How to Make a Reverse Applique on a T-Shirt by Machine

comments (5) August 30th, 2008     

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JenniferStern Jennifer Stern, contributor
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A close-up of the detail.
My Loved tee.
The completed design freshly out of the washer and dryer.
A close-up of the detail.

A close-up of the detail.

Photo: jen stern
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Have you seen the T-shirts with snappy reverse appliqué designs on them in your favorite stores and boutiques lately? On a recent shopping excursion—which I always justify as "fashion and crafting research"—I stole away to the dressing room to check out these T-shirts. When I looked at the wrong side, I was instantly inspired to tell you how to do it at home! Let me show you a really easy reverse appliqué technique that you can use to create your own design or message on one of your T-shirts. (If you have a tee that has a stain in just the right spot, you can give it a fresh start!) The best part about this project is that you can add your own personality with some hand-embroidered stitches or other embellishments.

Knit fabrics lend themselves beautifully to this technique because you can work with them without worrying about finishing the raw edges—they don’t ravel or fray. We are going to use a machine-embroidered appliqué design in a slightly different way than it was intended to be stitched. Instead of trimming the appliqué fabric away, we are going to stitch through two layers of knit and trim the top layer (the T-shirt) 1/8 inch away from the stitching to create a reverse appliqué. This will create a window for the bottom layer of knit to peek through and become part of the design. There are lots of designs available. If you don't have any on hand, check out embroideryonline.com—I used a heart design that I found there. I picked this design because the appliqué shape (the heart) has a nice smooth outline to work with. Don't pick out a design with a complicated appliqué; you'll shoot yourself when you get to the step where you have to trim it out! If you want to add an embroidered message to go with your appliqué design, you can either stitch traditional embroidered letters or choose a simple outline style letter like I did and I'll show you how to turn that into reverse appliqué, too!

What you’ll need:

A t-shirt
Scraps of knit fabric or another T-shirt in a contrasting color to your tee
Appliqué embroidery design of your choice
Embroidery thread
Soft n' Sheer fusible stabilizer
Tear n' Wash stabilizer
Small sharp scissors

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Comments (5)

karianw writes: this is great! i have been looking for a step by step instruction for my daughters sweat shirt. thanks
Posted: 7:01 pm on January 6th
JenniferStern writes: Thank you Amy, I should start my christmas gift making too!!
Posted: 10:17 pm on September 4th
AmyXSmile writes: As a single Mom on a tight budget, I thank you for a wonderful idea to make some special things for my teenage daughters for Christmas, and with plenty of time, too! I'm sure they will thank you, too.
Posted: 10:45 am on September 2nd
JenniferStern writes: Thanks Lindsay... Did you check out the Post about the Hip Hoodie Free Download that Shannon did? (It's a few posts below this one on the discover tab.) It might work really well in combination with this.
Posted: 10:43 am on August 31st
LindsayTNY writes: I love this! I've got to remember to show this to my teenage daughter who likes embellished t-shirts with a high-end look.
Posted: 7:33 pm on August 30th
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