TUTORIAL: Doily Heart Shirt

by Dana on February 1, 2012

It’s getting harder to shoot pics of Lucy without her being posey-posey or totally silly.
Of course it’s still cute and makes me laugh.
But if Owen’s around to distract her, some of the natural expressions come out.
Mostly she was just excited about her new Valentine’s Day shirt. I was pretty happy with how it turned out too.
I’ve been prepping everything for V-day coming up so I don’t have to worry about school parties, etc. when the new baby is here. And this shirt seemed like an easy place to start.

Now, I can’t take credit for the idea. I saw it in the Disney Family Fun magazine. But you know how magazine crafts usually are–one small photo with very limited info. So I added my own twist on it and created a little tutorial for you with tips at the end of the steps. It’s similar to freezer paper stenciling/painting, only the paper doily is your stencil!
Here’s what you do….ADDITIONAL TIPS:
* You can buy paper doilies at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and other craft stores. If you’re having difficulty finding them, look in the cake decorating section
* Larger doilies work better than small ones
* I attached my doily to the fabric with a bit of tape in the middle of the doily but you could try a glue stick? You’d need to wash the shirt afterward.
* Be careful as you paint that you don’t push any paint outside of the heart. I found that lightly dabbing the paint around the edges worked well, to get the paint in those little holes. It helps to hold the edge of the doily with your fingers as you go, so it doesn’t lift up.
* Some of the paint may seep through the little doily holes. But I kind of like how it looks…inconsistencies give it character.
* You can also stencil directly to the shirt and skip the applique method I did here (i.e. painting to the purple fabric and sewing it to the shirt) but I would definitely do a test-run first on scrap fabric to see how your paint/doily works before tackling a cute shirt.
* Some of the doily may tend to stick as you pull it away from the shirt when the paint is dry. Use your finger or the end of a seam ripper to carefully pick the little pieces off.
* Pink T-shirt here is from Walmart, in the girl’s section. $3.50. They have other cute shades. The purple fabric is a knit scrap leftover from a thrifted T-shirt.
* Fabric Paint can be purchased at most craft stores. I prefer Tulip brand, matte finish, about $2/bottle.
* Heat setting your paint is important otherwise the paint will fade as you wash it. Read the back of your paint bottle for more info but typically you do this by covering the paint with a cloth and ironing over the top for a minute or so to “seal” the paint.

And that’s about it!
Time to decorate….
(Lucy’s always thrilled about that)
Thanks Luce for being my little guinea pig. I’m glad you find fun in it all too.

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 delia February 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm

I love her goofy expressions. Owen’s like that too. He likes to give me bug eyes or half close them and stick his chin out. I have to make him laugh to get a good picture sometimes. :)

Cute shirt!


2 Lindsay February 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm

So cute. Thanks for sharing! Am going to make a Vday onesie for my 4 month old. Fun!


3 anna February 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm

awe, she so sweet. i love it though when you can get their real expressions. :)


4 Emily February 1, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Super cute! Love the pictures and Lucy’s hair too.


5 Polly @ Helping Little Hands February 1, 2012 at 2:53 pm

I’ve seen these heart doily shirts all over the place…but not with it appliqued on before. I LOVE this version. I really like how the applique makes it stand out against the rest of the shirt. And as usual…awesome photography. :)


6 Whitney February 1, 2012 at 2:53 pm

I can’t see anything between Here’s what to do and Additional tips :(


7 Helen February 1, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Definitely going to do this, this weekend! Thanks!!


8 Jenny February 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Oh that is so cute! I didn’t see that project. Lucy is a doll, Dana. She’s getting so big!


9 Sourire11 February 1, 2012 at 3:16 pm

So cute!!!!!


10 Tammy February 1, 2012 at 3:17 pm

This was my favorite craft in the Disney Family Fun magazine. What a cute twist though! I like your version better.


11 Tammy February 1, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Spray adhesive works wonders with the doilies.


12 Jen February 1, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I LOVE THIS! Thank you for this, my five year old son just leaned over my shoulder and saw Lucy and said “Wow, that girl is pretty”. He doesn’t even tell his sisters that they are pretty.


13 Heather F February 1, 2012 at 3:33 pm

So cute! I am definitely going to make this for my girls!


14 Michelle February 1, 2012 at 3:40 pm

This is totally from family fun! I love it


15 Katie February 1, 2012 at 3:44 pm

She is such a cutie, Dana. And she’s getting so big!

The shirt is super adorable. I love how simple it is. And I am totally with you on magazine craft ideas not giving nearly enough information. It’s like it would physically kill them to write a complete paragraph. :)


16 Hilda February 1, 2012 at 3:59 pm

okay this is pure brilliance!!!


17 Tiffany February 1, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Don’t know if this has been suggested by anyone else, but you can use spray adhesive, and it works great. It really seals the doily around all the edges so the paint doesn’t bleed underneath. It’s cheap and everyone carries it.


