Monday, October 20, 2008

Altering hand me downs - a fabric applique tutorial

This weekend was one of those rare occassions when we had relatively few obligations and I actually found some time to work on some projects.

I'd been wanting to do something with these old sweatshirts that my son wore. They're the perfect size for my daughter but were covered in stains and not very feminine. So I decided to spruce them up with some fabric appliques. It's a simple process but I thought I'd do a quick how to for those who haven't done it before.

What you'll need:
Sweatshirt or other piece of clothing you want to alter
Fabric for the applique
Heat N' Bond
Sewing machine (optional)
Needle and embroidery thread (optional)
Buttons (optional)

I knew I wanted some simplistic nature silhouettes for these sweatshirts but didn't really have the confidence to draw them freehand so I searched online for free clipart until I found images that I could print out and trace. I did have to alter them slightly to make them big enough and to make sure they covered all the stained areas of my sweatshirts. I had to alter the branch pattern several times to cover all the stains on the orange sweatshirt and had to use a heart shape here and there as well.

Once your image is the right size and shape you'll need to transfer it to the Heat N' Bond. Be sure to reverse your pattern (Notice in the picture below how the deer on the Heat N' Bond is reversed in direction from the finished product. This is imperative if you have an image that needs to face a certain way. if your image does not have a right and wrong side then this is not an issue) and trace it on to the paper side of the Heat and Bond.

Cut around your image but do not cut on the lines. Then apply your Heat and bond to your fabric per the manufacturer's instructions. Be sure to apply the Heat N' Bond to the WRONG SIDE of your material. One of the fabrics pictured here is a woven fabric and therefore doesn't have a right and a wrong side so I dont' want that to confuse you.

Once your heat and bond is applied to your applique fabric, cut out the image. Peel the paper backing off and position it on your garment. Then adhere it with your iron following the manufacturer's instructions.

A note on Heat N' Bond. Heat N' Bond can be purchased at most craft/fabric stores in varying strengths. I used the lightweight version because that's what I had on hand and I like it because it's not too stiff and is fully sewable. I knew that I wanted my applique pieces to be stitched onto the sweatshirt as that was the look I was going for. However, if you're not a huge fan of sewing or want to make this project even quicker, be sure to purchase a very strong/heavy duty version of Heat and Bond (look for "Ultrahold") that can withstand repeated wearings and washings without needing sewing reinforcement around the edges.

I sealed the edges of my appliques with the blanket sitch setting on my sewing machine. If your sewing machine does not have this option or any other decorative stitch, then a small zigzag stitch over the edges or even normal straightline stitching along the edge of the appliqued piece will keep it in place just fine during wear and washings.

I felt that my bird and branch applique needed more detail so I enhanced it with some hand stitching. 2 strands of embroidery thread, a needle and a simple running stitch was all it took to add some more charm to this piece. To finish off the fawn I simply added some buttons.

Here are a couple more pictures of the finished products.

This is my first tutorial so I hope that I made the directions clear and concise and that you'll find this information inspiring and helpful. Post a comment or send me an email if you have any specific questions that this post did not cover.


nattybumbum said...

I was just looking for a tutorial to help me with this. This is perfect thanks!

Molly said...

This is great! Reminds me of some shirts I've seen in the Boden kids catalog. I'm definitely going to be trying this. Good job on the tutorial... the directions sound very clear and doable!

Diane said...

Well done! Great idea to cover up stained clothing. I just appliqued a deer to a skirt that I made - wish that I'd had your clear directions back then.

lissa_c said...

This was very well done and helpful! Please bring us more! :)