Hello and Zip-a-dee-doo-da! I’m currently in Disney World vacationing my little heart out! We’re with my in-laws to celebrate our 2-year wedding anniversary (Oct. 12th), DD’s mom’s birthday (Oct. 11th), and just being able to get away from work. Hallelujah!
When I go to theme parks, I like to get in the spirit of things and create something that will stand out. I enjoyed making 5-year-old girls jealous when I wore my Little Mermaid Dress to both Disney Land (2012) and Disney World (2013). I also enjoyed the attention in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (2013) when I wore my hand-made Harry Potter Dress, which scored me a wand-choosing at Ollivander’s!
DD’s mom wanted to get in on the action this year, so my mind started racing with what to do. The only Disney fabrics available come in either quilting cotton, fleece, or a cheapo satin-type fabric (not to mention EVERYTHING is Frozen-themed now – ugh). I didn’t want her to be too uncomfortable, plus it’s really hard getting the correct fit in a woven fabric on a person who lives 1,400 miles away with a different body type. A T-shirt seemed to be the way to go – something simple, yet comfortable for those long days at the parks.
I brainstormed what to do… I’ve done applique before, but what about the stretch of the jersey of the T-shirt fabric? Would it look all wonky? I was talking to a coworker who started learning hand-embroidery. Hmmm… getting closer… I could possibly hand-embroider Disney characters onto jersey… but that’s a LOT of time and I might get the tension wrong, resulting in a wonky T-shirt. Then, as if it was a sign from God, Elizabeth of “Elizabeth Made This” posted a tutorial on how to sewing machine-embroider your child’s artwork onto a T-shirt for them.
OH MY GOD, THANK YOU ELIZABETH, YOU GENIUS!!
It was settled. I would “draw” our favorite Disney characters onto T-shirts with my sewing machine! After some research, it looked like I needed to buy a new machine foot… a free-motion quilting foot. It was a bit pricey, but I have gotten a lot of use out of it already (stay tuned for more projects next week!) and I know I will “draw” on more projects in the future. It’s a great way to merge my two art-loves: drawing and sewing. A match made in heaven!
Elizabeth has a great tutorial in the link above, so go there if you want to see the whole process. I’ll just post some work-in-progress shots:
I have to admit that I cheated and just traced an image of The Little Mermaid from my computer screen onto tracing paper. I didn’t need this to take any longer than it needed to because I had to get these projects out in time for vacation! So after the image was traced, I went over it in Sharpie to make the lines stand out. I then flipped the image and traced it onto tear-away fusible stabilizer. The image is flipped on the stabilizer because you fuse it to the wrong side of the fabric, so the image will be reversed if you don’t reverse it to begin with – does that even make sense?! I liked the direction these images were facing, so I wanted to keep them that way for the T-shirts.
I sewed a line with the correct colored thread, using the traced lines on the stabilizer. Then I flipped the fabric over to the right side and “darkened” the lines by sewing over them multiple times. There are a lot of helpful tutorials online on how to use a free-motion quilting foot for freehand embroidery. You’ll want to change your thread tension and stitch length to “0” so things don’t get all crazy.
Here’s an in-progress shot where Ariel looks a little… weird without hair, lips and eyebrows:
I have a few T-shirt patterns, including Sewaholic’s Renfrew, Deer and Doe’s Plantain, and some other free ones I found online. I wanted a more relaxed fit because, let’s face it, we’re going during the Food and Wine Festival so you know we’ll need some room to grow in the mid-section. I thought the Plantain would be a good match. I tried out a different size by making this shirt as a test, so I’m starting to build my army of Plantains!
Here’s my finished shirt:
Nobody will have this shirt in DW! Bwahahahaha! The fabric came from our local SAS Fabrics and was stupidly cheap, so I bought like 5 yards of it. It’s a nice light-to-mid-weight jersey with a good bit of stretch to keep things comfortable.
Of course I had to accessorize with some TLM swag – starfish and all! It’s insane how much TLM stuff I have now, mostly thanks to my lovely bridesmaids from my TLM-themed bridal shower and bachelorette party. Thanks for feeding the obsession, ladies!
I cut a size 40 at the top and graded to a 42 from the waist down. The pattern calls for a 5/8″ seam, but I wanted it to be a little roomier, so I just serged my seams at 3/8″. It’s great because it won’t stick to me in case Orlando decides to have another record-breaking heatwave while we’re there. (93 degrees in October is just WRONG, people!)
I also added 2 inches to the length so there won’t be any indecency when I bend over. I’m kind of tall (almost 5′ 8″) so I usually need to lengthen shirts.
Wearing all of this mermaid awesomeness made me want to be one, so here’s my attempt at “swimming” in the desert:
So here’s some up-close and personal shots of the stitching in case you’re curious:
Before I started on these T-shirts, I made a “rough draft” and used the lighter colored turquoise for all of her fin. It barely showed up on the shirt and looked weird, so I had to go for a darker color. I do like how it came out with the lighter turquoise for the lines in her fins, though.
And here’s the final version of DD’s mom’s Minnie Mouse shirt!
I do wish her shoes were more visible, but I didn’t have any other color yellow in my stash that would have worked. I sewed the size 40-42 on this but serged 5/8″ seams and didn’t mess with the original length since DD’s mom is petite. I wanted it to be comfortable enough for her, so it shouldn’t be a skin-tight fit. Here’s hoping it works out!
By the way, I had to replicate Minnie’s pose…
And now for the close-ups:
I’m loving how these came out. I have a bajillion more ideas on things I want to “draw,” including some of my favorite anime characters. The possibilities are endless!
I’ll be back later with updated pictures from my somewhat me-made vacation. In the meantime, tell me if you’ve done anything like this before or something similar. I’m curious!