Thursday, August 30, 2012

Octonaut tees

Explore! Rescue! Protect!
We are big Octonaut fans in our house. Underwater adventure, exotic sea creatures, submarines, James Bond type gizmos, great animation, cool music - what’s not to love?
I see a whale shark in distress!
To the Octopod!
To celebrate our love of the aquatic explorers I decided to appliqué some t-shirts with the kids’ favourite Octonauts. Little M went for Peso, the penguin medic, and I chose Tweak Bunny for Little P.  I forget why I didn’t consult her first but she was pretty miffed as apparently Kwazii the pirate cat is her favourite. So I ditched the mint green felt and got some bright orange instead.
Here’s what I did - I rounded up two plain t-shirts, some bondaweb, coloured felt, matching embroidery threads and printed off colouring pages of Peso and Kwazii to use as templates.
I’ve used bondaweb once before for a last minute skull and cross bones t-shirt for a pirate and princesss party. It was super quick and easy. If you’ve never used it before it’s basically a thin layer of glue backed with paper. You iron it on, no sewing required.
I started off cutting out templates but quickly realised it was easier to trace the shapes directly onto the bondaweb.
I roughly snipped out my traced pieces of bondaweb, then ironed them onto the felt - smooth papery side up and rough gluey side down. It took about 10 seconds on a medium heat for the glue to fuse. Don’t get your iron too hot. I think mine got switched to max and I managed to singe the orange felt. It went from lovely and fluffy and soft to bald and crispy!
Oh and another tip - don’t do what I did and use your best sewing scissors to cut with bondaweb. You may blunt them! I switched to cutting with the kids’ art scissors and they were plenty sharp enough. Sewing round the edges later neatens up any rough edges anyway.

Next step was to cut out all my bondwebbed bits of felt, peel off the backing paper and iron the pieces glue side down onto the t-shirt starting with the largest pieces first and layering up. So Peso’s bubble helmet went on first, then his black head followed by his white face then details like eyes, beak and hat.
I quickly realised I was never going to cut with enough precision to make the pieces tessellate perfectly so I factored in about a half cm overlap on some pieces for example the inside of the bubble helmet where it meets the head. I thought it may end up a little bumpy but actually it was fine.
Et voila - Peso!

Kwazii was a bit more complicated so I laid all his features out and ironed them onto his face in one go to make sure they looked balanced. At this point I realised my Octonauts were mirror images of the originals. Oops! Not an issue but if I’d thought it through I could have traced from the back of my colouring pages maybe up against a window.
The no sew version looked a bit unfinished, so I threaded up and stem stitched my way around the edges. I wish I’d thought to embroider the hats first because sewing through layers of hardened glue and thick felt was not easy.
In fact I did start to wonder why I’d bothered with the bondweb. I could just have sewn everything direct onto the t-shirts. I think it was a confidence thing. Next time…
But for now there's that lost baby sea horse to rescue... and a big brother to tickle.


  1. These are amazing! My kids would love them. Have you thought about going into an Octonauts business?