Appliqued baby clothes are very common, as well as a very straightforward way to embellish an outfit. But the reverse applique? Hmm… not nearly as common, but a great way to get personalized baby clothes! This idea came to me recently, after hearing someone mention Alabama Chanin, a hand-sewn couture clothing line whose owner, Natalie Chanin, I had the pleasure of meeting one time at an art festival. Since I live in Alabama, and Alabama Chanin’s clothing often features reverse applique, I felt this would be a more than appropriate technique to demonstrate today.
So what is reverse applique? As you can see from the pictures below, a reverse applique is when fabric is “applied” (in this case, handstitched) to the underside of the main garment’s fabric. The top fabric is cut so the applied fabric can be seen.
Alabama Chanin’s DIY Journal Cover. Note: they let the knotted ends show.
Alabama Chanin’s DIY Eagle Shirt
You will need:
- Prewashed Plain Onesie
- Coordinating fabric (preferably knit)
- scissors (little ones for cutting intricate designs are helpful)
- embroidery thread (the DMC kind works great) and embroidery needle
- fabric marker or similar fabric-marking tool
I started out by laying my paper on the onesie and drew my design on top of the paper. It gave me a sense for how big the design would be on the onesie. I recommend a fairly simple design, one that is forgiving if your cutting isn’t perfect.
Then I drew my design onto the onesie using the fabric marker. I honestly used my paper design as a guide and just free-handed it on the onesie. As you can see, my pattern was simple; you may need to be more precise when transferring the design to your onesie, depending on your level of intricacy.
I cut it out carefully using my scissors, cutting on the outside of my line.
(ooh, it’s starting to take shape!)
Then I took a scrap of knit fabric and pinned it behind the cutout design.
Using the embroidery thread and the embroidery needle, I took a workable length of thread and used 3 strands at a time to thread the needle. Go around the perimeter of each hole with the thread, using a basic running stitch. You can let the knotted end show from the front like the Alabama Chanin folks do, or you can have it hidden in the back – your choice. (The picture below is the inside of the onesie.)
The final step, not pictured, is to trim the excess fabric from the back (just so there’s no bunching).
You’ll have baby couture in no time!!
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