To Simba Leigh - Big/Lil Shirts

*Well hello there! I wanted to comment back to you or email you but you have no blog and a no-reply email address so this was the only way to get a hold of ya!*

Simba Leigh left me a comment when my big/lil shirts back in the good ol' sorority days came up in her google search when she was looking for ideas, asking how I did it. I will share with you all, it's simple really. I used to be really into crafting, and now with my recent addiction to Pinterest, will probably (hopefully) get back into the crafting habit.

Anyway, after rooting through really old facebook pictures, here are the shirts in question
Shirts I made for my first little Theresa, from the back

Theresa and I, from the front

The shirts I made for my second little, Katy. Couldn't find a pic of the back.

So, I used the same basic idea for both, with little tweaks to make them each different. I learned the way to do it from my own big, who made ours yellow using the same kind of idea. Couldn't find pics of that either.

It's really simple. Your materials include:
  • A cotton t-shirt
  • Fabric of your choosing (can be any number of different patters, I stayed with 2 different patters with colors that went well together)
  • Puffy paint
  • Heat-n-bond iron-on fabric adhesive (here it is on Overstock, so you know what it looks like, I got mine at either JoAnne Fabrics or Michael's back in the day)
  • Stencils if you want your letters to be really neat
  • Pencil
  • Iron/ironing board or iron-safe surface

I wish I had photos to show the process but I guess I never took any, so I'll describe as best as I can.

First, you're going to want to attach your adhesive to your fabric, so you can cut out all your letters/shapes as one instead of cutting and then adding adhesive and cutting again. Follow the directions with the adhesive, it's really easy to use. You just iron on one side onto the "wrong" side of the fabric. Leave the peel part on, that's how you're going to attach it to your shirt.

Next, you're going to draw out your letters - all of them, sorority letters, names, dates, whatever you want on the shirt. (As sorority girls know, you're not supposed to wear double-stitch letters until you've been initiated which is kind of the purpose of these shirts, so your littles can have "letters" but not LETTERS, ya know? At least, that's why I liked them.)

Use your stencils, or your free hand, to write your letters on the paper of the adhesive. On the shirts from Theresa, you can tell on the back that I wrote "Lil Sis/Big Sis" and "Fall 2006" in my own not-as-neat-as-a-stencil handwriting, however for Katy's shirt, I used a stencil, which you can tell by the "Lil Sis/Big Sis" on the front which made it much neater - learn by doing - it was much neater and easier with the stencils. Since you're writing on the backside, remember which direction it's going to have to go... backwards to transfer onto the shirt correctly. You can write forward on the fabric if you must, but you'll have to be really careful to not mess up when cutting and use something that you can see the writing on the fabric. Another reason I prefer the stencils, then you can just use pencil and do it backwards - easy peasy.

Once you've got your adhesive attached and your letters drawn, cut them out!

Lay your shirt out and line up your letters/shapes where you want them to go. Then peel off the backing, place down the letter or shape, and iron it onto the shirt. Remember to lay everything out ONE side at a time (work with the front or back at a time - don't try to rush!) because if you iron with something on the other side it could get stuck in a place you don't want it/ruin the adhesive.

Once everything is ironed on and pretty, it's time to make it a little more long-lasting. Iron-on adhesive isn't known for lasting through any wear and tear, so what we did was outline our letters in puffy paint. This added some reinforcement, sealing the fabric onto the shirt, as well as giving the letters a little more pop.

With my first big/lil shirts, I used just stick-on letters for the stuff on the front, as well as a stick-on fabric lion, I learned later that doing each letter by hand instead of buying the premade stick-ons, although tedious, looked better, and lasted longer (my little's lion fell off about a week after having it and I think mine lasted maybe two. I think some letters fell off mine, too) so the hand made fabric with the iron-on adhesive letters are much better than the store bought. I don't think I ever even puffy-paint outlined the front of the hand made letters on the shirts with Katy, just the big ones on the back.

So, that's my little tutorial. Of course, this doesn't have to be just for big/lil shirts, you can use this for any kind of shirt and make any design - maybe even good for homecoming shirts for my milspouses or walk/run shirts/remembrance shirts for my widstas (and other 5k-ers) out there!


  1. Somehow the only picture I have of ours is just the front! And I'd take a pic of the actual shirt and send it to you buuuuuut it's currently being sewn into my Phi Mu blanket!! Sorry Little...

  2. Cute shirts! I remember the long night of making things for my littles - lots of work! Go Chi O!


  3. My sister-in-law is in Phi Mu! Shes a junior at Salsbury in Maryland :)

  4. Cute shirts! I am a Phi Mu from the Delta Nu chapter up at Michigan State University :)


Please feel free to leave a thought with me!


Copyright © 2014 | Designed by: Broken Road Creative