Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Embellishing T-shirts With Coloring Sheets!

One of my favorite blogs is Made By Joel at  If you haven't checked out his blog, you should!  It is full of ideas for how to make toys, usually from easy to obtain household items like paper and cardboard boxes.  He also has some free coloring sheets, which are truly wonderful.  In a comment on his blog, someone recently mentioned that these designs would look great if they were stitched out, so I thought I would give it a try.  I think this t-shirt looks very unique and cool, and here is a quick tutorial to go along with it.  I do not have an embroidery machine, so this tutorial just requires a regular sewing machine.

1.  Print out the coloring sheet designs you would like to use.  Cut apart the different pictures and arrange them on your t-shirt, pinning them in place.

2.  In order to stitch properly on a stretchy knit like a t-shirt, you need to stabilize the fabric with interfacing.  The best type to use would be tear-away stabilizer meant for use with embroidery machines.  You can buy this at JoAnn Fabrics, among other places.

3.  Cut pieces of this interfacing slightly larger than each picture, and pin them in place on the wrong side of the fabric.  If you turn the shirt inside-out, it would look like this:

4.  Now, set your machine for a zigzag stitch that is about as wide as the lines on the pictures.  You should make this a very short stitch, too.  Then just stitch right on top of the paper.

5.  Whenever you need to turn to follow the lines of the drawing, you should leave the needle down in the fabric, raise the presser foot, and pivot the fabric until you are pointed in the right direction.

6.  Make sure to backstitch to secure the stitching at the beginning and end.

7.  When you are done stitching out the design, tear off the paper from the front.

8.  Then turn the shirt inside-out and gently tear off the stabilizer, being careful that you do not pull out the stitching.

You are done!  That's how easy it is! 

If you would like, you can use multiple colors.

If you would like the designs to be more bold and defined, you should use a true satin stitch.  In other words, make your zigzag stitch very wide and very short.  This will give a very polished look.  I wanted it to look more like a sketch, so I used a narrower, longer zigzag.

My t-shirt definitely would have looked better if I had enlarged the pictures first.  I keep forgetting how big my kids are getting!  This is a size 6 t-shirt, and it is a pretty big canvas.  I am also thinking that I might go back and add some details using fabric paint, just for fun.  What do you think?  Is this something you would try?

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