Sewing Project of the Month

Iron-On Appliqué Pillow

No sewing is required for this easy appliqué project when you use a strong iron-on adhesive—you simply iron it to create a lasting hold. The resulting pillow cover will be machine-washable, just be sure to use a cold cycle and tumble dry.

Materials and tools:

  • Plain store-bought pillow cover
  • Clip art or template
  • Scissors
  • Freezer paper
  • Iron-on adhesive like Heat’n Bond Ultra Hold Iron-On Adhesive
  • Fabric scissors
  • All-purpose scissors
  • Ruler
  • Rowenta Pro Master iron

1. Pre-wash fabric and pre-made pillow cover; iron both to remove wrinkles.

2. Draw or print out the silhouetted shape of your choice; our whale template is available here. Size image to fit on your pillow and cut out.

3. Heat iron to wool (medium heat setting) and turn off steam.

4. Place no-sew, iron-on adhesive, paper side up on the wrong side of the material you wish to make into an appliqué.

5. Hold the iron on the paper side of the iron-on adhesive for two seconds. Glide the iron to the next area, slightly overlapping with the previous area, and press again for two seconds. Continue gliding and pressing until the entire surface is adhered to the fabric.

6. Place your cutout shape onto the paper side of the bonded fabric and trace the design. Use fabric scissors to carefully cut out the motif.

7. Peel off the paper backing and place the cutout shape adhesive side down on the pillow cover. Temporarily secure the motif’s place with a few pieces of low-tack painter’s tape.

8. Place the pillowcase on your ironing board and begin to adhere the motif to the case. Press and hold the iron for 8 to 10 seconds on each section of the motif until it is fully secured to the pillow cover. Be sure to remove tape from each section before pressing!

Freezer Paper Stenciled Tea Towel

You can create custom stencils with a humble kitchen tool: Freezer paper. The plastic coated wrap becomes a non-slip stencil when you iron it to a fabric. We chose to decorate some plain tea towels, but you can use this technique on any smooth weave cotton fabric.

Materials and tools:

  • Plain tea towel or flat-woven dish towel
  • Clip art or template
  • Scissors
  • Freezer paper
  • X-acto knife and a cutting mat
  • Stencil brush
  • Fabric paint
  • Cardboard
  • Rowenta Pro Master iron

1. Pre-wash your tea towel. Heat your iron to moderate high heat and iron your tea towel so that it is wrinkle-free.

2. Select and image you wish to stencil onto your towel or download, re-size and print the teapot stencil here. Cut out template and trace the shape onto a piece of freezer paper.

3. Place the freezer paper on a cutting mat and use an X-acto knife to carefully cut out the outline of your shape. If there are any cutaways like the negative space in the teapot handle, save the piece you have cut.

4. Place the freezer paper stencil over the tea towel with the plastic side facing down. With the iron set to moderate-high heat and no steam press the freezer paper to the tea towel, carefully avoiding wrinkles in the paper. Let cool.

5. Place a small piece of cardboard beneath the area you are going to stencil to prevent the paint from bleeding through the fabric.

6. Pour a small amount of fabric paint into a shallow dish and prepare a folded square of paper towel to blot your stencil brush. Dip the tip of the stencil brush into paint and dab it onto the paper towel to remove excess paint. Use a gentle up and down tamping motion to stencil the shape.

7. Once you have filled in the paint, let dry and then add a second layer of paint, if needed. Let the paint dry overnight.

8. Peel off the freezer paper.

9. If your paint requires heat setting (which most do), use your iron to set the paint according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Knotted Recycled T-Shirt Necklace

Turn an old t-shirt into a hip accessory with nothing more than a few knots. You can follow our directions to recreate the necklace shown here or get creative and try braiding or knotting the t-shirt fabric in your own way.

Materials and tools:

1. Pre-wash and iron your t-shirt. (Ironing will help you cut straighter lines.)

2. Lay your t-shirt on a table and smooth it so that the front and back sides lie perfectly flat. Using a ruler as a guide cut your t-shirt into 1-inch strips (for our design, you will need 13 strips).

3. Stretch each ring out with your hands until the fabric naturally forms a tube shape.

4. Cut each ring to create a long strip (if your t-shirt has seams at the sides, snip the tee at the seam and cut off the seamed section).

5. Take three of the t-shirt fabric strips and knot them together at random intervals to create a single knotted rope.

6. Repeat with three more bunches of three strips until you have four, knotted lengths of t-shirt material strips.

7. Lay the knotted lengths out in a line and then gather them upwards in a U-shape. Snip the last t-shirt strip in half (you will use these shorter pieces to bind the strips together).

8. Gather the four strands together and wrap them with the one of the short pieces, when you have wound up about 1-inch wrap back down towards your starting point and tie the two ends of the short piece together. Trim excess off the knotted area.

9. Repeat the wrapping on the opposite side of the necklace.

10. Next, you will tie the loose ends together to close the necklace. Start with the two shortest pieces and knot them together, then continue knotting the ends one to another until all the pieces have been tied to approximately the same size.

11. Pull each knot extra tight and then trim the ends off the knots for a finished look.