Reverse Applique T-Shirts

Inspired by these adorable t-shirts made by Amy Tangerine, I made these for Ayla & Baby Boy:

It really wasn't too hard...but I can't guarantee their launder-ability. :) I'll wait until after the photos are taken before I wash them! 

The steps:

  1. Pick a simple block font and cursive print to make your t-shirt saying. 
  2. Print it on computer paper.
  3. Choose a t-shirt to alter and a contrasting color fabric for the block letters.
  4. Use straight pins to pin the saying to the front of the shirt where you want it to be, layering the contrasting fabric BEHIND the front of the t-shirt.  (contrast fabric, then t-shirt, then printed paper on top).
  5. Hand-stitch with a backstitch around the outline of the letters, including any center sections (as in B, R and O).
  6. When you've finished stitching, gently tear away the paper (GENTLY).  You should see an outline of the letters you just stitched on the t-shirt.
  7. Inside each letter, carefully separate the t-shirt from the contrasting fabric so that you can cut a small hole in the t-shirt fabric.  Do NOT cut through the contrasting fabric or the stitching.
  8. Trim carefully around the inside of the stitched outline to reveal the contrasting fabric underneath.
  9. Turn the t-shirt inside out and trim away any excess contrasting fabric.
  10. When the block letters are finished, pin the cursive word above the block letters on the front of the t-shirt.  Use several pins to be sure it stays put.
  11. Hand-stitch with a backstitch along the cursive font. 
  12. When you've finished stitching the font, gently tear away the paper and you're finished!


  • Use a light gray font on the paper and a contrasting thread color so that you can easily see where you've stitched.

I need some practice still, but I like how they turned out.  And I like the price.  I had everything on hand except the t-shirt for Ayla and brown thread.  Total cost: $4.50.  When compared with the prices you'd pay in a store...likely $30 each or more...


6 comments so far:

Boston DUI Lawyer said:

Those shirts are really cute. I have a towel that says little fish while my brother has one that says big fish, it's our nicknames from football. I like embroidered things though now and it's really fun to put names on different things especially when the names are goofy. For a birthday present for a friend I made him a shirt with his jedi name on it and he loved it.

esampson said:

These shirt appliques are so adorable! And the steps make it seem like a pretty simple process that won't take much time! It doesn't get any better than that! :D

LesleMora said:

Very cool looking.

Prlinehan said:

Cute. Nothing beats thrifty & crafty. :)

elizbailey said:

These turned out so cute! 
When you do wash them, you may want to let them air dry.  The one I made for Savannah a while back started to fray a little bit around the cuts. 

mickey said:

The art on T-shirts really looks nice.I would also like to gift it to my little brother.I think it will take much less time to design it.Thanks a lot for such a great idea. 

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