How to Alter a T-shirt: Reverse Applique

Decorate a plain T-shirt using a simple reverse applique technique! You can keep this simple or add an extra layer of quilting as I did!

I love creating unique DIY T shirt ideas to elevate the basic classic white T-shirt. Some times I choose to sew, some times paint. Check out these posts for more inspiration- Tie Dyeing With Ice Tutorial, Tips+ VIDEO!, How To Use Iron On Vinyl, and Old T Shirts Crafts Idea: Repurpose to make EASY Flowers.

I tried an easy reverse applique technique today- you sew an extra piece of fabric (with batting to create a soft fluffy texture) beneath the T shirt, draw a design of your choice on top of the T shirt, sew around the design to hold the batting in place and then carefully cut away the top T-shirt fabric. When you cut out the T shirt and reveal the fabric beneath, the whole shirt is transformed!

Monogram T shirt makeover

Why is it so difficult for a three-year-old to stand still? Where do they get this unending supply of energy from? I feel like I need to be eating more of what I feed them 🙂

After spending almost an hour trying to make her smile for the camera- not grin, not big open wide mouth and not twirl- I finally gave up and called these photos good to go.

I really loved the idea of reverse applique and tried them on these T-shirts for the girls. I used an alphabet monogram, and the alphabet I chose N has easy straight lines. I tried this with S too, and it is super easy to sew around.

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 Reverse Applique Tutorial

Find below the step by step tutorial for a reverse applique technique

Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

  1. Print or draw your monogram initial onto some regular paper. Cut Strips of your chosen fabric using the 60mm Rotary Cutter and an acrylic ruler. Sew these strips together to make a swatch of fabric larger than the printed monogram.

  2. Cut out the reverse applique monogram carefully using a pair of Micro Tip Scissors. Next, iron some batting to the back of the swatch block. Trim the edge using a pair of Soft grip Pinking Shears

  3. Place your paper monogram onto your T-shirt. Place the fabric swatch beneath, making sure to leave a good inch of seam allowance all around. Pin all three layers together. Using some embroidery floss, stitch around the monogram completely.

  4. Once completely stitched, using a pair of Easy Action Rag Quilt Snip Scissors, carefully cut out the T-shirt material that lies inside of the monogram outline. Pull and lift the T-shirt material slightly while cutting making sure not to cut the quilted fabric beneath. This is the most satisfying step of reverse appliqueing

  5. Embellish with some buttons and bows.reverse-applique-t-shirt-makeover

I mean someday the girls will get to wear these Reverse Applique T-shirts right? Winter has got to end and hopefully, by June, we will have T-shirt weather. Right? I hope you enjoyed this Ruffled Applique tutorial and leave a comment below to let me know what you think!

Read my original post of this tutorial on the Fiskars blog here.

Affiliate links have been used. You can read my full disclosure here. 

Smitha Katti creativespace e1577349763159

Hi I’m Smitha! I live in Minnesota with my husband and two daughters. You’ll always find me painting florals in my sketchbook. And I love the sheer joy of making something with just my hands! But my bigger love is capturing it all on camera Read more.

Thanks for stopping by today! If you learnt something from this tutorial, do share this post with a friend or on social media! Tag me @smithakatti #smithakatti I’d love to see what you create!


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  1. Great idea! Love it. The buttons the perfect embellishment. Your model also is perfection! (perfect behavior mom!)

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