Friday, February 24, 2012

TUTORIAL: Angry Birds T-shirt

Preparations are in full swing for this handsome little man's Angry Birds-themed birthday party.  I surprised him with this t-shirt to wear on the big day.  Here's the DIY tutorial.

  • Image of Angry Bird - see below to print your own
  • Red t-shirt
  • Small pieces of black, white, and yellow knit fabric
  • Paper-backed fusible web, such as Wonder Under or Heat 'n Bond Lite (I used Heat 'n Bond but either product will work.)
  • Optional: transfer paper (tracing paper) and stylus or pencil
  • sewing machine, thread, scissors
  • iron and ironing board
1. Print image of Angry Bird onto computer paper.
Right-click on the image above to save it.

Crop and size the face to fit your t-shirt.

Print your image.  I printed the face large enough to fill an entire 8.5 x 11 piece of computer paper.

2. Fuse fabric to Heat 'n Bond Lite.
Use your Angry Bird picture as a guide to know how large to cut each piece of fabric.  TIP: It's easiest to use one square of black large enough to cut everything black, one square of yellow large enough to cut everything yellow, and one square of white large enough to cut everything white rather than use a seperate piece of fabric for each piece of the applique.

Cut your Heat 'n Bond slightly smaller than your fabric.  This prevents the adhesive on the Heat 'n Bond from sticking to your ironing board.  Follow the directions that came with your Heat 'n Bond to fuse it to the wrong side of your fabric.

3. Trace and cut shapes for your Angry Bird applique.
If you have transfer paper (tracing paper), lay it face down on the right side of your black fabric.  TIP: If you're worried about the tracing paper leaving marks on the finished product, flip over the black fabric and trace the image on the wrong side (onto the paper part of the Heat 'n Bond).  Your image will be reversed, but you're guaranteed to not see any marks from the tracing paper.

Use a stylus or the plastic tip of a mechanical pencil to trace the outline of the black face background.  Press hard enough for the transfer paper to leave an image on the black fabric.

NOTE: If you do NOT have transfer paper, simply cut the image with scissors and trace around eaach piece.  Cut around the black backround first, then trace.  Then cut out each piece of the face and trace each one individually.

Here's what the outline looks like.  Cut out the face, then use the rest of the black fabric to make the pupils for the eyes.

Repeat the process for each piece of the face.  You should have:
  • Black background
  • Two black pupils for the eyes
  • Two pieces of white fabric for the eyes
  • White fabric for the teeth/mouth
  • Two yellow pieces for the beak

4. Fuse each piece of the bird's face to your shirt.
Peel the paper backing off each piece of fabric.

Follow the directions that came with your Heat 'n Bond to fuse the face to your shirt.  Fuse the pieces IN THIS ORDER (you're working from the bottom up). 
  • Fuse the black background onto the t-shirt.
  • Fuse all the white and yellow pieces onto the black.  You can do all five pieces at the same time.
  • Fuse the black pupils onto the white eyes.
If you try to adhere all the pieces at once, the bottom pieces won't get hot enough to stick to the shirt unless you overheat the top pieces.  TIP: If you got eager and put everything on the t-shirt and started ironing, don't worry.  Check the edges of your applique to see how well everything adhered to your shirt.  If you have small patches of the bottom pieces that are loose, go ahead and sew down the applique (see below), then turn the shirt inside out and try setting the Heat 'n Bond from the inside of the shirt.

5. Sew around each piece of the applique.
Use a zig sag stitch to sew around the edges of each pieces of the applique.  I used thread that matched each piece - yellow thread on the beak, white on the eyes and mouth/teeth, and black for the pupils and background.

If my presser foot looks funny, it's because I used a clear applique foot so I could see my work more easily.  A regular foot will work just fine.

Here were my settings.  Stitch width = 2.7.  Sitch length = 2.0.  I used short, overlapping stitches to secure the ends.  TIP: It's important to use a zig zag stitch, not a straight stitch, since knits need to stretch.

Iron the shirt one last time to set the stitches.  Then voila! - you're done!

Please leave a comment if you make a shirt (or tote bag, or towel, or whatever else you want to applique) using this tutorial.  I'd love to see your good work!


  1. I've just started to applique things for my little girl (birds, flowers, butterflies), but felt my son (7 yrs old) was a bit left out. He asked for an Angry Birds top... so I came online to look for ideas and found this! So I guess this will be the next project added to the queue!

    I use Steam-A-Seam for the applique and also Vilene Stitch and Tear on the inside to stabilise the stitching. Did you use any kind of stabiliser inside? Any advice gratefully received!!

    Thanks for the tutorial.