Wear Your Favorite Animal Close to Your Heart

comments (5) May 9th, 2017     

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kaytet kayte terry, contributor
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Tell everyone you heart squirrels, parakeets, iguanas . . . whatever you want.
Choose different fabrics for each design element or, if you prefer, use the same fabrics.
Stitch around the perimeter of each shape.
Tell everyone you heart squirrels, parakeets, iguanas . . . whatever you want.

Tell everyone you heart squirrels, parakeets, iguanas . . . whatever you want.

Photo: Kayte Terry
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When I was a teenager, my brother Jesse came home with a squirrel one day. Jesse was in elementary school and, on his short walk home, a baby squirrel started following him, then ran up his leg, and finally settled on his shoulder. My brother, in a mix of confusion and pure joy, ran home to my parents, the squirrel tagging along for the ride.

My mom took the squirrel to the Audubon Society, and the staff told her that the squirrel had probably been abandoned by his mother, that he was too young to let back into the wild, and that it would be great if we could raise him for a few months. The experts also said that the little squirrel may have some neurological damage but that wouldn't be clear until the squirrel got older. And so, for just a little while, we had a pet squirrel. We named him Chip.

We grew to love Chip like we loved our other pets. We had lots of pets at this time: two cats, two mice, an iguana, a frog, several anoles, and, briefly, a conure. A squirrel seemed like a natural addition to our little zoo. Chip slept in my mom's pocket when she worked at home and played with my brother and me when we were home from school.

But we knew that our time together would be short. When Chip got big enough, we would let him go out more to climb trees, eat nuts, and all the other things squirrels should do. Eventually, we let Chip go and said goodbye.

A few months later, we learned that Chip indeed had some neurological damage and had to be put down. My mom made a plaque for him that read: "In Memory of My Greatest Animal Friend-Chip the Squirrel" and we put it in the back yard beneath the tree he learned to climb on. It was sad, but we hoped that he enjoyed the short time he had with us.

This project is dedicated to Chip.

I provided a squirrel template, but you can also use an image of your own. For good animal silhouette, look through Dover's copyright-free images and enlarge the silhouette as desired. You can find nearly any animal you can think of in these books.


  • Paper-backed fusible webbing
  • Marker
  • Paper and fabric scissors
  • Scraps of cotton fabric
  • Iron
  • T-shirt
  • Cardboard
  • Sewing machine and contrasting thread

Make the appliquéd T-shirt

1. Print out the PDF of the template and cut out the design.

Roughly cut the shapes.

2. Trace the templates onto one side of the paper-backed sheet of fusible webbing with a marker, and roughly cut out each template with paper scissors.

Choose different fabrics for each design element or, if you prefer, use the same fabrics.

Iron the fusible webbing to the reverse side of the fabrics.

3. Choose fabrics: You can use different fabrics for the design. Peel the paper backing off the fusible webbing (not the side you traced on), and fuse to the wrong side of the chosen fabric with an iron according to the manufacturer's instructions. Continue to do this with all the elements of the design.

Carefully cut out the design elements.

4. Cut out each of the elements of your design and peel off the other paper backing.

5. Lay the T-shirt on a flat surface. Slip a piece of cardboard inside the T-shirt between the front and back, to protect the back of the shirt.

Lay out the design on the shirt front.

6. Lay out and arrange the design on the shirt. Fuse it to the T-shirt with an iron according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Stitch the perimeter of each shape.

7. With your sewing machine set to a straight stitch, sew the perimeter of all design elements about 1/4 inch in from their edges. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each part of the design. Clip the threads.

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posted in: t-shirt, pet

Comments (5)

CouponMoto writes: Great Idea. Looking easy to make this one.
Posted: 8:35 am on October 19th
MahbubA writes: Great Idea carry on
Posted: 10:16 am on December 19th
Mugwaii writes: cute t-shirt
Posted: 10:57 pm on March 30th
Eternal_Clouds writes: thats so cool im totally going to do a turtle!!!!
Posted: 10:38 pm on March 7th
KMOM14 writes: Very cute idea. My niece has a birthday coming up and her family is into racoons and might try this project.
Posted: 7:58 pm on February 12th
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