Thanksgiving Turkey Tee Appliqué Tutorial

**REVISED AS OF 11/22/2016

Today, I have my first (of hopefully many) tutorial for y’all! Custom clothing has pretty much been the “in” thing for many years now, even back to when I had my firstborn in 2009. I’m not 100% into it, but every now and again, I start itching to have something specific. This generally happens around birthdays and holidays. I looked on Pinterest and Etsy for ideas for Thanksgiving shirts for my littles and seemed to see the same designs over and over again. I wanted something a little different, but also didn’t want to pay the hefty price that comes along with customization (make that, times two). Since I can sew a decent stitch and also own a Cricut and a decent stash of heat transfer vinyl, I decided to tackle them myself. As a bonus, since I didn’t find this on Pinterest, I decided I’d write it up and share my process with everyone! Some of the steps I will be doing, simply because I have the equipment, but most of it can be done without sewing or using heat transfer vinyl, especially if you are opting not to include a name or “baby’s first thanksgiving!” Here you have my “Thanksgiving Turkey Tee Appliqué Tutorial."

So, this is what you need to get started:

  • My free pattern (it is drafted for size 7/8 girls when printed on 8 1/2 x 11 paper, but I also easily scaled it down to fit a 9 month onesie)
  • T-shirt or onesie (I'm upcyling an old plain black tee for this project)
  • ¼ yard of 3 different coordinated fabrics for the feathers
  • ¼ yard of fabric for the body (solid or print, your choice)

(Side note: You can get by with much less fabric than ¼ yard, but I find that when purchasing fabric, I never buy less than that of each print. I like to account for error or in the event I wish to make another. Look at the pattern pieces and go from there if you’re using from your fabric stash at home.)

  • Tiny scraps of yellow, red, black, and white fabric for the turkey’s nose, wattle, and eyes
  • Double sided fusible web, such as Pellon EZ- Steam II, WonderUnder, or Steam-A-Seam 2
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Press cloth or old t-shirt
  • Spray bottle of water
  • Tweezers (for the small pieces)


  • Sewing machine
  • Cricut or other electronic cutting machine
  • Heat transfer vinyl in color(s) of choice

Now that you’ve gathered up all your supplies, it’s time to get started! Go ahead and preheat that iron on a cotton setting unless you don’t mind waiting on it later.

First, print and cut out the feathers and body pieces of the turkey from the pattern. Trace them onto the back, gridded side of your fusible web.

FullSizeRender (I wrote the size on the back of the pieces because I made two.)

Do a rough cut of your pattern from the fusible web. FullSizeRender%20%281%29

Using your traced pattern as a guide to how much fabric you'll need, cut pieces of fabric. FullSizeRender%20%282%29

Remove the backing (not the side you traced on) and stick your fabric on the wrong side of your fabric. Since your iron is already hot, go ahead and head over to it. Grab your DRY press cloth and make sure your iron has NO STEAM for the time being. Cover with press cloth and iron your fabric to adhere it to the web. Hold no longer than 5-8 seconds at a time. Make sure all pieces are adhered. FullSizeRender%20%283%29

Cut your fabric pieces out. They are attached to the adhesive web now. FullSizeRender%20%284%29 FullSizeRender%20%285%29

Now that you have fused and cut all of your pieces, it's time to get ready to adhere them to your shirt/onesie. Start with the largest feather and work your way inward, last, adding the facial features (these aren't pictured here). Until you have ironed them on, you are free to reposition the pieces. Make sure they are where you want them. IMG 1934

This time you will iron WITH STEAM. Spray your press cloth with water to get it a little damp. Cover the shirt with the cloth and press down firmly for 10-15 seconds at a time, being sure to pass over the entire design to make sure it all adheres. After you're sure everything has adhered properly go ahead and flip it over and repeat the pressing on the other side. Extra assurance and whatnot.

Add the eyes, nose, and wattle. I realized while cutting the tiny pieces from fabric and web is a little finicky. Feel free to improvise. I just fused the fabric scraps to the web, drew my own eyes, nose, and wattle on the back, then cut it out and attached to the shirt.

Facescraps (Here's my random process of creating the face.)

If you are opting for the no-sew version of this appliqué, you’re finished!

FullSizeRender%20%286%29 (I forgot to take a pic before I added vinyl. This is one of my optional steps.)

If you’re wanting to do a little more, go ahead and move on over to your sewing machine. Here, we will just finish the edges. You can opt for a straight stitch or zigzag. Again…the choice is yours! I went with a straight stitch and outlined the design as a whole and then went back and stitched across the individual feathers. Sewing1

When I was done sewing (only on part of the black tee shirt was sewn), I just used my Cricut to cut “Happy Thanksgiving” with some glittery gold heat transfer vinyl on the shirt and "my first Thanksgiving" with some gold foil on the onesie and pressed it on. You could also machine embroider it, or even a name, if you have that capability.


And that’s all folks!

I hope that my very first tutorial was pretty easy to follow and that y’all like it! If you would like to see more of these in the future, please comment below and let me know (perhaps even a particular project idea)! Any issues, questions, or comments, feel free to email me, as well!

*Note: The linked pattern and this tutorial are subject to revision if any errors are noted or if I find easier methods.

Sincerely, Shantelle
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