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Friday, 1 July 2011

Mini Boden inspired applique T-shirts

Looking for a reason to justify buying a sewing machine? Then read on...

Mini Boden inspired applique T-shirts using scraps. Cost of materials, around £1.50. 
Logo Play Set (Sail Blue/Elephant)
Mini Boden T-shirt and shorts set, currently in the sale at £14 (was £24)
The Mini Boden applique T-shirts are amongst my favourite things I come across when flicking through the catalogues - and I must admit, I've been using them as inspiration to customise plain T-shirts for my own children for a while now. As a mum to three little girls, I am the first to vouch for Boden when it comes to quality clothing that can be passed down and down the line.

But, if like me, you find it hard to justify spending £17 (or even £10 as currently on sale) on T-shirts that will no doubt end up with ketchup on them, here's how you can do it yourself...

You'll need:

pen, paper and scissors
plain T-shirt
Bondaweb (size depends on how big your design is)
scraps of fabric
thread (I used machine embroidery thread)
sewing machine or needle for handstitching

Sketch out your design, and cut it out. Choose your fabric, and cut a piece of Bondaweb big enough to cover your design. Stick the Bondaweb rough side down onto the wrong side of your fabric, by holding the iron in place for about ten seconds. 

Trace your design on the smooth side of the Bondaweb, and cut it out so you have a fabric shape.

If your design has two pieces of fabric - like the ears on this elephant - then repeat the same process to make the second shape.  Peel off the backing and iron the second shape in place onto the bigger shape, before you peel off the backing on the main shape and iron that onto your T-shirt. Then, either get your sewing machine out or needle and thread, and do a top stitch all round the edge of your design - either using matching or contrasting thread, whichever you prefer. Grab a button for an eye, et voila! - a gorgeous little top for a fraction of the price you'd pay at Boden.

My personal favourite - made from last remaining scraps of Tanya Whelan fabric from a dress I made for myself.

Amy Butler fabric scraps.

More Amy Butler scraps.

Scraps from fabric found at the local sewing shop in Bedford.

Okay, so I may have got carried away with the elephants -
but now I've got a great big stash of birthday presents ready to go.
Hip, hip, hooray!
There. Done. I am almost embarrassed to have written these instructions up, and the secret is now out, as to just how easy these little beauties are to make. And, if you fancy making matching shorts, like the Boden ones, Dana at MADE has some great easy to follow tutorials. Go on...!


  1. Lovely. Just what I was hoping to make. Thanks for sharing!

  2. What fabric is best to use for the applique design? Also, where do you buy your T-shirts. I'm thinking I want some stylish, good quality plain ones, but obviously not too expensive or it defeats the point! I was thinking Next? Thanks

  3. I sometimes buy plain T Shirts from Next - or, also, its worth having a look at the supermarkets in their school sections, or Primark, too. All depends on quality and price you are looking for! I use all sorts of fabrics for applique - more often than not scraps of cotton, but sometimes jersey, to. The Bondaweb definitely helps!