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How-Tuesday: Raw-Edged Appliqué

Mar 29, 2011

by Julie Schneider handmade and vintage goods

The arrival of spring provides a much needed breath of fresh air, as well as sunny bike rides, crocuses showing their colorful faces, a lighter wardrobe, and a cleaner closest (well, maybe). Kick off your spring cleaning by clearing out your stash of fabric scraps. Refashion an old garment into a perpetual work-in-progress with this week’s How-Tuesday project, shared with us by Jennifer Cooke of Raeburn Ink and Design Your Own Tees.

Score your own copy of Design Your Own Tees right here on Etsy!

Appliqué is a lovely technique for embellishment; usually you finish the edges of your stitched-on designs to keep them neat and protected from damage during washing and wearing. For this project, however, leave the edges raw and create a stylish T-shirt dress that is defined enough to wear out on the town.

This is a great project for leftover scraps that are too small to use for anything else. Fabrics will fray at different rates, and some might eventually disappear in the wash, leaving the stitching exposed. Embrace the unpredictable results of this project, and you will have a truly one-of-a-kind tee.

Supplies you’ll need:

  • A T-shirt dress (or other garment)
  • Scraps of fabric in a variety of colors
  • Contrasting thread
  • Scissors or a rotary cutter + cutting mat
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Washing machine
  • Hexagon template



1. Make a pattern piece out of the hexagon template (download here), or create your own pattern piece in the shape of your choice using paper or lightweight cardboard. Adjust the scale of the hexagon template, if you’d like.

2. Cut out lots of hexagons from the fabric scraps. You can use scissos or a rotary cutter and a cutting mat. Note: Remember to always roll the rotary cutter away from yourself — it is very sharp and can give you a nasty cut. (I’m speaking from personal experience here!)

3. Arrange the hexagons on your T-shirt in a pattern that pleases you.

4. Pin them in place.

5. Stitch around the edges of the hexagons with a straight stitch. (I chose to stitch my whole project in one contrasting thread color to add some punch.) Remember to leave enough fabric around the edges to allow for some nice fraying.

6. Backstitch to secure each piece.

7. Now it’s all up to chance. Wear your tee and delight in how much it changes each time you wash it.

Thank you to Jennifer Cooke and the good folks at St. Martin’s Press for sharing this project. For more ways to revamp your wardrobe, check out Design Your Own Tees.

Clothing How-To’s | More How-Tuesday Posts | Shirts on Etsy


  • lilworkerb

    lilworkerb said 6 years ago

    Ooo! Lovely! I can't wait to try this myself, thank you for sharing! :)

  • lilworkerb

    lilworkerb said 6 years ago

    Ooo! Lovely! I can't wait to try this myself, thank you for sharing! :)

  • Littlezozo

    Littlezozo said 6 years ago

    great stuff ilove the blue dress shirt really cute :)

  • JasmineLund

    JasmineLund said 6 years ago

    Clever and cute!

  • PolClary

    PolClary said 6 years ago

    Very nice. It looks addicting, though. ;) All those pretty hexagons...

  • TubeHeaven

    TubeHeaven said 6 years ago

    very fun and adorable! thanks for an easy tute! i like the contrasting thread!

  • HoldTheWire

    HoldTheWire said 6 years ago

    Very cute! My daughter and I will be inheriting my mom's old sewing machine soon and I know she'd love to do something like this!

  • VintageEyeFashion

    VintageEyeFashion said 6 years ago

    Unique, creative & beautiful!

  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    TwinkleStarCrafts said 6 years ago

    Great idea!

  • thelittlemarket

    thelittlemarket said 6 years ago

    Looks like a great spring project!!

  • sadiesez

    sadiesez said 6 years ago

    I'm gonna try this for sure! Lots of scraps just waiting for a home :)

  • iWALLS

    iWALLS said 6 years ago

    Thanks for the wonderful tutorial! I will have to show this to my girls!

  • SparklePaw

    SparklePaw said 6 years ago

    LOVE this! The honeycomb shapes are super cute and modern!

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts said 6 years ago

    Good ideas!

  • DanaCastle

    DanaCastle said 6 years ago

    This is so awesome! I literally just bought this book from Borders 2 days ago! :) There are some really cute shirt ideas in there, but this one was actually the one that made me buy the book.

  • shannondzikas

    shannondzikas said 6 years ago

    I'm crafty but sewing straight lines scares the pants off me! I can manage this though without the usual terror associated with plugging in my sewing machine. Thanks!

  • Sofiesticate

    Sofiesticate said 6 years ago

    Love it! you just opened a big window of ideas in my brain :D, thanks!

  • ThePolkadotMagpie

    ThePolkadotMagpie said 6 years ago

    Love this!

  • auntjanecan

    auntjanecan said 6 years ago

    Hey, this is great!!!

  • xxxRedStitcHxxx

    xxxRedStitcHxxx said 6 years ago

    CLEVER idea! thanks for sharing!

  • xxxRedStitcHxxx

    xxxRedStitcHxxx said 6 years ago

    CLEVER idea! thanks for sharing!

