It all started in Asheville back in August when I saw the cutest baby onesie that I thought I couldn’t live without, until I saw the price tag. Granted it was made with organic cotton and sewn right there in Asheville which probably justifies the $25 price tag but my jiminy cricket refused after getting 10 onesies for $10. It was screen printed with a simple outline of a lion head, a tiger head, and a bear head and then said OH MY! underneath. ADORABLE, I’m telling you.
Well I went home pouting to myself and decided, why not? I can do that. And so I started coming up with fun and cute onesie ideas, so here is the first in a series of DIY baby clothes: The Embroidered Onesie
Step One: Get yourself some Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy. This stuff is magic. You design your pattern (or find a picture of anything online) and then just print it out, cut it out, stick it on and start stitching. And then it dissolves in water. The only problem is that you have to come up with enough stuff to fill an 8.5 x 11 sheet to make it worth printing out, so there is planning involved.
I printed out my design for the lion, tiger and bear, then I picked a bike because I happen to know that there will be bicycles involved in baby’s quilt so I thought that would be cute and then I picked what I thought was a kind of urban hipster, easy little triangle design. I also printed out a couple more involved ones for wall hangings for the nursery which you’ll get to see if I ever get around to them.
So you just peel off the back, stick it on and go at it with a needle and thread. Don’t know how to get started? There are a TON of tutorials on You-Tube for some ideas on different stitches besides just the dashed line you’re familiar with. Then once you have a few ideas, you can make it up as you go for however you want it to look. The only downside to this Sulky stuff is that it gets your needle a little sticky, but a few quick jabs into the pepper side of a typical tomato pin cushion and you’re good to go. Turns out, I absolutely love embroidery. It is an exact art, you have to be precise where you put the needle, but there is still a ton of freedom and with all of the overly perfect machine embroidery on kids clothes I’ve seen, I really like the slightly imperfect and interesting element to the hand-embroidery, so just embrace it! Plus the threads are about 40 cents a piece and it is totally portable. I can grab this for car rides or in front of the TV or sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, so that’s pretty awesome too.
So then, I finished stitching all those little dots and tiny little lines and was feeling pretty good about it. But I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous because the onesie material is so stretchy and not as dense as the paper. I thought that might translate to some of the stitches coming out, or the whole thing stretching strangely and distorting the whole image. Turns out all my fears were mostly ungrounded. I did learn that you have to keep your stitches very tight because they’ll loosen up without the paper there, but they’ll keep their shape and even stretch along with the fabric.
And I thought getting rid of the paper would be a battle involving scrubbing, but it was literally the easiest thing you could do. You just dunk the piece into some water and swirl it around. The paper will start to gunk up and then it just dissolves away within seconds leaving your finished piece paper free and perfect!
I’m telling you, there is magic involved here. For two of them I air-dried, and then for the triangle design I threw it in the dryer to see what would happen and it did get a little funky with the stitches stretching out weird. So you might want to stick to hand washing these. Then again, at size 0-3 months (what was I thinking?) they’re pretty much one time use anyway.
But now you’re probably wondering, what about the inside? No baby is going to tolerate the rough stitches and knots left over on the inside rubbing up against a sensitive baby’s skin.
That’s where this Fusible Interfacing comes in. You just iron a piece of this on and it leaves a soft surface on baby’s side. It is also stiff and permanent so that the stitches can’t get stretched out by pulling them over baby’s head or by washing the onesie (or whatever material you decide to make this on. A tote bag anyone??).
It is another easy one to use. You just cut out a section roughly the same size and shape as your embroidery, just make sure it is big enough to overlap the stitches by at least a quarter to a half an inch on all sides.
Then, with the onesie turned inside-out, you lay the interfacing with the bumpy side down and the soft side up over all of your embroidery threads and stitches, essentially encasing the whole thing.
Next you lay a damp towel or cloth over the interfacing.
And apply heat and pressure. The instructions say to put the iron on the lowest setting and apply for 15 seconds or so. I found that was not nearly enough so I turned the iron up to medium-high and left it on for about 20 seconds. Then just lift up the towel and check that the interfacing is firmly adhered to the onesie. If it isn’t, just lay the towel back down and reapply pressure with the hot iron.
And there you have it! A soft and smooth onesie once again, just with a happy and adorable design.
So here are the ones that I came up with! Next time I might go with a larger size so she can wear them a little longer but they’re still pretty adorable.
Lions and Tigers and Bears, OH MY! This design was based loosely off the one in Asheville just with a lot more detail. I got the shapes and patterns for the design from pictures of actual animals. Click the image or HERE for a PDF of the design in case you want to make one yourself!
The bicycle design, again is inspired by the baby quilt my amazing mama has cooking (anyone guess where I got the innate urge to embroider a onesie?) and the actual design is from a gap outfit that I liked but again was screen printed with polka dots all over. Want to try this one? The dots are actually a lot of fun to make, they’re french knots and easy peasy. Click the image or HERE for the pattern I used.
The last one I attempted was the triangle design and I thought it would be a breeze compared to the other two. I just stitched straight down stitches that start out tiny on one side and then get bigger and then smaller again to form each triangle. This was actually the hardest one because the onesie fabric is so stretchy and weird, I found it almost impossible to get that top side of the triangle to form a straight line and ended up ripping out half of what I did, two steps forward, one step back style. And even with all that ripping out, they are definitely all wavy triangles, but that’s okay. Just a little character thrown in, right? The other thing is that this is the one I dried and the weirdest thing happened. The onesie shrunk considerably, but the stitches seemed to space themselves out instead of getting tighter together. Again, click the image or HERE for a pattern!
Well even if you aren’t about to have a baby, I would seriously recommend taking up embroidery, it is a pretty fun and an inexpensive little hobby. When I was researching, it seems like most people are still doing very traditional hand embroidery, but I think a modern twist is what this hobby needs to get it to take off as the next knitting craze! No need to stick to perfect little lilacs and leaves, get creative! My next project is this awesome pigeon, he’s pretty funny looking so I think you’ll like him.