18 Debra February 1, 2012 at 4:50 pm

So cute! I’d like to try cutting out a doily stencil on freezer paper with my Silhouette, so I could iron it on and not worry about bleeding around the edges. The applique is genius. Can’t wait to try it!


19 Twins Squared February 1, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Oh my goodness, I just read this in Family Fun today and wanted to give it a try. You are so smart to paint on a piece of scrap fabric. I would have probably wasted a couple of shirts. :)


20 Christy February 1, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Yeah….my daughter just turned 5 and is VERY MUCH WITH THE POSING. It’s both annoying and hilarious. Gotta take each phase for what it is I guess!

Good luck in your last few days – love the shirt!!



21 Kim February 1, 2012 at 7:51 pm

So stinkin’ adorable! Now I want to make matching shirts for my two girls (9 yrs and 2 yrs). When you have two girls, you’re allowed to do matchy matchy stuff sometimes, right? :)


22 Kim February 1, 2012 at 8:29 pm

She seems to have grown up over the Summer! Lovely, happy young lady.


23 Kim February 1, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Oops Sorry! We’re in the Southern Hemisphere.

Let me rephrase that

She seems to have grown up over Winter!


24 meg duerksen February 1, 2012 at 8:49 pm



25 Crystalyn February 1, 2012 at 9:16 pm

In that last photo on the left she looks so much like my niece Autumn. My daughter is getting super cheesy in front of photos too! I’m just glad she’ll let me take photos at all. She went through an ‘anti-camera’ phase for a little bit.


26 Anna February 1, 2012 at 9:54 pm

We made these at my daughter’s birthday party this weekend! We did it as the magazine suggested and used glue sticks to attach them to the shirts. It worked like a dream! No sticky residue left either! It really helped the doily to stick in all the detailed spots. Each girl got to pick their colors and dab away. they turned out SO cute!
I love the appliqué idea too- another way to add in more dimensions!


27 Anne (Cookie) Webb January 28, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Does the glue stick remove the doily easily from the tee shirt? It sounds like the paint pattern is better! Thanks!


28 sunny February 2, 2012 at 12:16 am

I love this, can’t wait to try it!


29 Rebekah February 2, 2012 at 2:44 am

Holy cow that is cute!! Makes me want a girl so bad. Alas…I’m due with my third boy in March. (But I’m not sad about that!)


30 chelsea February 2, 2012 at 8:19 am

Super cute, almost looks like embroidery!


31 iHeartQuilting February 2, 2012 at 9:17 am

What a cute idea! And I love her blunt haircut – it looks like it swings all over the place when she plays. :)


32 Heidi February 2, 2012 at 11:58 am

I love this idea! Really, this would work just as well for a simple embellished T for Mom, too. I’d use a collage of round doilies instead of hearts for a grown up. It would make a lovely, lace look for cheap! Thanks, Dana!


33 April February 2, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Very, very cute. I wonder if you can do this with a bleach pin with a colored shirt?


34 Dana February 2, 2012 at 1:56 pm

I was thinking of that too. I’m sure it would work. Go for it!


35 Jo February 2, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Thank you for the tutorial. I bought a t-shirt that I love from Jeans West which has a doily heart print on! Now I can make more for me and my little girl. :)


36 Andi February 2, 2012 at 6:51 pm

I absolutely love this! Very adorable and simple! I am trying to think of something for my 4 1/2 yr-old son that I can make him for V-day. Any suggestions?


37 Jessi February 3, 2012 at 9:13 am

Dana, I love how you still make handmade projects. Many people use silhouettes for iron ons, etc. but it takes away from a sweet homemade look, the character :)


38 Jessica Linke February 3, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Hmmmm….I wonder if I could get away with doing this in more masculine colours for my son? ;) Maybe if I hand painted on something about Valentine’s, like ‘Be My Valentine’ in cursive so people would get the connection…


39 Laura February 4, 2012 at 2:08 am

I like your doily heart tee better than any other one I have seen. I love the different color heart sewn on. Now I want to make one. Thanks for the inspiration and good luck having a baby this weekend.


40 Emily February 4, 2012 at 4:38 pm

I agree with some of the other commenters – I have used spray adhesive with lots of luck to do a bleached shirt. Instead of a bleach pen, though, I mixed 50/50 solution of bleach and water and sprayed. There’s the doily pattern inside of the bleach overspray pattern, which is nice. :)


41 Sarah February 4, 2012 at 11:10 pm

SO darling!


42 cucicucicoo February 6, 2012 at 8:45 am

very cute idea and super cute girl! even better that she’s posey-posey and silly! :) lisa


43 Michelle February 10, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Just wanted to let you know that I’ve added your post to a roundup post of these doily tshirts on my blog!

P.S.–Good Luck with your new little one!


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