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My last lesson for the Learn to Sew series was about how to machine appliqué. Normally I publish a practical tutorial for each technique in the series a few days after the lesson, but life got in the way and almost a month went by. Whoops! In the lesson, I showed you how to use an iron-on adhesive (I recommend Heat’n Bond Lite*) to keep appliqué pieces in place while stitching them down. Today I’m going to show you how to use the same technique on t-shirts (or other jersey items) to cover up ugly logos, stains or tears!
So grab your jersey garment and some jersey scraps, and I’ll show you how easy it is to applique a t shirt!
When sewing jersey and other stretch fabrics, you need to consider a few differences from sewing woven fabric. I will eventually write a post about this (update: here is the lesson how how to sew knit fabric!), but if you want to do appliqué on a t-shirt, there are really only two important things to do to complete your project perfectly.
First of all, use a tear-away stabilizer* (on the left). This is basically just a sort of paper that adds volume and consistency to fabric, making it easier to sew it. One of my first experiments with appliqué was on a t-shirt for my daughter almost six years ago, but I didn’t know about stabilizer at that point, and the stitching came out pretty wonky. Stabilizer is the key to getting perfect applique stitches on knit fabric.
The second thing to do is to use a sewing needle for knit fabric* (on the right), not for wovens. This type of needle has a ball point which separates the fiber loops instead of piercing them. What happens if the loops get torn? They open up, creating a little hole in the fabric. And I know that you don’t want that.
Ok, let’s start. First, decide what shape/s to cover your logo with. I decided to make four overlapping circles of different shades of blue. (Yes, I’m slightly obsessed with geometric shapes and with blue ombre effect. They seem to be a recurring theme in my posts. You can see it with these appliqué stripes, this slashed reverse appliqué and these slashed circle embellishments.) Prepare your pieces with Heat’n Bond Lite* (or other fusible adhesive) as detailed in the appliqué lesson.
Appliques can sometimes get a little stiff (especially if the pieces are large, like in my Thumbs Up dress, or if the pieces overlap, as they do here), so I decided to remove the Heat’n Bond from the center of my circles. Look at the picture above. First I traced around a glass for a perfect circle, then traced a smaller glass in the center of it, so that the edges were about 1 cm apart, and cut around the larger circle (#1 above). I then cut out along the inner circle and discarded the center of the adhesive, then applied it to the wrong side of the appliqué fabric (#2 above). Then I cut out the appliqué piece along the outer circle (#3 above) and applied it as you normally would.
Turn the t-shirt inside out and pin the stabilizer to the wrong side of the fabric, taking care to position it correctly (top). I put my hand inside the shirt and pin from the inside, but if you don’t like the idea of turning the shirt right side out with straight pins, you can use safety pins instead. Then turn the shirt right side out and add more pins to keep the stabilizer better in place (bottom).
Look how nice and perfect the stitches come out when you use stabilizer (top)! Remove the pins and turn the shirt inside out again (bottom). If your stitches are very close together, chances are that the stabilizer has started to tear on its own, as you can see happened here.
Gently tear off the stabilizer. Pull the stabilizer to the side, not pull straight up, which could damage the stitches. (The same principle as when removing tissue paper from stitching in PUL fabric.)
It’s ok if some stabilizer remains under the stitching (top). It won’t bother anyone and might just wash out in the laundry anyway. Turn the shirt right side out again, press it to flatten out any waviness (bottom).
Much better without giving some company free advertising!
Wear your logo-free (or stain-free or rip-free) t-shirt with pride!
This tutorial on how to applique a t shirt is part of the syllabus of Cucicucicoo’s beginner’s sewing course! Don’t forget to share pictures of your work on the Cucicucicoo Creations Flickr Group or the Cucicucicoo Facebook page!
*This post contains affiliate links.