Sunday, November 28, 2010

T-Shirt Applique (cheater refashion)

Well, this isn't really a refashion. It's more of a repair and upgrade. I found this Motherhood Maternity t-shirt with a small hole in the chest but it was otherwise a clean, looked hardly worn, and in my size (for now) etc. I brought it home and had a few ideas up my sleeve for ways to cover the hole and improve the overall look. Maternity clothes afterall are usually duds. This was definitely a dud in it's former life. Boring color, but I like the puckered seam along the sides of maternity t-shirts which are like an attempt to elongate what can't be elongated.

For the red0, I dug and found an old paisley halter from a few years ago. Paisley and halter are somehow an oxymoron in my brain, and I think that's why I loved it in it's my? glory way back when. Anyway, it was knit, so I knew it wouldn't require a lot of finishing if I incorporated it into a new look.

Basically, all I did was make an applique with the paisley and iron/stitch it strategically on the dud of a shirt. For anyone who wants to learn how to make cute and easy projects that don't require a lot of sewing skill, this is your kind of project. A lot of my friends have asked me about this lately, so I'll give a little information for anyone who doesn't know how. There are also some much clearer tutorials out there (feel free to leave a comment if you know of any off the top of your head!), but I want to include where I tend to get stuck each time, so that you'll save yourselves the time and headaches that I often run into.

I used to use Wonder Under a lot for appliques, but the last time I bought it, it had very little adhesive so on my last few applique projects, I have used this other stuff called Steam a Seam 2. It comes in sheets instead of yardage and is heavy duty and so much easier to prepare than Wonder Under. I think it's more expensive, but with coupons (Hobby Lobby is where mine came from and they have coupons each week online), it costs peanuts for the milage you'll get.

There are basically two ironing steps with appliques. Your fabric to your webbing, and then your webbed fabric to your garment. In the middle is cutting your shape (if it isn't cut before your first ironing step, but I don't advise this or you might cause yourself a mess by a hot iron touching adhesive without fabric on top AND it is much harder to cut fabric cleanly without paper stuck to it). The final step is stitching around the borders to make it really official.

So this means that first, iron your fabric onto the fusible adhesive. Read directions on whatever brand you use. Even though it might sound wasteful, I think it's always best to iron a square or rectangle, or the entire sheet of webbing and THEN cut what you need. Because most of us aren't freehand cutters, you can trace designs from the internet, books, whatever if you want to create an applique onto fabric that isn't your actual design - for example, if you wanted to make a "L" with polka dot fabric, you could use a pencil and trace the "L" using the font and size on the back of the fusible paper). Keep in mind you might be tracing backwards depending on what kind of paper you have. I've had some blond moments where I may have well traced "Ambulance" because it came out backwards. :) FOCUS WELLS!

In my case tonight, I didn't to trace anything, I just fused a big chunk of the paisley fabric onto the webbing and then cut out pieces as close to the boarder of the paisley as possible. I decided on my placement (to cover the small hole), peeled off the backing, and ironed again.

The final step is stitching around the design. After all this work, this is sometimes where I end up doing something really dumb like sewing the neck shut. FOCUS AGAIN WELLS! I'm still learning, but even with my fancy machine, I have a really hard time making pretty borders around curves, so if your sewing machine's feed-dog lowers, go ahead and lower it to help you drive around the curves a little more smoothly. I'm a bit partial to a straight (even though mine is typically crooked) stitch just inside the applique, allowing the true border to curl up or fray. With a fancier bulkier stitch over the edge of the applique onto your garment, it has to be perfect, but with the ragged look, you can by type B like me! The beauty of a knit fabric is that it won't fray, but for other fabrics, it may fray, but the fray distance (I'm making up so many terms right now but I hope you'll get the drift) is so tiny since your stitch is so close to the edge of the fabric anyway. If you're sewing a heavier fabric onto something lighter, or if you're using a tight/short zig-zag stitch around the perimeter of your applique, I'd also recommend using some kind of interfacing on the back side of the garment as to avoid any puckering. I didn't need that for this (and I rarely use it anyway).

Have I lost everyone with this nonsense? Have I lost my own mind yet? Do you wonder if you've lost your mind for reading this post?

Well, that's it. All there is. An appliqued paisey-from-old-halter on a maternity-holey (not Holy)-shirt.


Leslie said...

I was just doing my normal "refashion search" and came across your post. Very cute update on the maternity shirt! I have only done like applique pieces and most of them were reverse applique but it is a fun and simple way to jazz something up, or like in this case, cover a problem spot :)