Sew Cute: Embroidered Tee

After a few days of sun and high temperatures in the Windy City, I’m in full-on summer mode. I’m swapping out the sweaters and boots in my closet for sandals and dresses, and am attempting to remember how to re-install my window air conditioning unit (no luck so far).

My craft today is a follow-up of sorts to my bracelet from a couple of weeks ago: it’s an airy, bohemian-inspired piece using bright embroidery thread. I wanted to update the classic white tee with some colorful stitching. The finished top is still cool and light, but the flowers give it a nice summer-y pop. And if you’re unsure about embroidery, don’t worry—this was my first time trying it, and I’m happy to report that it’s both easy and fun!


  • Basic tee
  • Embroidery thread
  • Embroidery needle
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Pencil or marker (make sure it’s water soluble)
  • Scissors
  • Optional: template

Craft away:

  • Make your design on the shirt by drawing flowers and leaves just under the collar, using the water-soluble pencil or marker. You can either use a small template like I did, or freehand your design.
  • Once your design is in place, put a section of the tee in the embroidery hoop. To do this, loosen the screw at the top of the hoop, separate the two rings, and put the smaller one under the fabric of the tee. Place the larger hoop over it, and screw the two hoops back together. Make sure the fabric is pulled tight between the hoops.
  • Cut a couple of feet of embroidery thread and thread the needle. Tie a knot at one end, but leave the tail of the thread that’s through the eye of the needle un-knotted. I recommend using the full piece of thread, without separating any strands—this gives a thicker line as you stitch.
  • Begin stitching over your pattern lines, filling in the negative space to create solid shapes. Tie a knot after completing each little section to secure your work in place. You’ll have to move your embroidery hoop around as you go.
  • After you’ve finished your stitches, give your shirt a quick rinse to remove any traces of the pencil or marker.
  • You’re finished! Show off your fresh new tee by pairing it with some skinny jeans or high-rise shorts.