DIY Appliqued Dream BIG Tee

Wednesday, April 25, 2012
I wanted to make an updated version of my original dream BIG tee for the boys (this is a great design for girls too). The previous font I used was when I was on a big circus kick. This time around, I wanted to update the font to something a little more modern and clean. I love how it turned out and apparently, Oliver does too.

The technique for this is very similar to my appliqued love tutorial - just a bit more involved and time consuming since there are more letters.  

What you'll need:
Blank t-shirt, one piece, or tank (pre-washed)
Felt or fabric piece for the applique (I prefer to use eco-fi felt by Kunin - it holds up great in the wash)
  Embroidery floss and needle
Scissors (small scissors with a pointy tip work best)
Fusible webbing
  Template for the applique (download here). Adjust the size of your template as needed. If you're intimidated with the detailed lettering, blow it up a bit - that will make it easier.

Since I use Heat n Bond, my instructions will follow Heat n Bond's instructions. If you are using a different fusible web, simply change out my instructions with the instructions on the package. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me and I can help you. 

Getting Started:

The first thing you'll want to do is take the template and place it under a sheet of your fusible webbing. Take your pencil and trace "dream big" on to the webbing. With the "dream," I made the lines connecting the letters together slightly bigger when I traced so it would be easier for stitching. Any time you applique letters or numbers, you'll want to trace them in the reverse since you will flip them when you adhere them to your garment.

Next you'll want to iron your webbing onto your felt or fabric. For Heat n Bond, set it on the "wool" setting (NO STEAM). Iron the design onto the felt or fabric for about 3 or so seconds so it looks like this:

Carefully cut the appliques out. This applique is a bit detailed so having small, pointy tip scissors will come in handy here.  I use the micro-tip scissors from Fiskars and they work great.

Place the appliques exactly where you want them on the t-shirt with the glossy/fusible webbing side face down. Iron the applique on to the t-shirt pressing for about 10 seconds. I ironed "dream" first and then BIG second. Again be sure to use the wool setting with no steam. Check to be sure that the appliques are firmly adhered to the shirt.

Now that your appliques are attached to the t-shirt, you're ready to start the applique process. To stitch by hand, cut about 3-4 feet of your embroidery thread. Your skein of thread will have six strands. Separate two of the strands from the piece you've cut and thread them through your needle.
For this t-shirt, I use a straight stitch. It's a basic stitch and great for a beginner. You basically bring the needle up through the t-shirt and back down making straight little stitches about a 2 cm in from the edge of your applique.

A great video tutorial for the straight stitch is available here. The nice thing about sewing coordinating thread (floss) on felt or fabric is that it's hard to see so it's very forgiving if you're a beginning stitcher. If you're an experienced hand stitcher, it is fun to experiment with contrasting threads and different stitches.

Once you have finished stitching all of the appliques, you are finished. You could play around with different colors or even create your own design using different fonts.

If you get stuck or have any questions, please let me know.


Jenni said...

Oh hooray, another shirt I cannot wait to make for the girls. I am so thrilled you are posting these on your blog!

PS - LOVE Oliver in these pictures. He always makes me smile.

Grace said...

Well thanks, Jenni! Oliver is usually stuck being the model since Fin is in school every day. Can't wait to see how your tees turns out! xo

Harps and Ollie's Mom said...

I love this... Can't wait to try it!

Emily S. said...

Now this I will definitely be doing. ASAP. :) Love it, and thanks for the template!

Katie Lewis said...

Oooh, love this.

Grace said...

Thanks, friends!! Would love to see how they turn out. Let me know if you get stuck. Cheers!

nikinikinine said...

super ridiculously cute! I want to modify this for shirts to make for my twins. We're doing a gender reveal party in May for their new sister or brother and I'd love to make them shirts that say BIG sister and BIG brother. Would you mind sharing your fonts that you used to mock this up? The script font has a nice ligatures :) thanks. (

Grace said...

@nikinikinine, love that idea!! I just sent you an email. :)

DNghiem said...

Love the fonts used! Can you let me know the fonts used as well? Thanks.

Laura said...

LOVE this!! The orange is awesome, too!!! :)

Veronica said...

This shirt is fabulous, so adorable. And the font is perfect. I have to try this.

Grace said...

Thanks, Veronica! Let me know if you have any questions. :)

Matthias Gomio said...

Cool Shirt and great pictures - this is high quality design!!
Those shirts are awesome on little kids. Once I saw a three year old kid at the Aiport who was wearing a shirt with "I know HTML!"...also pretty awesome!

I found this post via a pin (

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