In this instructable I'm going to show you how to make a high quality T Shirt modification using a reverse applique process with an embroidery machine. I'll show you some basic embroidery digitizing steps, hooping, embroidery, cutting, and how to add bling using a hot iron and hot fix crystals.
On a side note you can also make these embroidered T Shirt Mods withOUT an embroidery machine, you can use a home sewing machine, or stitch them by hand and still use the techniques in this instructable to create a great shirt.
Step 1: Embroidery Digitizing
The first thing we will need is a program to run on the embroidery machine. (If you are making these on a home sewing machine or by hand, you will skip this step)
Open your embroidery digitizing software. I use Designer's Gallery Master Works 2, it's an older program but it gets the job done and didn't cost me a bajillion dollars. :) Not all embroidery digitizing software is the same obviously but most have similar functions and it should only be a minimal amount of effort to find the simple commands I'm about to show you.
1. Select the option to add TTF Artwork (which is just a fancy way of saying you are going to digitize letters from a True Type Font)
Then you will select which True Type Font you want to use.
2. Select a font that is fat and thick for this technique so that you will be able to cut fabric from the center in a later step. You can also choose a BOLD type to get the thickness of letter you need.
3. Type in the words that you want to embroider and select OK
4. Now you have somplified True Type Font artwork on your screen, at this point the art is JUST art that you can modifiy, stretch and make bigger.
5. Use your mouse to pull the corners of the artwork to make it the size you want it. Be sure to keep in mind the size of your embroidery hoop and do not go over those dimensions. (I made my example larger so you can see it.)
6. Now we will need to turn our artwork into stitches. Make sure your artwork is selected on the screen and find the running stitch command on your program. Click the Run button and that should turn your artwork into stitched lines. (Do not select the column or satin stitch options because that will fill in the entire letter with stitches and that isn't what you want)
7. Your artwork is now a single row of stitches! Yeah, but we're not done yet...
8. So your artwork is stitches now but you are not ready to sew yet. You COULD sew now but your stitch line would be hard to see as it is just a basic single line of stitching around each letter. You need to BEEF it up a little so we're going to change those "single run" stitches into "bean" stitches. "bean" stitching is two stitches sewn side by side to make a line of stitches more bold. So select your "bean" stitch option and "apply" to highlighted stitching on your screen.
9. You can now see your stitches on the screen if you zoom in.
On to the next step...
Step 2: Hooping Your Garment
You are going to need...
-some fabric or use another old tshirt for fabric
-cut away backing or stabilizer (the white stuff)
-some office clips
1. wrap a sheet of cut away stabilizer around the bottom inside portion of your hoop (the part that will be inside the garment when hooped) and use the office clips to hold it to the hoop. I do this so I can get everything into the tshirt without much aggravation from shifting, and because I don't happen to have a fancy hooper board that holds everything while you hoop.
2. Put the hoop with stabilizer inside the tshirt and get it in the general area you want it to sew and carefully lay your piece of fabric over the top. Pull the top of the tshirt back down and straighten wrinkles both in the tshirt and the fabric underneath.
3. After everything is in position, straight and aligned properly and free of wrinkles, carefully remove the office clips.
4. Push the top of the hoop inside the bottom portion of the hoop first.
5. Then with BOTH hands (one is pictured because I was taking the picture with the other) push down and forward on the bottom of the hoop to POP the two parts of the hoop together.
6. Your garment is now hooped and ready to be embroidered. This is a good time to double check that your hoop is straight, even on all sides and that your design will sew where you want it to. Is it too low? too high? too far to the right? If so unhoop, adjust and rehoop. If your hoop is crooked your design is going to be crooked. Simple as that. :)
Please continue on to the next step...
Step 3: Embroidery
1. Now we slide the hoop into the receptors on the embroidery machine.
2. Load the digitized design from the computer you made it on into the computer on the machine.
3. Choose our color of embroidery thread. (I like to make the stitching stand out so I use a contrasting color, usually a color found in the backing fabric that will show through the lettering.) In this case white.
4. Once your design and thread are loaded you are ready to sew your design.
Step 4: Trimming and Cutting
Now that your design is sewn you will remove your garment and hoop from the machine by sliding it out of the receptors.
Unhoop the garment by popping the two halves of your hoop apart.
Trim any excess threads, making sure you don't cut any stitches that could cause your design to unravel.
Cut the excess stabilizer and fabric away from the back of the shirt.
Use a tiny sharp pair of scissors to cut away the top layer of tshirt fabric from the inside of each letter. Please see the photos for detailed comments on how to do this.
Take extra care during cutting of the top tshirt material to ensure that you don't cut through the bottom layer of fabric.
Step 5: Embellishment
You've finished your digitizing, hooping, and stitching. Now you are ready to take this design to the next level.
You will need some hot fix crystals (which you can purchase at any craft store or online)
A hot fix crystal iron (or a regular home iron will work too)
and your shirt.
plug the iron in and let it get hot (do not touch it after it is hot because, well. IT"S HOT! and it will burn you! Take great care.)
***Also take care not to touch the crystals after you have ironed them as they do retain the heat of the iron and they can burn you too.**
Pick up a crystal with the iron by pressing the tip of the iron over the crystal as it sits on a flat, heat proof surface. The concave shape of the iron tip is the same shape of the crystal and they fit together nicely to help you pick up the crystal.
Let the crystal sit in the tip of the iron for a second so that the heat can melt the adhesive that is on the back of the hot fix crystal. You will know it is ready when the adhesive on the back becomes glossy and even or starts to "bubble up"
Now point that baby at the spot where you want the crystal to be in your design and touch the tip of the iron with the crystal to the shirt and pull up. The iron will come away leaving the crystal adhered to your design.
Yeah! Bling! Woo-Hoo! (Note: You can't see it very well in these photos but this shirt really sparkles!)
Now keep going till you have a magnificent amazing, completely "rich" looking tshirt design.
I hope you liked this instructable and get lots of awesome clothes out of it. :)