  • collectiblesatoz

    collectiblesatoz said 6 years ago

    Thanks for sharing. A project that I must try.

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 6 years ago

    So clever! Thanks for the article!

  • NaturalGlam

    NaturalGlam said 6 years ago

    Cool project....

  • SeaGlassJournal

    SeaGlassJournal said 6 years ago

    That's just fantastic! Just "hearted" the book and might buy. Just don't know how to sew worth a stitch. I would like to create my own custom T's to wear at the festivals I attend. Gary

  • BanglewoodSupplies

    BanglewoodSupplies said 6 years ago

    I will have to try it! Thanks!

  • JanMadeIt

    JanMadeIt said 6 years ago

    cuuuuute! Can't wait to try it! I have some practically new t-shirts with tiny holes in various places where Domino (my cat) has clenched her toes while riding on my shoulder. This might be the perfect way to cover the damage and get a whole new life out of something that was headed to the rag bin.

  • OsoVictoria

    OsoVictoria said 6 years ago

    Awesome project, think of doing a few springtime t-shirts.

  • frommylifetoyours

    frommylifetoyours said 6 years ago

    Very cool . I love this kind of stuff . Thanks for showing us how to do it.

  • Toriapasquinucci

    Toriapasquinucci said 6 years ago

    LOvE the sharing people who make art the magic it is ;) Thank you!!!

  • TheBloomingThread

    TheBloomingThread said 6 years ago

    love new projects! thanks for more great ideas!

  • bhangtiez

    bhangtiez said 6 years ago

    really cool.......thank u 4 sharing!!

  • LittleBirdWallArt

    LittleBirdWallArt said 6 years ago

    Very cute idea!

  • paperraincoat

    paperraincoat said 6 years ago

    Love it! Will definitely do something like this!

  • theroyal

    theroyal said 6 years ago

    i love how tuesday and i love appliques, so thanks for blowing my mind

  • SarasDaisyLove

    SarasDaisyLove said 6 years ago

    Cute idea! Love it!

  • SkateBetty

    SkateBetty said 6 years ago

    This stuff is awesome. That pillow ring is the best thing ever.

  • SacredSymbolStudios

    SacredSymbolStudios said 6 years ago

    Neat! Thanks for the info & ideas.

  • RosellaResin

    RosellaResin said 6 years ago

    Great How-Tuesday... gonna do this to jazz up some of my old t-shirts for spring!

  • WoolnFelt

    WoolnFelt said 6 years ago

    Im all over this!!

  • ChrissiesRibbons

    ChrissiesRibbons said 6 years ago

    Wow- love this!!

  • trendlightly

    trendlightly said 6 years ago

    Great idea!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    Neat project love the geometric feeling to it!

  • ClassicObsessive

    ClassicObsessive said 6 years ago

    Very nice! I've become something of an applique nerd lately- I buy lots of thrift store clothes and spruce them up with fabric scraps laying around. I've never done any geometric shapes- I like the look a lot though! May be trying this project out next time around. Thanks! :)

  • ShoponSherman

    ShoponSherman said 6 years ago

    Im a big tshirt fan and anything to add some "life" to a T gets a thumbs UP from me!

  • 5gardenias

    5gardenias said 6 years ago

    great quick way to revive some dull duds-- thanks for the super ideas!

  • believeinURdream

    believeinURdream said 6 years ago

    I love the colorful shapes and the way that the fraying will give character to the item! Great post. Thanks for sharing!

  • gardenmis

    gardenmis said 6 years ago

    So fabulous to see some beautiful raw edge applique beauties being featured :)

  • FourHarpDesigns

    FourHarpDesigns said 6 years ago

    Great idea! Thank you!

  • BonTons

    BonTons said 6 years ago

    Super cute

  • OutTheBackDoor

    OutTheBackDoor said 6 years ago

    nice, Thanks!

  • jcwnorfolk

    jcwnorfolk said 6 years ago

    Brilliant and easy and quick and cool. Just had a great idea to match some of my daughter's t's with her new baby's outfits I am making from th scraps of cloth!! She is due in May so I have time to do both. Yay! Thanks a bunch!

  • NinthStreetNotions

    NinthStreetNotions said 6 years ago

    I am definitely going to be trying this for myself. I've done a little applique, and I thought it was fun. Here's a great way to not worry about the edges so much.

  • poorjimsvintage

    poorjimsvintage said 6 years ago

    how very inovative. so cool!

  • MadebyLinLin

    MadebyLinLin said 6 years ago

    very cool idea! i love appliques!

  • silverbombon

    silverbombon said 6 years ago

    Great detail!

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 6 years ago


  • redemptionart

    redemptionart said 6 years ago

    Very, very cool! Mahalo!

  • CarlasInspirations

    CarlasInspirations said 6 years ago

    I have a couple great stashes of little scraps to do this with. I can't wait to try it.

  • Numbers14

    Numbers14 said 6 years ago

    How well does the model wear that dress?! I'd never look like that in it!! :)

  • MyJunkyTrunk

    MyJunkyTrunk said 6 years ago

    Really great dress...I love it!

  • perebags

    perebags said 6 years ago

    Fun!! TY!!

