Applique tips plus octopus and rocket patterns

***I’m trying this again, since the last post was wonky and slow. Sorry if you got both of them.***
Wonder Under vs. Heat N’Bond
I prefer Wonder Under. I find it to be much less stiff and easier to work with. It’s easier to get it to actually bond to the fabric. I’ve also had issues with Heat N’Bond gumming up my sewing machine needles. I’ve never had that problem with the Wonder Under.
Where to get patterns and ideas
I usually do a Google image search and use that for inspiration and to see what type of details I’ll want to be sure to include to make it look right. Then, I get a pencil and start drawing. The octopus was creepy my first attempt. The second attempt was WAY too big, so I copied it at 75% and it was perfectly sized. Also cuter, on accout of the weird parts being smaller.
I like to trace the pattern directly onto the Wonder Under before ironing it to my fabric because you can see through it and make sure to use (or avoid) certain fabric details. See how the green oval is centered like a window on the rocket? That was on purpose. Be sure to trace on the smooth paper side of the Wonder Under and make sure that any letters, numbers, etc are BACKWARDS. I also like to use pencil. That may be a personal issue from my time as a math major in college, though.
Be sure to place/fuse your parts in the right order. For example, you don’t want to iron down the body of the rocket until you’ve got the fins (totally a technical term) tucked underneath. You’d put the nose cone piece on last of all.
I’ve sewn most of my appliques by hand for a very long time, but have finally gotten the hang of doing them by machine. I prefer a straight stitch to a zig zag, so my tips will be about using a straight stitch. Possibly the most important thing is to shorten your stitch length. This keeps you from taking a giant stitch right off the edge of the fabric on accident. You don’t want it super small (in case you have to pick it all out)….just small enough to give you better control. I like mine set around 1.8 or 2. If your machine has a variable speed control, turn that down too…not the slowest you can possibly go, just somewhere in the middle.
When you get to teeny tiny turns (like the ends of the octopus tentacles), don’t be afraid to do one stitch at a time and then lift your presser foot to make adjustments after almost every stitch. It’s still faster than doing it by hand. My machine has a function where the needle always stops in the “down” position. Make sure your needle is down before you pivot your design.
Add details
How cute would that octopus be with eyeballs on a less busy fabric? Maybe even buttons sewn on if the shirt was for an older child? If my rocket fabric hadn’t had such a perfect oval for the window, I probably would have added one.
Good luck, and if you use my patterns…leave me a comment so I can see how they turn out!
Octopus template here.

Rocket template here.
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***Personal use only. Make ‘em, gift ‘em, please don’t sell ‘em!***
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  1. Small fry & Co. says:

    I guess I am going to have to switch to Wonder Under because my sewing machine needle always gets gummed up with heat n bond. My only question is when you just do a straight stitch around the pattern does it fray in the wash?

  2. Small fry & Co. says:

    I guess I am going to have to switch to Wonder Under because my sewing machine needle always gets gummed up with heat n bond. My only question is when you just do a straight stitch around the pattern does it fray in the wash?

  3. Beth- the mama bee says:

    thanks for the tips, I’ve just been doing simple shapes like ovals since I have been doing a zig zag with with very close spacing. I will have to try it this way.

  4. Thanks Char – that’s very helpful.

  5. sweetpea says:

    yay char, thank you for this! now I just need to get brave and try it!

  6. The Wonder Under prevents most of the fraying. Some of the edges get a little tiny bit fuzzy, but I have shirts that have been washed weekly for 6 months or so that are still wearable, for sure.

  7. mothernecessity says:

    i’ve found younger childrens coloring books to be great places for applique designs! they’re big, basic shapes and easy to copy and cut out the various pieces!

  8. Kathryn-nannygoat says:

    Great Tips! I’ve just started making these and I can’t tell you how much I’m loving it!

  9. I love these! Such cute fabric choices too!

  10. CheepCheepDates says:

    This is too cute! I have so many baby shirts with stains and this will fix them all!

  11. Thanks! I made 6 for a multi mom baby shower this weekend. For the TBD babies, I added a bow that can be clipped if baby is a boy :-)

    Q: Did you use a stabilizer on the back?

