Tuesday, February 8, 2011

custom letter shirt tutorial

I've been seeing these cute homemade baseball type t-shirts everywhere... the ones with your last name on the back made from felt letters.
I thought it would be fun to make one navy themed to support my husband.

This is my first tutorial so bare with me.

Here is your supplies needed:

 1. Any new (or old ) t-shirt.
2. Felt (color of your choice) for letters and any other decorations you'd like.
3. If your letters are going to have felt and fabric, you also need about a fat quarter or so of fabric.
4. Stencils (2 sizes) one for felt, and one for fabric to add dimension. I made my stencils which was a lot easier than buying them since I wouldn't have the right sizes I needed if I was to buy them
5. HeatNBond (can be found at your local craft store) make sure to get UltraHold so it will stick to your shirt good.
5. Scissors or rotary cutter. 
6. Embroidery thread to reinforce letters (and for decoration) once they are ironed on.
7. Straight pins (optional) to pin letters on

Start out by washing your shirt if it is new. The adhesive will adhere to the fabric better if it is washed.
 Next gather you stencils, felt, and fabric and start tracing around the letters and decorations with a Ball Point pen. The ink seems to flow best when working with felt.

 Trace onto felt (remember these letters are going to be a bit bigger. I think I used size 108pt for this one.)

 Trace onto fabric (I used 86 point on this one, but since I have it on zoom it's hard to tell.)

 For your decorations just choose whatever you'd like!!! 

After you have them traced onto everything begin cutting them out. (I did not have a picture of this since I had already begun making my shirt when I decided to make a tutorial)

Next you are going to lay out your cut letters and get them ready to put the HeatNBond on the back of each letter.
Lay each letter onto a place on the paper and trace around the letter. Cut a little bit around the letter (not much, but just enough to where you know the whole letter will get fully covered by adhesive.)

Now that you have all of the letters and their corresponding HeatNBond pieces, it is now time to bond them!
This is the tricky part because the fabric needs to be bonded to the felt first, then the felt to the shirt.
Refer to back of the HeatNBond packet to find out how to bond adhesive to each piece of material and felt. The directions are fairly easy. Make sure you have some sort of cardboard, or hard surface under you work space on your ironing board. 
Once all of the pieces are bonded, DO NOT take the paper backing of each piece just yet.

Now take one set of corresponding letters (material and felt) say you have maybe an S felt and an S fabric you are bonding together... get them ready. Peel the paper off of the S fabric and get ready to bond this to the felt. Refer back to package directions if you have forgotten how long you need to press it.
You have now completed a letter!

Here are what your letters should look like if everything is correct. Material should be slightly smaller and bonded to the felt. You can play around with how big you want the letters. I have seen bigger. Just kind of eyeball it. 
To bond the letters and decorations to the shirt lay your shirt on a flat surface and figure out where you would like to put the items by either pinning them into place until you iron them, or just going with it and guesstimating. (yes! that's a word!!!)
I used pins and tried my shirt on to see where everything was once it was in place, then when I was content with it, I began ironing.
Once you are satisfied with the placement of your letters and decorations, you can peel off the papers and iron them on as the directions say. Make sure to iron them nice and good so they don't fall off during washings! 
You now have a completed custom letter shirt if my directions are not too hard to follow!!! 
Completed front of the shirt! I still have yet to do my embroidery thread on each letter, but if you know how to do basic sewing, just do a little running stitch up through the back and down into the letter. Keep going until you are satisfied with how it looks.

Decoration on back of shirt. I would love to show you the top of the shirt with our last name, but for the safety of our family, I'm refraining from doing so.

Thank you for reading my tutorial. I hope it wasn't hard to follow. If you have any questions feel free to email me or comment. I know some pictures might have been needed, but I had already halfway finished my shirt before I decided to make my tute. Sorry for that! Hope you can get through it anyway! :(



  1. So cute, I don't know if I am crafty enough to try this though. I gave you a little shout out in my bloggy blog, hope you don't mind. :)

  2. Very cute!! What a great idea to support your husband and more feminine than many of the Navy wife shirts.

  3. Thank you!
    I am always wearing some sort of Navy apparel be it jewelry or sweatshirts/t-shirts! I also carry my Navy Wife purse wherever I go.

    Thanks Britt!!! I am trying to get more followers, so maybe that will help. :)

  4. awesome idea! We gotta get together sometime...I love crafts!!

  5. Delilah I've actually been wanting to get a little crafting group together. Sort of like a navy wife crafting group?
    I don't know, just an idea in my head. We'd meet on a certain day and do a project each week. :)