Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Easy Embellishing with Embroidery

These decorative t-shirts are fun projects to make for your children, grandchildren or to give as gifts. They also make an excellent first embroidery project for young ladies because they are so easy and  also useful. I have created some cute ones with onesies, too. Buy a larger plain t-shirt and you can embellish your own. You can find many simple shirts at second hand stores that are perfect for this type of handiwork. All that is required in this project is the basic knowledge of the stem stitch (which is taught below) and a few supplies which are listed later. 

What I really liked was the portability of this project. Everything can be stowed into a small bag and taken with you. Think waiting rooms, visits to mother's, park days, play days… 

The supplies are found inexpensively at craft stores. The rule of embroidery thread is the thinner the fabric, the lighter your thread. You want to use heavier cotton strands for thicker fabrics. When doing these t-shirts, I used two strands of  floss. You can experiment with the looks that you like.

Suggested Supplies:
  • Plain shirts or anything else you want to decorate such as dishtowels, book bags, linens, etc.
  • Iron On Transfer Patterns
  • Embroidery Floss (I use DMC)
  • Embroidery Hoop
  • Embroidery Needles

Any small pieces of ribbons, rick-rack and rose strands make a dainty detail to the neckline. I used a pink stem stitch around the strawberry shirt but used my remnants of rick-rack for the rest. Little beads made for sweet seeds on the strawberry shirt and they dotted the butterfly wings on the other. I am sure you have some goodies laying around that would make darling accents. (Just make sure it isn't a choking hazard for the wearer.)

These old fashioned-style transfers make this an easy project. They are the secret ingredient! You just iron them on your chosen piece and you may re-use each print a few times. They are very affordable and the ideas are limitless when you have these treasures. Once you iron the design on, you just outline the picture with the stem stitch. It's that simple.

Stem Stitch Instructions ~

"The first stitch which is taught to a beginner is the “stem stitch”. It is most useful in work done in the hand, and especially in outlines of flowers, unshaded leaves, and arabesque, and all conventional designs.


"It may be best described as a long stitch forward on the surface, and a shorter one backward on the under side of the fabric, the stitches following each other almost in line from left to right. The effect on the wrong side is exactly that of an irregular back-stitching used by dressmakers, as distinguished from regular stitching. A leaf worked in outline should be begun at the lower or stalk end, and worked round the right side to the top, taking care that the needle is to the left of the thread as it is drawn out. When the point of the leaf is reached, it is best to reverse the operation in working down the left side towards the stalk again, so as to keep the needle to the right of the thread instead of to the left, as in going up."
 ~ Handbook of Embroidery by L. Higgin (1880)


  1. I just started learning to do embroidery and just finished my first set of pillowcases last night. They were the kind with the pattern already stamped on them. It was fun and now I am going to do some boy pillowcases for my son.

    1. Isn't it a blast? I think I love embroidering because it doesn't take precise measurements and yields something pretty without taking eternity. I bet your pillowcases are darling!

  2. Those little onesies are so cute! I like doing small embroidery projects, too, and sometimes a little hint of embroidery really livens up a piece.

    1. I love the small projects too because I actually finish them! :)

  3. I love these old fashioned patterns and the love with which you continue this vintage embroidery. Thanks for sharing. Gail

    1. Thank you :) I am sweet to the old fashioned charms...

  4. Love those cute t-shirts. They're so girly with the embroidery and trim embellishments.

  5. Jes, those little T's are adorable... What a fun way to get started on embroidery! Thank you for sharing them! Deb


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