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Do-It-Yourself Fabric Greek Letter Shirts

Updated on January 29, 2012

When my daughter went to college and joined a sorority, I was shocked at the cost of purchasing shirts with her Greek letters sewn on. So, after purchasing one, I decided to figure out how to make them myself. After some trial and error, we figured out how to create our own shirts for not much more than the cost of the shirt itself. For this purpose, we'll focus on applying the letters across the front of a plain t-shirt. Once you are comfortable with the directions, use your imagination to show off your "letters" on other kinds of apparel and tote bags and more!

Materials Needed

  • Sewing machine with zigzag stitch
  • Iron and ironing board
  • T-shirt, preferably in a solid color with a plain front
  • Template for letters
  • Two complimentary fabrics (about ¼ yard each)
  • Coordinating thread for applique stitch
  • Double-sided fusible interfacing (such as Steam-A-Seam)
  • Lightweight tear-away stabilizer (such as Sulky Tear Easy)
  • Straight pins
  • Scissors

Creating a template for your letters

You can create your template on sturdy cardboard or plastic template material, so you will have it to make additional shirts in the future. You will need two sets of letters, one for the background about 4 ½ inches tall and the other for the foreground, about 3 ½ inches tall.

  • Find a picture or stencil for the desired letters
  • Using a copier, enlarge or shrink the image to create the sizes needed
  • Trace the finished sizes to your cardboard or plastic, and cut out.

Selecting Your Fabrics

Woven cotton or cotton blend fabrics work best. Select two different fabrics which are complimentary in color or contrasting. Be creative, but remember the foreground fabric will the most visible. I recommend a small print or solid fabric for the background.


Foreground and background letters
Foreground and background letters

Directions

Wash and dry t-shirt and fabrics according to laundry directions for each to avoid any potential color bleeding or shrinkage on the finished shirt. Set iron temperature for cotton and press t-shirt and fabrics.

Following the directions provided with the double sided fusible interfacing, iron one side to the wrong (or back) side of your fabrics. Using your templates, trace the shape of the letters directly to the interfacing. CAUTION: Place your templates face down in order to have the correct orientation of the letters on the right side of the fabric. Carefully cut out each of your letters.

Determine the placement of your letters on your t-shirt. It may help to measure from the shoulder seam on either side of the neck opening to create a straight line across the front of the t-shirt. Mark with pins or a chalk pencil.

Following the directions provided with the double sided fusible interfacing, peel off the backing of the interfacing from the foreground letters. Carefully align the foreground letters over the front of the background letters and press with the iron. Now your foreground letters are fused to your background letters. Peel off the interface backing from the background letters.

Place letters on shirt so they are level and centered.
Place letters on shirt so they are level and centered.

Carefully place the letters in the desired position on the t-shirt. Be careful to keep them in a level line and centered on the shirt. Iron the letters so they are fused to the shirt.

Cut a piece of tear-away stabilizer large enough to fit under the letters. Place stabilizer on the underside of the front of the t-shirt, directly under the fused letters, and pin in place around the outside of the letters.

Applique stitch around letters
Applique stitch around letters

Follow your sewing machine directions for applique stitching. If unsure, practice on some scrap fabric to obtain the results you want. Applique stitch around each of the raw edges of the foreground and background letters. Be careful to position the t-shirt in the sewing machine so that you do not sew the front of the shirt to the back. Trim loose threads on the front and back.

Tear away stabilizer
Tear away stabilizer

Tear away stabilizer on the underside of the letters. Iron the t-shirt and show off your Greek pride. .

Wear with pride!
Wear with pride!

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      Colleen 5 years ago

      Looks great mom!!

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      Anon 5 years ago

      Great!

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      Ed 5 years ago

      Great Article Kathy!

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      susan 3 years ago

      on the tear away stabilizer..do you tear away the inside also, or just the outer part of the letters? Thanks for your help and saving me a TON of money!

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      kathydva 3 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Hi Susan, I just tear away what I can easily get to. I don't usually fuss with the small areas between rows of stitching.

    • profile image

      Susan 3 years ago

      Thank you!!

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