t-shirt time

A few weeks ago I found some super cheap t-shirts for the kids that I’ve had stacked in my office waiting for inspiration {and time} to embellish them.

baby close

Yesterday was the day and of course I had to show you how they turned out. I didn’t make tutorials, but hopefully I can get your creative wheels turning for decorating t-shirts of your own.

girly shirts

Three long-sleeves for the baby girl.


An off-center ruffle {thanks Lindsay for the idea!}.

I made a ruffle out of white jersey {it doesn’t fray, so no need to hem the edges} then sewed it down the side of the shirt. The ruffle is just like the ones I used on the ruffle pillow.


A bunting shirt {semi-reminiscent of a miss america sash, now that I look at it}

I cut rectangles out of assorted cottons, notched one end then stitched each one to the shirt. A skinny grosgrain ribbon stitched across finishes it off.


Linen whale shirt. Download the pattern below.

Did you read the Summer with Matthew Mead magazine? In it was this darling whale pillow by stitch/craft.

whale pillow

I think it is so cute and used it as the inspiration for Audrey’s new whale shirt. I think I may go back and add some details with embroidery thread. I just free handed my whale and then stitched it to the shirt.

And now for the boys :


I found the striped shirts at H & M for $5.99 each.


No. 1 isn’t so thrilled with the red stripes – his comment when I first showed him was that he would wear it for Dr. Seuss day. Smarty-pants. Hopefully he’ll wear it more than that, because I think it is cute, but maybe it is a little dorky for a 7 year old. I don’t know. If nothing else, it was fun to make.


No. 2 is all about his new dog shirt. We don’t have a dog and after writing this post and reading your responses, I have decided we are not, in fact, ready for one. But #2 likes them and I like them on t-shirts so it worked out well.


No. 3 L.O.V.E.S swords. He carries one with him at all times {even to bed} and if he isn’t holding a real one, he’ll turn whatever he can into one {starbucks drink stoppers are faves}. So a sword shirt seemed to fit him perfectly.

so big

Audrey likes her miss america sash shirt. Isn’t she getting so big? Love that baby girl.

The shirts were fun to make and are inexpensive gift ideas for the kids in your life.

For more ideas, see my other t-shirt tutorials:

applique t-shirt embellished

Here is that cutie whale pattern:



38 Responses to t-shirt time

  1. Jenny June 17, 2011 at 11:09 am #


  2. Lauren June 16, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    I love your shirts!! I was inspired from one of your previous posts to make some for a friend’s little girls…I just got my sewing machine for Chirstmas, and I was excited to try it out!

  3. lindsay June 16, 2011 at 8:50 am #

    {I meant “so” big} ;o)

    p.s. tell me about the flower in Audrey’s hair in the photo of you {and your gorgeous hair} with the twirl necklace!

  4. lindsay June 16, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    she IS getting to big!!! she’s beautiful. I love her style. I’m serious I would wear that t-shirt and that grey tutu today if I had them. love it.

  5. Brooke June 16, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    Maybe you’ve answered this question before but do you have any suggestions on a good starter sewing machine?

    • Serah June 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

      I’d love to know the answer to this question, too!

  6. Kate June 16, 2011 at 5:48 am #

    Oh I love these! I actually had a few shirts for my son so I grabbed some spare fabric and began cutting out different designs yesterday. =-) Thanks for the motivation! And we just found out we’re expecting a GIRL in October so I’m thrilled at looking at your little darling’s clothes…adorable!!

  7. Dennis June 16, 2011 at 1:45 am #

    What a little cutie! I love the whale shirt and pillow!

  8. Kim June 15, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    ‘Sew’ cute!! My kids are all too old, but maybe for nieces or nephews??

    By the way, tried a new flower of yours {the big one on pillows} – it was so easy and cute. I used red/white ticking and sewed it onto a burlap tote and free-handed a fun fancy ‘K’ with a sharpie. It looks like something right out of Ballard Designs!!! Thanks for the tutorial!!!

  9. Hannah June 15, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    soooo awesome, i love them all! thanks for sharing such great inspiration Q:

  10. Lindsay June 15, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

    These are so stinkin’ cute! I have the same question as Serah, did you hand-stitch or use a sewing machine? I thought about doing these one onesies, but how did you sew them without sewing through both the front and back of the shirt? Thanks for the adorable idea!

    • emily June 15, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

      I did use my machine. You just have to stretch and gather up the back of the shirt so that it stays out of the way of the needle. You could also handstitch, but a machine is just so quick!

  11. Katrina June 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    Such a great idea. Customizable for the little ones own personality. I love them and love your style!

