Reverse Applique a T-Shirt

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This formerly bland shirt gets a boost of style from a hand-sewn reverse applique! This technique can be adapted for any simple design; we chose a pile of rocks, inspired by the creations a family likes to build when walking along the creeks and rivers near their home.
-T-shirt to embellish
-Contrasting jersey scraps
-Contrasting embroidery thread
-Embroidery needle

Step 1

Mark Your Design. Lay out the t-shirt with the right side facing up; smooth or iron it as needed. Pin the template in place and trace it with a vanishing ink pen or chalk.

Step 2

Prep the reverse applique. Cut a contrasting jersey scrap that is 1" larger all around than the marked design. Turn the shirt inside out. Pin the right side of the scrap to the wrong side of the shirt, covering the area to be appliqued.

Step 3

Stitch the outline. Turn the shirt right side out. Bring a knotted length of embroidery thread about as long as your arm from the wrong side of the shirt to the right side on one of the marked guidelines. Working on the right side, hand-sew a running stitch along the marked guidelines. Tie off with a knot inside the shirt.

Step 4

Cut and reveal. Pinch the fabric inside each stitched shape to separate the layers and carefully cut away the top layer (the t-shirt fabric), leaving a 1/4" border inside the stitched lines, to reveal the reverse-appliqué.

Step 5

Excerpted from "Improv Sewing" (c) by Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut, photography (c) by Alexandra Grablewski, illustrations (c) by Ryan McMenamy, used with permission from Storey Publishing.

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