Scissors Craft: Easy Birthday Appliqué Number Shirt (Tutorial)

Well, hello 5-year-old!

Scissors Craft: Easy Birthday Girl or Boy Number Shirt Tutorial
time involved: 45 minutes-1 hour

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I wanted to make a custom T-shirt for my daughter's fifth birthday party. At first, I toyed with the obvious "Birthday Girl" slogan, but I know she'd wear it once and then it would sink lower and lower to the bottom of her shirt drawer, only to see the light of day during the next "you've outgrown these" purge. Being the practical girl I am, I decided to make a number shirt! She can wear that whenever and it's so much more clever than stating the obvious.

She was very happy with the finished product and I was quite pleased with how it easy was to make. All together, it probably took only about 45 minutes from start to finish. Make one for your little one too, just follow these instructions and get crafting!

If you are feeling extra crafty, follow this tutorial on how to make custom treat bags to match your shirt!

Step One: Drawing your number 
Materials need:
plain printer paper, fusible webbing, a pencil, sharp scissors, a plain T-shirt, an iron and fabric (a light twill or quilting weight will work well).

On a plain sheet of paper, either print out a large (about 5" tall), bold number or draw one of your own. The simple and bolder the style, the easier it will be to cut out and apply to the shirt. Fortunately for me, I have a in-house letterer who drew me a number based on his font, Ed Interlock from House Industries. Cut your numeral out with an Xacto or a sharp pair of scissors. This will be the template for your appliqué.

Step 2: Using the fusible webbing
The fusible webbing is sandwiched between two pieces of a waxy paper. Trace your template in reverse on one side of the paper. Cut the digit out (with a border around it--don't cut along the lines of the character. See below).

Step 3: Attaching the webbing to your fabric
Peel the paper off from the opposite side of your numeral. Stick the character, adhesive side down, onto the wrong side of the fabric. It is repositionable until it is ironed, so don't sweat it if you don't get it in the right spot the first time. Leave the the paper on the webbing. Carefully cut the number out using very sharp scissors.

Step 3 (end result): The big 5 with webbing and paper, still attached. Your appliqué is ready to be applied! 
Step 4: Affixing the applique to your shirt!
This is the most rewarding and easiest part of the process! Set up your iron (on high) and ironing board. Peel the backing of the numeral off. Flip over, adhesive side down, and position it on your T-shirt. It is repositionable, so don't worry if it sticks, it will peel off again so you can get it in the perfect spot. Iron it to the T-shirt on high heat for a minute or so (follow the package directions). You're done! Now let's throw a birthday party!

Step 5: Wear it and have fun!
End result: 15 girls. One fun pottery painting party. One cute five-year-old proudly wearing her new birthday shirt! The pottery paint came off in the wash and the number held up in the washer AND dryer! It actually looked better once washed.

Now that you've made your shirt, get cracking making these easy mini-totes for the guests' treat bags! Have a great party!


  1. Thanks for sharing this tutorial! Helped me in making a shirt for my son's recent 2nd birthday. :)

  2. Thanks for this great tutorial! I'll be using this to make a shirt for my baby girl's Halloween costume this year. :)

    I'd love for you to come link this up with So Sweet Sundays!

  3. thanks for sharing. I will be using for my daughters 2nd birthday in 2 weeks.

  4. This would make a great bonding time with me and the kids, thank you very much for sharing this.

  5. AnonymousMay 13, 2012

    thanks for the tutorial! I bought a shirt like this on etsy last year and don't have enough time to order one this year-your tutorial is going to make it really easy to do this after bedtime one night this week-just in time for my son's second birthday party on Saturday!

  6. Hi! I am getting ready to try this for my twins' birthday in a couple of weeks. I was thinking about hand embroidering around the border, but wasn't sure if this would be difficult with the fusible webbing. Any suggestions? :)

    1. Hi! No, I don't think so at all! The webbing is really light and doesn't really add that much thickness to the fabric. Good luck! Please send me a pic of your shirts and happy birthday! :)

  7. Thank you so much for posting this tutorial~! I can't wait to make a t-shirt for my son this week :D

  8. Hi, I used this idea for my son's 1st birthday shirt:

    1. That's great! Thanks so much for sharing. He's so cute!


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