How to Decorate Girls' T-Shirts

Springtime Shadow Applique T-Shirt
A girls' t-shirt craft worth watering the flowers in.
A girls' t-shirt craft worth watering the flowers in.

Many wearable crafts emphasize primary colors, but this delicate appliqué t-shirt features the soft pastels of silk flowers.

What You'll Need:

  • White t-shirt
  • 2 or 3 bunches of silk flowers in at least 2 different sizes and colors (we used large pink mums and small purple violets)
  • 1 bunch of silk ivy leaves
  • 1/2 yard organza, or chiffon
  • Approximately 100 pearls, 3mm each
  • 15-20 crystal E beads
  • 4 acrylic stars, 15mm each
  • 2 yards 1/2-inch-wide lace with bound edge
  • Tracing paper, or clear self-adhesive shelving paper
  • Double-sided fusible webbing
  • 2 pressing cloths
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Shirt board
  • Washable fabric glue
  • Straight pins

How to Make Springtime Shadow Applique T-Shirt:

Step 1: Lay t-shirt on flat surface. Pull shoulder seams slightly forward so they are visible at front of shirt. Smooth the rest of shirt out into its true shape.Step 2: Cut a piece of tissue paper or clear shelving paper large enough to cover front of t-shirt from approximately armhole to armhole and from top of shoulder to below armholes. Lay tissue paper over top of shirt and pin in place. If you are using clear shelving paper, remove paper backing and adhere sticky side to top of shirt.

Step 3: Determine top of yoke pattern by tracing around neckline about 1 inch below neck ribbing. Measure shoulder seam to determine width of yoke pattern. The length of the shoulder seam is the width of the yoke pattern.

Mark pattern on tissue or shelving paper.

Step 4: Measure and mark that distance in regular increments as you move measuring tape around the neck (measure from the line that you marked off for the top of the yoke pattern). Complete pattern by tracing shoulder seams. (See photo for clarification.) If you are using tissue paper, mark an X on right side of the pattern.

Trace pattern on fusible webbing.

Step 5: Remove tissue or shelving paper pattern from t-shirt and cut out yoke along outline. Pin pattern wrong side up on paper backing of fusible webbing and trace yoke pattern. If using shelving paper, stick pattern to adhesive side of web; then trace. Remove pattern and cut yoke out of adhesive web along outline.

Place fusible webbing on t-shirt.

Step 6: Place fusible webbing, adhesive side down, on t-shirt. Adjust and smooth out t-shirt so webbing covers entire yoke area below neck ribbing. Following manufacturer's instructions, bond webbing to t-shirt. Remove paper backing.

Cut out yoke pattern on the organza.

Step 7: Pin or stick pattern right side up on organza and cut yoke out. Leave pattern attached to organza yoke until you are ready to use it to identify the right side of the yoke. Set aside.

Step 8: Remove silk flowers and leaves from stems. Separate layers of flowers. Some flowers may require wire cutters to remove center. Discard any plastic parts of flowers, including centers. Press flowers and leaves slightly to flatten.

Arrange flowers and leaves over webbing.

Step 9: Arrange flowers and leaves over webbing, overlapping as desired. When satisfied with arrangement, tack in place by pressing the point of a hot iron to each flower and leaf for a second or two.

Step 10: Remove yoke pattern from organza yoke and place organza yoke right side up over floral arrangement, covering all of the webbing.

Cover yoke area with pressing cloth.

Step 11: Cover yoke area with pressing cloth. Following manufacturer's instructions, bond floral arrangement under organza to t-shirt. Pressing cloth may stick to organza slightly, but can be removed with a gentle pull.

Roll pearls into place with toothpick.

Step 12: Slip t-shirt over shirt board. Working on a single flower at a time, squeeze a small circle of fabric glue on center of a larger flower. Drop about 15-20 pearls into glue, using a toothpick to roll them into place. The size of glue circle and number of pearls needed will vary with each flower.

Step 13: On smallest flowers, place a drop of glue in center of each and place 3 crystal E beads in glue. Arrange acrylic stars on t-shirt. Carefully lifting each star from shirt, use toothpick to coat back of stars with fabric glue. Glue stars in place on garment. Allow glue to dry.

Press lace into glue along bottom edge of yoke.

Step 14: Cut lace long enough to fit along bottom edge of yoke from shoulder to shoulder. At right shoulder, squeeze a 3-inch line of glue along bottom edge of organza. With ruffles pointing down, press bound edge of lace into glue.

Step 15: Pin lace in place every inch, inserting pin through lace, t-shirt, and into shirt board. Repeat gluing along bottom of yoke. Cut lace long enough to fit along top edge of yoke and repeat, gluing lace just below ribbing. Cut 2 pieces of lace to fit over each shoulder seam. Glue to shirt at each shoulder.

TIP: Test flowers and leaves for color fastness by soaking them in water and gentle soap for a few minutes. Agitate gently in soapy water. Check water for excessive dye. Rinse flowers and leaves and place on paper towel to dry.

More bright, bursting tie-dye action in the next wearable craft.

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