Saturday, June 20, 2015

DIY: Cheeky Tees with Iron-On Letters.

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Lately, I've been on a T-Shirt kick; I've seen some really cute ones with cheeky phrases on them. I love comfy, loose tees; I'm not one to wear a crop-top or junior fit.



I spotted this one on Kohl's Instagram Feed but it's a crop top so it's a no-go for me. But, the phrase fits me to a 'T' (Hey, pun intended). Then, Grav3yardGirl showed us this one:


A photo posted by grav3yardgirl (@grav3yardgirl) on

When I went to check it out it was almost $50 with shipping so I didn't buy it. Again, the phrase is one that fits me quite well. My husband confirmed that.

I like crafts. But, they are very labor intensive and I don't have a lot of patience for meticulous and involved processes. However, I thought I could re-create these Tees. I also thought I could do it on the cheap but it turns out Iron-Ons are not all that cheap. It could have been cheaper but I happened to fall in love with phrases that required me to buy multiple iron-on sheets. Things don't come easy for me. In all I spent under $50 to make both of the tees. It's a bit high; I can admit that. In retrospect I probably didn't need these that bad. But my experience lead to some learning and I'm gonna share that with you. This way you know what to expect if you want to attempt a similar project.


I found 2 tees I liked at Target. These are Mossimo brand and they were 2 for $16.00. They are lightweight, slub tees that have a larger neck but fitted arms. I size up for a loose fit. I went with heather grey and neon pink. Two black tees would be way too hot in the summer and I plan on wearing these this summer. I washed both my tees before starting my project; the iron-on directions recommend not using using fabric softener which I didn't realize until after the fact but I did not have any issues.

It took me quite some time to find the style of iron-ons I wanted. I am very surprised to see there are not more styles and sizes available. I found 2" White Flocked Block Letters on eBay; in retrospect I wish I had gone larger, like 3", even though I held 2" letters up to my tee & I liked the ratio. So keep that in mind. These are for my 'coffee' tee. I also quickly realized that punctuation marks are hard to find so I bought a blank sheet of iron-on material to create my comma. For my 'sleep now' tee I found some whimsical 1.5" Black Flocked Letters.

Once you have purchased all your supplies you will need an Iron and an Ironing Board. I know some people create a make-shift ironing board so google it if you don't have one. My iron is corded so I set up my ironing board near an outlet. If you had your ironing board/iron put away for some time get a rag and wipe them down; you don't want to iron dirt onto your shirt. Make sure they are nice and clean.

Let's get started; I'm doing my 'coffee' tee first with the 2" white block letters.



Now comes the tricky parts; getting everything lined up nicely so your letters are straight and centered. I really wish there was an easier way to do this. I like to use guides; I initially thought of using a chalk line but then I was concerned it would stain the shirt when I ironed the letters on. So, I turned to my trusty computer and set about creating a template. It wasn't as precise as I had hoped but it did work well enough that I don't think the slight variances are really noticeable. I found a font and size very similar to my iron-on letters. I also used this template to create a stencil to make my comma out of the blank sheet of iron-on material.



With these block letters I had to cut them out in squares; they didn't peel off of the backing until after I finished ironing them on. This is a downfall because it's harder to see if you have the right spacing and alignment. To help with this I tried to cut them all very close to the edges where they would line up with each other along the side and the bottom (I used the bottom as a base guide to line them up). I used a straight edge trimmer for this. This was the most tedious part; having to carefully cut all these little squares as accurately and closely as possible. It also frustrated me that the letters were actually a little crooked on the backing sheet. To be honest I would not recommend these letters for that purpose alone. Each pack was 4.99 and I had to buy 3 packs to get all the letters I needed. So $15 for letters that are difficult to line up is not a good deal. I actually found better ones over at the same site where I purchased the whimsical ones; these 3" Sport White ones are $1 more per pack and do not appear to be flocked but they probably would have been better.


You gotta eyeball your tee on the ironing board to get it as straight as possible; I used the seaming to help me get it centered. It also doesn't help that these days clothing seams arn't always straight either LOL. Once I had my shirt centered on the ironing board I used my computer-generated template to create a stencil. I cut out the areas where each word would be so I could make sure they were spaced out and centered. I then laid my iron-ons down (remember that your letters will go adhesive side down and that when you look at the letters they will be flipped; I almost goofed up on my 'E's) and removed the template. I ironed a word at a time; placing my iron directly down on top of the word, without moving the iron, and pressed with moderate pressure. Every package of iron-on's will tell you how long to leave the iron on the letters. Then my instructions had me flip over the garment and iron the back side as well. After letting it cool, I then peeled the backing off.




The results are acceptable; it is centered well on the front but there are a few letters that are a little crooked, however, it's not really noticeable when wearing it. My husband thought it looked great but he's not exactly one to pay close attention to detail. Cost breakdown: $8 for the shirt, $5 for the sheet to make the comma*, and $15 for the iron-on letters = $28.00



My second tee went much smoother; the whimsical Iron-On Letters were much easier because they peeled off the backing before ironing onto the shirt. This made it super easy to place and see the alignment of the letters.


I used a piece of paper to create a base line across the tee but I also wanted these letters to be a little more staggered so I had creative play and didn't have to be super precise in placing these letters. The only con I encountered: the letters easily tore when removed from the backing because this particular font had very thin lines. But it only happened once and you can't tell because I lined the torn piece right back up with the letter (the first 'E' in 'SLEEP') and ironed it into place. When they say carefully, they mean it.



I really like these iron-ons and I highly recommend them. Cost breakdown: $8 for the shirt, $10 for the iron-on letters* = $18.00 So this one ended up costing $10 less than my other tee and was easier to do.


*The iron-on items I purchased at SEI Crafts did have a $7.99 shipping charge (yes, that's pretty steep) but I also purchased some additional items (an 'I heart Zombies' Iron-on and Tie Dye Supplies) so I prorated the shipping cost per item in my calculations above. I also got a Free With Purchase Card Making Kit worth $15.

I am quite satisfied with my tees and while I think I spent too much money I am still happy to have them. Now, if they had been total fails I would be pretty crabby about it. Hey, I got crafty, I'm proud of myself for trying something new. In fact, I just bought 3 more of these tees in light colors to do some tie-dye tees next. Would you care to see a post on that as well? It's not your typical tie-dye; it's easier. It's called Tumble Dye and it's less messy than traditional tie-dye. They also have some untraditional colors which I thought was really neat.

What do you think of my cheeky tees? Would you be interested in trying to DIY your own tee?

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