  12. Carin,

    What a great idea with the bows! LOL!

    I do not use stabilizer. In the olden days when I zig zagged around the edges, I did. It seemed like the onesie or tee or whatever was way more likely to stretch with the zig zagging. HTH!

  13. Having a boy in a month…these will be so perfect for his little body!

  14. Sisters Stuff says:

    Love these I am going to link back to you on our blog!

  15. I'm wondering if you need to wash the onesies before sewing the applique on? Or can you sew on it right from the store? Thanks for all of the tips!

  16. mothernecessity says:

    i've appliqued a lot of onesies, and while it is recommended that you prewash to remove the sizing agents, i don't. i use heat'n'bond and i stitch well around the edges.

  17. mothernecessity says:

    btw, you can get a pack of onesies at joann's fabrics with the 40% off coupon. so you get five onesies for six bucks. can't beat it.

  18. I do prewash my onesies, just because some brands tend to shrink a lot.

  19. Thanks so much for the tip about onesies at Joanns! I didn't know they had those there, and thank you also for the info about pre-washing onesies!

  20. Very cute designs. Do you apply any soft interfacing on the inside of the onesie (over the design/stitches) to prevent the stitches from irritating a baby's skin? If so, what kind?

  21. Great Idea!!! I love these. I made one today and I had a dickens of a time separating the paper backing on the wonder under from the fabric, once it was fused. I really ended up pulling the fabric to a fray. Any thoughts on how to make that easier??? Otherwise they were a cinch to whip up!

  22. Amanda, sometimes I have that problem and sometimes I don't. I think it's a combination of the fabric and if I've got the iron the right temperature and whether or not I use steam.

  23. I don't always sew the appliques on after ironing them on. I have had minimal if any fraying and use Wonder Under. The Wonder Under helps to keep it from fraying.

    When separating, I found that if you let it cool completely, it works a LOT better. And try to start in an area that isn't so small. (so at the head of the octopus or middle of the rocket). HTH!

  24. Instead of Wonder Under, I have tried using Steam-A-Seam2. It definitely didn't gum up my machine. It's really use to use. It seemed to stay pretty well and not fray, but only time will tell…These are so fun and addictive.

  25. Haley's Bowtique says:

    Oh this is just too cute!! I can't wait to make this!!!

  26. This site is wonderful. After I ironed down my design using the wonder under, the fabric started to fray some at the edges- any tips??

  27. Virginie says:

    Thanks for the tips ! I have been using these together with your skull and bones template to create a few T-shirts for my girls recently!
    I will be linking back to your blog from

  28. LeighAnn says:

    LOVE these!! These are going to get used over and over again!

  29. Thanks for the great templates! I'm always looking for little boy stuff for my nephew.

  30. OH MY i can't wait to try this!! :)

  31. I'm hosting a baby shower in a couple weeks and we're doing the fabric appliqué onsies – I'm looking for inspiration so the folks that aren't crafty can still have cute results! Your templates are JUST what I was looking for. You don't happen to have a robot or elephant template do you? I'll try to come back and post the link to photos in a couple weeks!

  32. Moon Mama says:

    How do you sew on stretch fabrics?

  33. Char @ Crap I've Made says:

    Provided you sew mostly on the applique, which is stabilized by the Wonder Under, it works just fine. Good luck!

  34. Kari Morin says:

    These are great. It’s harder to find things for boys than girls. I went to a baby shower for my niece and all the guests painted on a onesie for the new mom to be. There was some real wild pictures. Everyone had a great time and my niece loved it. I saw a pattern for a tie, make that little boy look sharp for the holidays.

  35. Stephanie says:

    Wow I love them and it is such an inspiration for my Christmas shirts. I’ve always bought Christmas outfits for pictures and well they never get worn more than once. So this year I want to make my own. I’m going to do Red and Green long sleeve shirts and applique ginger bread people on them. I’m hoping they turn out as well as your rockets and octopus did.

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  1. {1} says:

    [...] are clear, and the ideas are endless. If you're looking for applique tips and patterns, check out THIS post by Char, over at Crap I've Made. I used her "1" pattern for mine, and you can find it [...]

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