DIY letter shirts
I’ve never really been a sports fan and I’m almost completely useless in any sports related trivia. However, I’ll take any excuse to get decked out in team colours and cheer.
During summers in Toronto, one of my favourite activities is getting together with a few friends, and buying cheap 500 level tickets to cheer on the Blue Jays. I’m all for foam fingers, face paint, and silly chants. Last friday when we found out that the McMaster Marauders were going to be playing for the Vanier cup at the Rogers Center in Toronto, we jumped at the chance to cheer on our university team (even though I’m really a Waterloo warrior at heart). Getting decked out in maroon was a must, and with 10 of us going, it presented a wonderful opportunity to spell out ‘Marauders’ on our shirts.
I had initially planned on just using fabric paint but then thought, why not use this opportunity to learn something new. Creating a fabric applique makes it easier to have crisp edges, and will survive a little better in the wash. Here are simple step by step instructions on how I added a letter appliqué to my maroon shirt.
You will need a t-shirt, good scissors, either a fabric stiffiner or an iron on adhesive, fabric for your applique, and a print out of the image or letter you want on your shirt.
1. Print out the image or letter you want and cut it out. Place on it your shirt to make sure it’s the perfect size and that you are happy with how it looks. I used the ‘varsity’ style font to give it more of a ‘university’ look.
2. Place your cut out on your stiffiner or iron-on adhesive and trace around it. Then cut this out of the stiffiner leaving a 1 cm border around the original tracing. This margin is optional but helps when you cut out the shape on the fabric. If your image has a hole in the middle of it, you don’t have to cut that part out. It’s easier to just cut it once the adhesive is ironed on to the fabric.
3. Take out your ironing board, and place your fabric that you want to use for the applique with the good side facing down on the the board. Then take your iron-on adhesive and place it on top of your fabric. Make sure the size with the wax is facing down, and the paper side is facing up. With the iron on a low setting (IE. Silk), glide it along the adhesive. Follow the instructions that come with yours. Mine suggested 1-2 seconds.
4. When your adhesive is firmly attached to the fabric, let it cool and cut out the shape using the original tracings. Since you left a 1 cm margin, the stiffness will make it easier to make smooth cuts. Make sure your cut out any circles and shapes in the center of your shapes. I used a ruler and an exacto knife to help keep the edges crisp.
5. You can put the shirt on and mark exactly where you want the letter to sit. A helpful hint to ensure that the letter is right in the middle is to fold your shirt in half, and iron a crease straight down the middle to give you some guidelines.
6. Peel of the paper from the other side of the applique, place it where you want on the shirt, and with the iron still on the low setting, iron on the letter making sure the edges are firmly attached.
7. At this point, the shirt is ready to wear if you want. I personally prefer stitching around the edges just to help it last a little longer.
8. Put your machine in the zigzag stitch mode. The length and width of the stitch depends on the size of your letter and your personal preference.
9. Start the stitch at the bottom and work your way around.