Monday, January 5, 2015

Shredded Heart T-shirt -- Sewing Tutorial

I know Valentine's Day is still a month away, but I couldn't resist making Charlotte (my six-year-old) a new shredded heart t-shirt to replace the one she has just about worn to death over the past two years.  My brother-in-law once asked Charlotte if she had been attacked by a vampire what she was wearing it, but she just giggled and ran away.  Let's hope no one else mistakes little Charlotte as a vampire's victim when she wears this new shirt.

The tutorial for this is so simple that I could probably just post a series of photos without text, but I have a few tips along the way that I learned after making a couple of these.  This is kind of a form of reverse appliqué, I suppose, but don't quote me on that.

Shredded Heart T-shirt -- Sewing Tutorial

Materials Needed:

Store-bought t-shirt, pre-washed
Shiny fabric (a light- to medium-weight scrap as big as the chest area of the shirt is plenty)
Thread to match the t-shirt (although a contrasting color might look cute too)
Ball point or stretch needle
Small, sharp scissors
Pinking shears (optional)

STEP ONE: Making the pattern and marking the stitch lines

Grab a standard-sized sheet of paper and fold it in half with the shorter sides meeting.  Dig deep into the skills you honed in elementary school and draw half of a heart (against the fold, of course) that is a little less than half the width of the chest of the t-shirt, and just about the height of the paper.  Cut it out, open it up, and check to make sure it will fit the front of the shirt.  Make sure there are a couple of inches on each side to account for the shirt curving around the sides of the torso.

Take a pencil (or one of those fancy disappearing fabric pens) and trace around the heart.

Use a ruler to draw parallel diagonal lines across the heart.  I made mine an inch apart, but I might make them a bit closer next time I make another shirt.  Come to think of it, this would make a good present for each of the birthday parties Charlotte is invited to over next couple of weekends . . .

STEP TWO: Pinning and stitching the shiny fabric to the t-shirt

Cut a scrap of your shiny fabric that is a few inches larger than your paper heart on all sides.

With the RIGHT side of the shiny fabric facing the wrong side of the front of the shirt (inside the chest), pin the fabric carefully around the heart and in between each of the diagonal stitching lines.  Yeah, it looks like a pin cushion exploded onto the t-shirt, but trust me -- the knit fabric of the t-shirt and the shiny fabric on the inside will want to shift around a lot.  Pin them into submission.  Don't let that fabric boss you around.

For this next part, I actually used my new walking foot just to try it out.  You totally don't need a walking foot though.  The first shirt I made for Charlotte a couple of years ago was sewn without a walking foot, and it turned out great.  Just make sure you are using a ball point or stretch needle, and that you make any necessary adjustments to your settings on your machine (if you have them).  Practice with a scrap of t-shirt fabric with some of the shiny fabric underneath and make sure you have it figured out before you start tearing up the shirt with the wrong settings!

First, stitch all the way around the heart.  Then stitch down all of the diagonal lines, one by one.  Make sure to do a lock stitch at the beginning and end of each diagonal.  Start each diagonal from the same end -- it doesn't matter whether you always start at the top or always start at the bottom if you make sure to be consistent.  It doesn't have to be perfect without any ripples, but try your best to stitch neatly.

STEP THREE: Shredding the heart

Okay, so maybe we're not so much "shredding" the heart as we are taking small, sharp scissors and caaaaaaaarefully snipping between each stitch line.  You're just cutting the t-shirt though -- don't cut the shiny fabric underneath and definitely don't cut all the way through back of the t-shirt.  Let's keep it civilized here.

Make a teeny snip in the t-shirt layer ONLY, just inside the heart-shaped stitch line between the diagonal stitch lines.  Then, staying roughly in the middle, snip all the way to just inside the other side of the heart-shaped stitch line.  Go slowly and don't get too excited.  You don't want to snag the shiny fabric.

See the shiny side of your fabric peeking through?

Repeat between all of the diagonals, until it looks like this:

STEP FOUR:  Finishing up

Flip the shirt inside out.  Grab some pinking shears (or your regular scissors) and cut off the excess shiny fabric to about 1/2"-3/4" outside the heart-shaped stitching line.  It's going to look all rough and nasty inside, but no one will ever see this part and it has never irritated my daughter's skin.

Wash the shirt again to get rid of all of the teeny threads that will work their way off of the pinked edges of the shiny fabric.  This will also make the cut edges of the t-shirt knit to roughen up and get wavier.

And there you have it!  Your child can look like she was attacked by a vampire too.  Ahem.

Uh oh -- I actually found the photo I had posted on the blog a couple of years ago when I made Charlotte's first shredded heart t-shirt.  The gray shirt with the red shiny fabric underneath looked really cool.  I do not, however, have any idea why my children were hanging around with what appear to be pairs of Charlotte's underpants on their heads (not to mention Peter's shirt being inside out and backward).  My kids are so strange.



  1. The shirt you made is so cute. I love it! Thanks for the tutorial. Pinning.

  2. so super cute I love this for valentines day would be so cute
    come see me at

  3. What a cute idea and fun to do with other shapes too. Pinning & featuring this next week. Thanks for linking this to the Craftastic Monday party at Sew Can Do!

    1. Thank you so much, Charyl! What a compliment!!

  4. That is awesomely cute! My 5 year old daughter will love it! I'll have to make it as well! Thanks for sharing it!--Shannon with KISMIF link party.

    1. Thanks! Send me a pic if you do make one!!

  5. This is so cute! I'd totally wear it myself, too:)

  6. This is a great idea, thanks for the tutorial.

  7. Cute idea! Thanks for the tutorial- Happy New Year :)

  8. The children are precious! And the shirt is adorable too.

  9. Greatidea; thanks for the tutorial. I'm not sure what my 9 year-old granddaughter would think about the vampire look, but I love it!

  10. Such a great project and your directions are so clear! Thanks so much for linking up to Awesome Life Friday - I hope you'll come back again this week! - we'll be featuring your Shredded Heart T-Shirt Tutorial this week.

  11. Love this idea, and your directions are very detailed. I wonder if you could do this with a sweatshirt??

  12. That would TOALLY work! I would love to try that. Great idea!

  13. Awwww that is so super cute!! I want one for myself. Thanks for linking up to Snickerdoodle Sunday.

  14. Thank you for sharing your cute t-shirt project on my blog's link party KISMIF. I chose to feature your project this upcoming Monday and would like to send you a free quilt pattern from my blog. Visit my blog's pattern site on Craftsy, Etsy or Connecting Threads to view options, then reply to this comment and I will e-mail it to you. Thanks for visiting!--Shannon

  15. Thank you for sharing this lovely post with us at Wake Up Wednesday Linky Party. We have featured you this week. Feel free to grab and flaunt the 'Featured' button. Cheers!!

    Link to post:


  16. A great idea for Valentines Day. I especially like the grey with the red peeking out.