How to Embellish a T-Shirt with Embroidery and Buttons

comments (8) March 25th, 2009     

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erika_kern Erika Kern, contributor
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A few simple stitches and vintage buttons add an adorable accent to this simple gray T-shirt.
A beautiful tee, ready for Sunday brunch and a day of shopping. So stylish!
Embroidery floss and buttons are all you need to accent any boring piece of clothing.
A few simple stitches and vintage buttons add an adorable accent to this simple gray T-shirt.

A few simple stitches and vintage buttons add an adorable accent to this simple gray T-shirt.

Photo: Erika Kern

Sometimes you look in your closet and everything looks blah. That's when a bit of creativity and some embroidery floss come in handy. The other day, I was looking at my closet, hating everything I saw, but instead of grabbing my credit cards and heading off to the shops, I grabbed my needle and got to work on an old gray T-shirt.

Want to freshen up your wardrobe for spring?

Here's what you'll need:

  • Item of clothing that needs refreshing (T-shirts, skirts, dresses, and sweaters are all great candidates for this project)
  • Scissors
  • Embroidery floss (I used DMC's new line of Linen Floss in Ecru [LECRU] and Pink [L760])
  • Buttons
  • Needle
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Stabilizer (optional, but super-handy; I'm a big fan of Solvy)

The T-shirt I picked had a very unflattering neckline, so the first thing I did was to cut the collar off and shape the new neckline into a deep scoop neck. To keep the fabric from stretching out to Flashdance proportions, I used a chain stitch to lock the shape of the neckline in place.

Once I had my neckline figured out and stitched, it was time to move on to the buttons.


Use your floss to sew on the buttons. I used four stitches to sew on each button so that the stitches really stand out.

I used three vintage buttons, but you could go crazy with buttons and flowers!


Use a pen to draw your flower design around your buttons. I went for a heart-shaped bud-style flower.

If your fabric is dark, you can use a white chalk marker to make your flowers.

If you are working on a T-shirt, it's a great idea to use a stabilizer behind your fabric (I covered this in my last T-shirt stitching post), but if you don't have any stabilizer handy, worry not!


No stabilizer, no problem! You just need to be more aware of the tension in your stitches. Use your fingers to hold the tension in your stitches without puckering the fabric.

Keep your stitches simple when working on stretch fabric. I used a backstitch for all my flowers.


The finished embroidery. I added a few French knots at the top of my flowers for more pop!

A beautiful tee, ready for Sunday brunch and a day of shopping. So stylish!
posted in: embroidery, buttons

Comments (8)

Mugwaii writes: Beautiful t-shirt. I like the idea. I can't wait to do this project onto a plain t-shirt.
Posted: 10:38 pm on March 28th
Apachewmn writes: What a great idea. I'll have to try that.
I do have another question about your T-shirt: I'd like to learn what is the best way to change the collar to get the effect of your Tee? Thanks!
Posted: 2:23 pm on July 14th
themadtailor writes: The perfect project to take along on vacation or to the cottage! I have hundreds of buttons from my mother, MIL, and my own 30 year collection. Thinking madly of ways to embellish my 7-year-old granddaughter's T-shirts. I'll get started this weekend!
Posted: 12:07 pm on July 14th
whimsy_chidori writes: I have several shirts I've never known what to do with, but couldn't justify getting rid of. Thanks so much for the idea!
Posted: 11:11 pm on May 7th
erika_kern writes: Thanks so much! So happy you like it.
Posted: 1:04 am on April 2nd
JennieC writes: Wonderful!
Posted: 10:19 pm on March 31st
Paws2 writes: How cute!!! I was out shopping last night and picked up an inexspensive tank top for the summer.....I'll use your idea creating something unique while using some of my buttons that I don't have a large number of. Thanks!!!
Posted: 7:54 am on March 28th
CraftyElf writes: As I was reading the instructions my mind was racing. I have some tees that would be wonderful to create on. I thank you very much. It not only looks good it will be great fun to do.
Posted: 2:16 pm on March 25th
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