This week we are pleased to have Nicole Scott from "Cole's Corner and Creations" with a great guest post! I LOVED her tutorial on applique'ing ready to wear t shirts so much that I asked her to do one for us. Enjoy! Check out her website and follow on Facebook!

Okay... I have to start this tutorial by telling you I hate the way my hands look in photos. Ugh. why? why do they look so weird? It's like when you hear your voice on an answering machine.... do I really sound like that? No. I don't. And my hands don't look like this either. Okay.... sigh.... I feel better now. On to the picture tutorial. I used to HATE embroidering/appliqueing RTW (ready to wear- or purchased clothing) I would hoop the shirt/onesie/panties and rarely get it centered up, frequently catch the t-shirt and ruin it or have to cut the shirt up the side and then restitch it. All nasty. After combining some great tips from other helpful sewers and lots of trail and error- I've come up with a way of appliqueing RTW that is sooo easy and fun...... You will never hoop a t-shirt again!!! 1. Gather materials.

Gather Materials

Always use a CUT AWAY stabilizer for knits. This will keep the fabric stable so that it won't stretch. VERY important. Invest in both cut and tear away stabilizers. This is the kind I buy. It lasts a long time! Also helpful (but not necessary) is some Sulky iron on tear away. My favorite place to get this is my Mom's sewing room.... shhhhh.... but it's so expensive. I just can't help myself from filching some. She knows. It's not really a secret. Your kids and customers definitely want you to have some iron on tricot. It's a lightweight interfacing for knits that you can find at any fabric store. You iron it on over the design so that it's soft and comfy- hiding all the threads and that itchy cut away stabilizer. 2. Hoop stabilizer. Make sure it is super tight with no bumps. If it's not tight and straight- re do it. Don't be lazy. Trust me- I've done it.

Hoop Stabilizer

3. Prepare shirt for applique. *Always wash your garment first. Always. *Iron it out. *find the center front of the t-shirt by placing side seams together and shoulder seams together

Press Fold

and shoulder seams together

Press Fold

Press that fold- good.

Crease Shirt

Yes- you want a big, sharp, crisp crease in the middle of your shirt.

Final Crease

After this you can skip ahead to step 4 or use the optional iron on tearaway for a really foul proof way. I usually skip ahead... unless it's for a customer that's not family. Te he he Step 3 Optional: Cut a piece of iron on tear away the size of your hoop. Fold it in half

Tear Away

Fold it in half again

Fold It Again

Line it up on your shirt placing it where you want your design to be and matching up the center folds.

Center Fold Tearaway

Did you match up the center fold on your t-shirt and on the iron on tearaway? Now iron on the stabilizer.

Ironed Center Crease

Chances are- you've ironed out your center crease. It's okay. Just fold the t-shirt again in half and then in half again to recreate your creases. You want them- remember.

Shirt Hoop

Step 4. Placing the shirt in the hoop. Gather materials.

Gather Applique Materials

Must have for applique- Sulky Temporary Adhesive. Yes- it's expensive- but it will make your projects look so much more professional and last longer. Trust me. Just print a 40% off coupon from Hobby Lobby and get some. No. I don't smoke! That little daisy ashtray was my Granny's and I just love it for holding extra bobbins and pins. Spray your hoop with the Sulky. Then place the t-shirt in the hoop starting with one quarter. Line up the folds with the arrows on your hoop.

Fold Shirt

Slowly fold open the shirt- making sure it is centered up with the arrows on the hoop and the folds of your shirt.

Smooth Shirt

Smooth t-shirt out and make sure it's stuck to the stabilizer.

Pin Edges

Open up the shirt and begin to pin around the edges.

Pins As Close To Edges

Keep the pins as close to the edge as you can. They will mess up your machine if they're in the way... ask me how I know.

Creases Shirt


Don't worry about the creases in the shirt. Trust me. Just trust me. Leave them.

Green Shirt

Step 5. Gather supplies

Applique Embroidery Supplies

I use Embroidery needles most of the time, but when I'm appliqueing something knit- I always switch to a stretch or ballpoint needle. Take the time to do this. It definitely makes a difference. As a beginner seamstress, I never changed my needles- it's a very rookie mistake. Make sure your needle fits your fabric and change them if they are old or bent. and start appliqueing.

Machine Embroidery

Make sure the shirt is not under the hoop or hanging down where you're embroidering.

Prepare Fabrics Applique

Step 6. Prepare fabrics for applique. I use Heat and Bond light on the back of mine. If I'm in a super hurry- I just use the Sulky spray- but I've found it's worth it to take the time to iron on some adhesive.

Head Bond Applique Embroidery

After you iron on the heat and bond- allow it to cool for a few seconds before moving it to the machine. Then peel off the backing and place it on your t-shirt- you may want to spray it with some Sulky first- especially if you are using a cotton fabric. I like to use knits for appliqueing t-shirts when I can.


This is knit, so I didn’t spray it but don't iron yet!

Applique Machine Embroidery

Continue appliqueing until all the pieces are stitched in place. Remember to use WSS over any fabrics with pile.

Satin Stitch Machine Embroidery

Step 7: Now this is the most important part!!!! NEVER LEAVE YOUR MACHINE TO SATIN STITCH WITHOUT WATCHING IT. Just don't do it. If you need to pee, get something for the kids, grab the phone... whatever.... pause your machine. The fabric from the shirt hanging over can too easily shift and get caught under your needle ruining everything you've done. Ask me how I know. Just stay at the machine. Stuff you can do: *sketch other projects *make a grocery list *listen to music *sing to kids *play Barbies or puppets- by the machine! *watch episodes of The Office on your itouch (just be ready to hit that stop button if you need to) *get up and walk in place to the beat of the embroidery machine- that's fun... but I don't do it as much as I should *or call one of your sister in laws and chat while it's stitching out

Anything, anything, but leaving it.

Okay good. Step 8: You're almost done! If you're going to sew on any embellishments, do that now- while the shirt is still in the hoop. I love adding bows and buttons to my appliques.

Buttons Applique

Now, pull off the tear away stabilizer- if you ironed it on. My kids love helping with this step.

Tear Stabilizer

Now carefully... very carefully cut around the cut away stabilizer. Not too close, now.

Press Back

Now, press the back- setting all the heat and bond. Then cut some tricot for the back. Don't be stingy- no one wants anything scratchy on their skin.


Turn it inside out and you're done!

Final Applique Embroidery

Now wasn't that easy?

Now you can make t-shirts easier and faster.