DIY Applique Shirt Tutorial


I just love all the adorable appliqué shirts that boutique shops and etsy sell.  Of course, I always splurged when it was just Brooke, but with three girls I knew I had to figure out any easy way to make these shirts (no sewing machine, of course) to fit in our budget.  I have a lot of scrap fabric on hand, so the cost of each shirt is usually under $5.  Wal-Mart, Old Navy and Target have great plain colored shirts, gerber onesies work well, and hobby lobby also sells plain colored t-shirts.  If I am buying fabric for the shirts, I usually buy 1/8 – 1/4 of a yard, and that always ends up being around a dollar or two! I had several “fails” and shirts that didn’t last through the wash, but learned a process that works for us!  For the wash….I usually turn them inside out when washing, then line-dry them.  Of course, many times I forget and throw them in the dryer, but they have still held together quite nicely!

a few shirt ideas…

  I have had many requests for a tutorial, so I hope this helps explain the process.  If you have any questions, please feel free to comment or email me!!!

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What you will need…
T-Shirt or Onesie
Heat n’ Bond Ultrahold No-Sew Adhesive  (click to see product)
Thread (I usually use embroidery floss)

For the “template”.  I get inspiration for different designs on etsy.  Sometimes, if it is easy enough I will freehand a design.  Many times, I create a “template” on PicMonkey.  I love this editing program because they have great fonts and basic images.  You could also google an image (whale, apple, etc.) and use that as well!

PicMonkey Collage
If you decide to use picmonkey – here is a quick visual on a simple template.  I just save a “white image” through google, then I edit it using the program.  I find the font I like, and enlarge it.  Then, I flip it (this will make sense later!).  I save the photo, then insert it into a word document.  I measure the width of the shirt, and decide how large I want the image to be.  I adjust the photo in word and print it out.  I really hope this all makes sense.  🙂

Let’s get started!!!


Step 1 // Trace your template.  The reason you flip the image, is so that it makes it easier to trace the image. Place the heat and bond sheet paper side up on top of your template.  With a pencil, trace the outline of your image.

Step 2 // Take your image and place it (paper side up) on the backside of your fabric.  Set the heat n’ bond with a hot iron (no steam) for about 10 – 15 seconds.  Allow this to cool for a few minutes.

Step 3 // Cut out your image/letters….then peel the paper backing off.

Step 4 // Place the image/letters on the shirt and make sure the placement is exactly how you like them.  Take your iron and hold on the fabric pieces for 15-20 seconds.  Allow to cool.  You are almost done!!!

Step 5 // I forgot to take a picture – but it helps (and looks cute!) if you stitch around the edges to secure the fabric pieces.  If you have a sewing machine, you can stitch around the edges that way.  Since I am sewing machine challenged, I usually take a needle and thread, turn the Voice on hulu, and hand stitch around the edges. It’s kind of therapeutic.

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the finished product!

Super Easy right?!?  I hope you enjoy making your very own appliqué shirts – my little girls LOVE their personalized shirts!

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Here are a few links to some other blogs with some great tutorials:

Happy Crafting!!!


8 thoughts on “DIY Applique Shirt Tutorial

    1. Hi Sandra!
      The heat and bond secures the fabric to the shirt. I haven’t had any problems with excessive fraying (it may be very slight depending on the fabric). I also try to line dry my applique shirts! I hope that helps! 🙂

  1. Hello, do you still have the love(with mustache) and dream big templates? I know they were free when she still had her blog. Please let me know if you still have them and are willing it share. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for taking time to look for these!!! It appears that someone has taken over her templates, when I click on any of the DIY appliqués it leads me to a “scribd” website and they charge to download her templates. If you happened to run across any of her old templates on your computer, please let me know. Thanks again!

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