  • KnitKnit

    KnitKnit said 6 years ago

    Ah! Great article! I have bags of scraps that I've been trying to get through - this project is perfect! Thanks so much for sharing :)

  • vintagemaison

    vintagemaison said 6 years ago

    Great article1 I have a quilt I first started in 1989 - it's unfinished still - but a bag full of hexagon pieces that I now know what to do with...thanks!

  • kapcha

    kapcha said 6 years ago

    This is awesome - I love it. Am halfway through a dressmaking/sewing course so totally inspired to give this a go. They don't sell t-shirt dresses in New Zealand though so does anyone have a pattern for one??? Or can I buy that blue one in the picture online somewhere?? What material is it too in case there is a pattern out there I can find. Thanks :)

  • DolineBlochDesigns

    DolineBlochDesigns said 6 years ago

    Love it!

  • ChangeUp

    ChangeUp said 6 years ago

    The look of raw edges gives a garment the casual, fun, easy going look....if that describes you, wear it! Your clothing is an expression of who you are.

  • MaryFosterCreative

    MaryFosterCreative said 6 years ago

    Looking forward to trying this to freshen up some old shirts. Thanks!

  • claudiascreation1

    claudiascreation1 said 6 years ago

    Love it! Just made a purse of scraps and a wine bag last week. This article has me motivated for more!

  • Morah

    Morah said 6 years ago

    Love this post! I, to, am a lover of recycled arts!

  • samsstuff

    samsstuff said 6 years ago

    Use pinking shears instead of regular scissors to help keep the edges from fraying too much & to add a different look to your appliques. I have done this with several items in my shop. It is a cute look :)

  • mslizz

    mslizz said 6 years ago

    wow i like this and want to try it ..

  • AThousandJoys

    AThousandJoys said 6 years ago

    I just bought a brand new sewing machine, and am excited to have some projects. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • faerieclare

    faerieclare said 6 years ago

    Fabby-la! My sewing projects always come out a little bit wonky. I'll defo try this you make it look so easy! Thanx x

  • ritzydesigns

    ritzydesigns said 6 years ago

    I love it!!! I can't wait to use my creativity to start a great new project. Thanks so much.

  • Chandeluse

    Chandeluse said 6 years ago

    I do it with French ribbons, and lace, so no fraying after the wash!

  • DreamReignDesigns

    DreamReignDesigns said 6 years ago

    great idea for those of us who dig hand-sewing, embroidery and saving beloved t-shirts that have aquired small holes or spots! and as others have mentioned above...fab doorway to specialized/tweaks on the theme!

  • rahs914

    rahs914 said 6 years ago

    That blue dress is lovely! Thanks for sharing this project tutorial julieincharge and raeburnink.

  • kapcha

    kapcha said 6 years ago

    I love the blue dress too and want to know where I can get my hands on one on the internet that would ship to New Zealand??

  • EstellineDesigns

    EstellineDesigns said 6 years ago

    Thanks for sharing. I like to make unusual things and I will make one for myself. The idea of leaving the edges raw is great.

  • girliepains

    girliepains said 6 years ago

    Gotta love that raw-edge!

  • jiang888

    jiang888 said 6 years ago

    Appliqué is a lovely technique for embellishment; usually you finish the edges of your stitched-on designs to keep them neat and protected from damage during washing and wearing. Microsoft Publisher 2010

  • ScrappyTudeStudios

    ScrappyTudeStudios said 6 years ago

    Cute and fun, and a great way to salvage a beloved t-shirt with a spot of red wine that simply won't come out!

  • RedbirdGreen

    RedbirdGreen said 6 years ago

    I have just the perfect tunic tees hiding in the bottom of my drawer for thisproject! Thank you for the inspiration!!

  • GiftCreation

    GiftCreation said 6 years ago

    So smart and easy!!!Thanks for sharing!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Murriepurrie

    Murriepurrie said 6 years ago

    This is cute. I think I will use this to bring life to my old shirts

  • prendasbyenid

    prendasbyenid said 6 years ago

    Great Project!!!

  • JujuTreasures

    JujuTreasures said 6 years ago

    Awesome, I would definitely try it:) Thanks for this great tutorial!

  • linziloop

    linziloop said 6 years ago

    I've got SO many offcuts of fabric I could totally put to use with this, woohoo! I'm going to try it on a plain skirt :D

  • topc

    topc said 6 years ago

    thanks for the tip. I'll use it on a shirt and a dress^^

  • MyNostalgicFeeling

    MyNostalgicFeeling said 6 years ago

    Beautiful! I wish you all the success - your work is unique and fab!

  • aggie12thman

    aggie12thman said 6 years ago

    I saw the cool style created for this dress, thought I would share something with everyone. As you know getting fabric is one of the most challenging tasks for appliques. Our company http// makes appliques out just a few styles of fabrics. Meaning, we print the designs to the fabric so you don’t have to look all over the place for different fabrics. We not only print the fabric patterns, but we can actually cut the logos ready for embroidery, so all you have to do is lay down the pre-cut appliques with whatever pattern you desire, then stitch. Talk about saving time and money....

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