Adding Applique to a Knit Shirt {How to Jazz up Your Kid’s Wardrobe}

Hello! Welcome to part 1 of my {How to Jazz up Your Kid’s Wardrobe} series! I’ll be posting periodically this summer and sharing some fun ways I’ve found to add some excitement to my boys’ clothes. My boys love characters from Star Wars to Ninja Turtles to Paw Patrol, but as you may know, finding character knit is expensive! Frankly, it’s out of my budget. Character woven is much more affordable; however, instead of just using it to make shirts like the Classic Oxford from Peekaboo Pattern Shop, I needed to think of ways to add it to the knit shirts my boys love. I love sewing with the solid cotton/lycra knits from Peekaboo Pattern Shop, but my kids get tired of just plain solid shirts. I’ve had to get creative!

Today I’ll be showing you the steps I took to add some woven fabric to the front of my son’s Semper Sweater from Sofilantjes. This sweater was designed to made with all knit, but I found the side panels were a perfect place to add some woven fabric in.  My 5 year old picked out the woven Star Wars fabric I used on the sides of the shirt, but once I finished sewing it, he never wanted to wear it because the front was plain black. His grand idea was to put a diamond of the Star Wars fabric on the front to match the sides. I thought this was a great idea and immediately set to work!

Using character or licensed woven fabric can be a great way to incorporate your child’s favorite characters into their clothing at a less expensive price than knit! I found this Star Wars woven fabric at my local Joann Fabrics for about $7 a yard on sale. However I only needed 1/2 yard to use for the side and the applique. If you wait for a coupon, you can scoop them up at quite a savings!

Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty of how to applique on a knit shirt:

Materials you will need include: the shirt you will be applying the applique to, fabric for the applique, thread for topstitching, and Heat’n Bond. I used Heat’n Bond Lite which can be found on Amazon or at your local fabric store.

Here are the steps I followed:

-1- Lay your shirt flat and determine where you will be placing your applique. After measuring my shirt, I determined that I would be using a diamond that was about 5.25 inches tall and about 6.75 inches wide. I cut my shape out of green construction paper.

Applique 1
Measuring Diamond 1
Measuring Across 2

-2- Next, take your fabric you will be applying and lay it face down on your ironing board. Apply a section of Heat’n Bond to the back following the label instructions. Make sure the paper side is facing up. (I didn’t have sheets of Heat’n Bond so I used strips I had from a roll. It works the same.) After it is applied, trace your shape if you need to. Heat n Bond


-3- If you are using a character already printed on your fabric, you may wish to leave a 1/4″ border around the edge when you cut it out. If you are cutting out a shape, cut on the traced line. Make sure to cut neatly. Then peel the paper off the Heat’n Bond. 

Applique Cut Out


-4- Place your applique on your shirt and iron according to the instructions on the Heat’n Bond.

Applique Flat


-5- Stitch around your applique using either a short zig zag or a stretch stitch. I used the triple stretch stitch on my machine. Then you’re done!

Sewing Machine


Your woven fabric may fray a bit at the edge if you use a stretch stitch instead of a satin-stitch looking zig zag. I decided that I preferred the look of top stitching with the stretch stitch.


-6- Give your shirt to your child to wear and enjoy! My son is wearing his Star Wars shirt for May the Fourth today!

Semper Sweater

Thanks for letting me share my secret for how to add some fun character fabric to your basic knit shirts!

The SECRET to sewing with character fabrics on a budget!

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