arrange the pieces on the shirt, making sure pieces are layered just how you want them.

10. Once your pieces are arranged to your liking, iron to set the fusible web according to the package directions.
11. Stitch around the pieces. I prefer to use a straight stitch on knit applique. (I use a ball point needle.) This part can be tedious, especially if you have several pieces and change out your thread for each color. Just take it slow and enjoy the process. (Ha. Or just listen to Hunger Games on audio to distract you from the tedium.)
12. For tiny pieces (like eyes), I use the manual wheel on my machine to help with accuracy.

13. To get all those threads from the front to the back, flip the shirt inside out. Pull on one of the exposed threads. A loop will appear.
14. Use the dull end of your seam ripper (or a needle or something), insert it into the loop, and pull the thread through from the front of the fabric.
15. Tie off. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. (Seriously. Audio books are the best thing to happen for my sewing life.)

17. I prefer to iron lightweight fusible interfacing onto the inside of the shirt over the tied threads. They can get scratchy.
18. Embroider details that can't be appliqued - like eyes, eyebrows, hooks, etc. It's pretty easy to find instructions for basic embroidery stitches online.

The possibilities are endless with this type of applique! It takes some time for complicated ones, but the end result is pretty awesome.

Here are some others I've unabashedly knocked off from Boden. I blogged about the hedgehog t-shirt and the train t-shirts if you're interested.

Thank you so much for having me! Enjoy your summer, everyone!

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  1. This is amazing, and shows much love, patience and skill! Thanks for sharing! (I love seeing unique boy pieces!)

    1. Thanks, Nichole! I love seeing unique boy things, too!

  2. Great appliqued shirts! And, thanks for the tip about the threads..I guess I never thought to do that, just always clipped them off close to the fabric. But this makes for a much more finished product. You have much more patience than I, sewing all those tiny pieces!!

    1. Hahaha, Marnae! In sewing, my inner nitpick comes through in a way it can't with three messy kids running around. ;)

  3. What a great tutorial! Thank you so much for sharing :)


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