Spruce up a plain T-shirt with a scrappy, fusible butterfly appliqué. Mix and match appliqué colors and tees to make a design that suits your style.
Butterfly Applique T-Shirt
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Before You Start

Choose a fusible web: It's important to choose a good quality fusible web of the appropriate weight. You'll choose a weight of fusible web based on whether you're going to sew the appliqués on the shirts or not. If you don't wish to stitch over the edges, make sure you use a heavyweight fusible web that is permanent even without sewing. If you want to sew along the edges, use a lightweight version (some fusible webs are too stiff to sew through).

Use a stabilizer: When stitching appliqués to knit shirts, you'll need to back the appliqués with a suitable stabilizer. A stabilizer does just what its name implies: It stabilizes knit fabric so it won't stretch while you're sewing. Choose a tear-away stabilizer, a wash-away version, or a soft cut-away type.

Editor's Tip: Make sure to wash and dry your shirt before adding appliqués. You'll want the shrinkage to occur before you add your embellishments.


  • Green-and-turquoise print, lime green dot, light brown print, blue-green print, turquoise print, dark brown dot, and bright green print fabric scraps
  • Perle cotton: black
  • Lightweight or heavyweight fusible web
  • Fabric stabilizer
  • Machine-embroidery thread to match the appliqués
  • T-shirt

Prepare Appliqués

Click on "Download this Project" for patterns and Appliqué Placement Diagram. To use fusible web for appliqué, complete the following steps.

1. Lay fusible web, paper side up, over patterns. Use a pencil to trace each pattern the number of times indicated in specific shirt instructions, leaving at least 1/2" between tracings.

2. To prepare appliqués with regular edges, cut out each fusible-web shape roughly 1/4" outside traced lines. Following manufacturer's instructions, press fusible-web shapes onto backs of assorted fabric scraps as indicated in specific shirt instructions. Let cool, then cut out fabric shapes on drawn lines; peel off paper backings to make appliqués.

Appliqué T-shirt

Cut and prepare butterfly patterns A through H.

From green-and-turquoise print, cut:

  • 1 of Butterfly Pattern A

From lime green dot, cut:

  • 1 each of butterfly patterns B and B reversed

From light brown print, cut:

  • 1 each of butterfly patterns C, C reversed, E, and E reversed

From blue-green print, cut:

  • 1 each of butterfly patterns D, D reversed, F, and F reversed

From turquoise print, cut:

  • 2 of Butterfly Pattern G

From dark brown dot, cut:

  • 2 of Butterfly Pattern G

From bright green print, cut:

  • 2 of Butterfly Pattern H (Jann fussy-cut her H circles over leaf motifs on her bright green print so they looked like eyes.)

1. Arrange all pieces on bottom edge of T-shirt with part of wings wrapping around to the T-shirt back. Fuse in place following manufacturer's directions; let cool.

2. If using lightweight fusible web, stitch around edges of each piece with a narrow zigzag or blanket stitch.

3. Referring to photo, use black perle cotton and a chain stitch to hand-stitch the antennae. To make a chain stitch, pull needle up at A, form a U shape with the perle cotton, and hold the shape in place with your thumb (Chain Stitch Diagram). Push needle down at B, about 1/8" from A, and come up at C to secure stitch. Continue in same manner to create antennae.