  12. Michelle (Australia, GC) June 15, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    As always so talented and inspiring! :D

  13. Jennifer June 15, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    Thanks for the inspiration! I have newborn twin girls and it will be so fun to dress up their plain white onesies to match and coordinate. Love all the ideas!

  14. leah June 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    I was just looking back at the tutorials last night of the other shirts and thinking I wanted to do some this weekend! I’m so glad you posted this!

  15. Julie June 15, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    LOVE the shirt inspiration! I am always doctoring up shirts. I even have some stripe ones that have been staring at me for months, LOVE your ideas. My son would love a whale shirt, why did I not think of that sooner?! :) Now to find a few minutes to get those started. Thanks for sharing!!

  16. Serah June 15, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    This may be a silly question, but did you use a sewing machine or hand stitch? These are so cute, so mini-boden! And that adorable picture of Audrey makes me want to try for a girl (and my youngest is only 3 months old!). :)

  17. erin June 15, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    These are so fun, Emily! I have made some embellished onesies for Wynn in the past. Yours are darling-love the stripes for the boys!!

  18. Stacey June 15, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    These are fantastic! How creative! I’m going to have to try to make one for myself soon! Thanks!

  19. Michelle June 15, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    Love the t-shirts! Especially the whale. I was thinking of doing red, white and blue stars in the same way you did the bunting shirt for my girls on the 4th of July. Thanks for the inspiration!

  20. Melissa June 15, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    These are all so cute and very inspirtational!

  21. hillary June 15, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    audrey looks SO OLD! her hair looks like a big girls’ now. i think i should for sure have mom cut off hadley’s mullet.

  22. Meg June 15, 2011 at 8:24 am #


    Can you give us your favorite stuff to use for iron-on? Mine seem to come off so easily!

    • emily June 15, 2011 at 8:48 am #

      I didn’t actually use the iron-on fusible stuff this time because I didn’t have any. So I made sure to stitch around the designs so that they would stay on the shirts. The edges will fray, but hopefully the stitches will hold! You can see that I went around twice on the whale & dog shirts – not sure if that helps, but it looks cute.

  23. Hilary June 15, 2011 at 8:22 am #

    Cute!! Very Mini Boden, but better because they are custom! I need to try a yoda one for my Ryder :) Thx emily!!

  24. Aubri June 15, 2011 at 8:03 am #

    Goodness, she is the CUTEST thing! It’s been fun to watch her “grow-up” on your blog! She is very pretty and I know you must be so proud!

  25. Shelley June 15, 2011 at 7:15 am #

    My first tought was “she’s getting so big”! And, she’s absolutely gorgeous :D You are so stinking creative Emily! I think I’m going to have to go raid Target for some plain shirts so Izzy can get in on the ubber cute t-shirt lovliness!!!

  26. Amanda M. June 15, 2011 at 7:08 am #

    They look GREAT! Audrey is so pretty – she is getting gorgeous hair just like yours!!

  27. Joy June 15, 2011 at 6:48 am #

    Oh, I love them all! (I have to tell you, I got to visit with my dear Aunt Kathy for the first time in a while. We had fun swooning over your site!)

  28. cailan June 15, 2011 at 6:31 am #

    Audrey Is getting so big and so precious – love that skirt. And thanks to you I have a couple of these clearance shirts ready for my baby girl.

  29. Jessica June 15, 2011 at 6:13 am #

    I had to laugh. My kids as if they can get a sword the minute they see a Starbucks. :)
    The shirts are fabulous. Thanks for the inspiration!

  30. Meg June 15, 2011 at 6:04 am #

    I love how they turned out, especially the whale shirt, too cute.

  31. Lynda June 15, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    All so adorable!!! Your little girl is getting so big! Love the flag sash shirt and I am a huge fan of whales. Whale watching was one of my favorite things I have done. Have a great day!

  32. Chelsey June 15, 2011 at 5:24 am #

    Did you make Audrey’s ruffled skirt too? Everything is so cute! Thank you for inspiring me!

    • emily June 15, 2011 at 8:08 am #

      The ruffle skirt/pants combo is from baby Gap around Christmas time. I should have bought one in every color and every size because they are so cute. Oh well.

  33. Andrea June 15, 2011 at 5:11 am #

    Love them all. Please tell me you spent all day making those. My little one carries a sword everyone also . They are all so cute.

    • emily June 15, 2011 at 8:10 am #

      I did spend much of the day making them. My boys had their buddies over to play, so while they destroyed the playroom, I destroyed my office :)

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