How-To Applique a Onesie

I posted yesterday about making handmade gifts for my brother’s new baby, as well as about why I decided to do it.


Today, I want to share the how-to.  This tutorial can be used for t-shirts or anything else, but in this case it’s a onesie for a baby.

You will need:
- Fabric to cut out and applique.
- A shirt or onesie or backpack or whatever you want to applique on to.
- Thread and needle.
- Heat and bond which is found at most any fabric or craft store.
- Iron and ironing board.

1.  Find your fabric.  I used an old shirt that is the style that my dad would have worn since this gift was symbolic of my dad.  It was for my brother’s new baby that is named after my dad who passed away in 1998.  More info is here.  Iron the part you will be using.


2.  Find a design on the computer.   I found this Texas on a mapping site.   Enlarge it to the size you want and print it out on a regular piece of paper.


3.  Once it’s printed, trace it onto the Heat and Bond paper.  Then, cut a square around it.

Don’t make the mistake I did.   Be sure you trace it BACKWARDS.  Trust me.


The reason is because you will later lift the paper off the back and iron the paper side to the onesie.  That means the other side of the fabric will be what you see.

In order to get it backwards, I traced the printed shape with a sharpie.


Then, I flipped it over and you could see the sharpie outline showing through.


And, from here, put the heat and bond on top (smooth side up) and trace it on to the Heat and Bond paper.

4.  Heat your iron up on the Wool setting.  Lay your ironed fabric down with the right side facing down.  With the rough side of the Heat and Bond paper down, press with the iron for 2 seconds.  This will bond the heat and bond to the fabric.


5.  Cut the shape out.  Now that the Heat and Bond paper is stuck to the fabric, it’s time to cut it out.


I am the worst cutter ever and I managed to cut fairly smooth lines as the Heat and Bond paper makes it much easier.


6.  I did the same thing for the onesie with the “J” on it.  Here are the quick photos of that process since it’s the same.




And, you should have something that looks like this.

Applique-043 Applique-034

7.  It’s time to remove the paper backing.


8.  Iron it on the onesie.  This time sit the hot iron on it for 6 seconds. Do your best to make sure it’s centered.


9.   Now that the cut-out fabric is ironed on, it’s time to stitch around the edges.  It’s your choice, you can do it with the machine with your choice of stitch or hand stitch it.  I chose to hand stitch it for a more handmade feel.



10.  Next, I added the pearl button since it was a signature of my dad’s.  It marked Houston on the Texas shape as my dad lived in Houston.


And, I added something to the back of the Texas onesie.


That’s it!  You are done and you have a handmade gift!  Any shape you want.  Any fabric you want.

If you have tips or thoughts, I’d love to hear them.

Hope my brother and his wife like the gifts!



  1. Great tutorial! The hand stitching is perfect with that plaid :)

  2. Really cute Kristy. I’ve done a lot of applique over the years. I used to always make my children a special shirt for their birthday each year with the age on the front & their name on the back. I always used a machine satin stitch around the raw edges because little kids clothing takes such a beating & lots of washing. Now I love using a machine blanket stitch & have used that on some quilted wall-hangings. It gives an old-fashioned look. Anyway, congrats on the new nephew!

    • Thanks! I just learned how to do a machine satin stitch!! I was sort of afraid to try it on this in case I really messed it up. Do you think these simple stitches will hold since it’s also ironed on and it’s just a baby? Hope so! I also just learned the machine blanket stitch. Need to practice both. I have a sewing class later today!

  3. Looks great! I didn’t know the heat n bond came in large sheets. I have been making baby onesizes like this with the heat n bond that comes on a roll. Then it gets all stuck on my iron. You might want to remove the pearl, choking hazard!

    • Thanks for the warning. It’s on like a button would be. Would you avoid any buttons for newborns? Just wondering. I don’t have children, so I dunno!

      • you are too funny. yes, I would avoid all buttons etc. on infant clothing especially. once they reach toddler years and stop putting things in their mouth, you can get a little more adventurous with buttons :)

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