Thursday, 4 June 2009


A jolly roger for you

I recently made some skull and crossbone tees for a customer and thought I'd share my graphic and techniques with you.
  • Here is the graphic for the outline, open it with Photoshop (or similar) and scale it so that it fits your project. Cut around the outside lines and inside the eye, nose and mouth holes.
  • Cut a piece of double sided fusible web (I use Heat n' Bond Lite) that is big enough to accommodate your entire applique. Iron it on to the wrong side of the fabric you've choosen for your applique. With a pencil, trace the skull and crossbones design onto the peel-off backing. Cut out the design, taking care in the negative space of the eye, nose and mouth holes.
  • Peel off the backing paper and position on your t shirt (or whatever else you might be appliqueing on!) with the right side up. Heat fuse the applique to the shirt, avoiding the raw edges by using the point and the edge of your iron. This will fix it to the shirt enough to give it some stability and to make stitching easy without it shifting, but also allows the edges to be distressed rather than fused down. This is a very rough guide to what I mean, with the orange bits being the securely fused areas:
  • Stitch around the applique with a straight stitch (as per the red lines below), about 4mm from the edge. You shouldn't have to use a tearaway backing because it is not a zigzag stitch but I would recommend adjusting the height of the foot so it is not putting too much pressure on the fabric, and it makes turning curves and corners easier. I made this applique out of cotton jersey because I like the curled edge look. Woven also works well but the edges will fray, so you should stitch further in from the edges so that when it frays it doesn't pull completely away. Don't worry about making your stitching absolutely perfect and even because you want it to look distressed. It will end up looking like this:
  • Once you have completed all of the outlines, use your fingernail (or anything else poke-y) to lift and curl the edges up and give them a bit of a scuff. If you want, you can use the point of the iron against the curled edges to press it into it's distressed state.
  • Admire your handiwork.