DIY, Outfits and Style

DIY: Embroidered Motif T-Shirt

For the first DIY post of the year I’m sharing how I gave a plain old grey t-shirt some new life with an embroidered motif.

I was inspired by this Double Trouble tee I saw when doing Christmas shopping last year:

I have to admit, I was highly tempted to buy this for myself. It was such a simple detail to an otherwise basic plain t-shirt. But at $89.95 I couldn’t justify the price for what is in essence a white t-shirt. So I thought, hey, couldn’t I do this myself?

The guinea pig for this project? This grey Sportsgirl tee I’ve had in my wardrobe for years.

I was pumped to get started with this project, when it dawned on me – I have never done embroidery before. Sure as a kid I’d tried a bit of cross-stitch, but never embroidery. A few YouTube videos later, and I had some ideas on how I’d do my embroidery. If you’re a novice to embroidery like me, I’ve linked some videos below to the stitches I used in my project.

How to do backstitch
How to do split stitch
How to do stem stitch
How to do satin stitch

Materials I used:

  • Tailor’s chalk/air erasable pen/normal pen
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery thread in pink, dark green, light green
  • Embroidery or tapestry needle
  • Scissors

How I did it:

1. First I marked where I wanted the motif to be on my shirt by wearing it and then marking the spot and size of the motif with tailor’s chalk.

2. I put an embroidery hoop around the marks, making sure it was more or less in the centre of my hoop.

3. I knew I wanted a rose motif like the Double Trouble shirt, so I looked up some black and white rose outlines on Google Images and tried to trace it onto a piece of paper. This would be my practice for when I drew the rose freehand onto the shirt. I tried using my air erasable pen but the jersey of the shirt wasn’t very kind to the pen so I ended up using a normal ball point pen – I figured it would be covered up with the embroidery anyway.

4. Onto the embroidery. Using pink embroidery thread, I started with the petals of the rose, using the split stitch to outline the petals.

5. I then went over the split stitch with a satin stitch to cover all of the petals. In doing this double stitch technique, it gave the petals a bit more body and texture. I didn’t mind the uneveness of the stitching as in real life, petals don’t have smooth edges right?

6.  With the dark green embroidery thread, I used the split stitch to do the stem, thorns, and outline of the leaves. I could have also covered the stem part with satin stitch but I quite liked the braid effect of the spit stitch and the texture it gave the stem.

7. Using light green thread I filled in the leaves using satin stitch (sorry, forgot to take a photo of this step).

After ironing out the marks the embroidery hoop left in the shirt, here’s the finished motif! I’m wearing Blank NYC Denim skinny classique jeans and Sportsgirl lace up shoes (similar).

It was such a fun project to do! I even decided to embroider a watermelon on my daughter’s striped dress, mainly using the stem stitch for the bulk of the watermelon and the backstitch to outline it. The seeds were done with satin stitch.

Being a novice embroiderer (is that even a word?) the motifs look a little rough and you can see how the watermelon ended up looking a little funny on the red part, but I kind of like it – it gives the motif a little story and personalisation.

Of course, baby boy also had to be in the photos.

Ah, #mumlife. You don’t see these kind of photos in professional bloggers’ portfolios.

This was a great project to do and it took maybe 3-4 hours overall to do both my t-shirt and my daughter’s dress.

“It’s too sunny Mum!”

Of course, you could always buy the pre-made embroidered patches from a haberdashery and simply sew these onto the shirt (or even iron them on!).

If DIY isn’t your thing, below are some shoppable options.

Let me know what you think of this project! If you do decide to do this too, let me know in the comments below or on Instagram by tagging me (!

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Photos by Instagram Husband/Daddy

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4 thoughts on “DIY: Embroidered Motif T-Shirt

  1. Hi,
    Lovely work but I have a question, usually when you embroider on knits using a frame the stitches stretch and the design pucker after taking off the hoop. You did not use a stabilizer?

    1. Hi, I would definitely recommend using a stabiliser for stretchy knits, I just didn’t have one at the time I did the project, and the fabric actually held up pretty well. However, I just finished an embroidery project with a stretchy knit that was more delicate than the one in this blog post and wished I had used a stabiliser for it as it puckered and ended up with some holes which I had to cover up.

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