Tutorial: Easy Robot Appliqué

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This story begins with a Bert and Ernie marathon. My son loves Ernie and talked us into watching probably 30 clips on YouTube before nap. He’s very persuasive 🙂

I started thinking how cool it would be to surprise him with an Ernie shirt, and in my search for Ernie inspiration, I stumbled across an awesome it’s-already-been-done tutorial over at MADE. It’s almost exactly what I was hoping to do! But I realized that I didn’t have all the colors I need, and I’m also hoping to do some textures, especially in the hair. So we’re shelving Ernie for later.

But I still had the crafting itch, and it’s been a while since I’ve made something for our family. I’ve been on a steady diet of car seat ponchos (separating zippers, AAAGH), so I really needed something to cleanse the palate.

Dexter has also been deeply immersed in a robot craze, so it didn’t take long for me to change directions.

Step 1: Sketch an awful picture of a robot that you will quickly scrap.

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Step 2: Cut out trapezoids for the head and body, rectangles for the legs and feet, and then shapes for the arms and hands. I used a pincher-type hand, and then I wanted the arms to broaden near the hands. The fabric I used was gray t-shirt scraps.

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Step 3: Place and pin the pieces. I liked the way the pieces didn’t quite touch.

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Step 4: Sew around the edges of the  pieces. I used a black thread, about 1/8” away from the edge. I didn’t use backing, adhesive, or stabilizer, but it might make it  easier to keep the pieces in place if you’re nervous. I didn’t take pictures of the sewing process, so hopefully that’s pretty simple to figure out. Just remember to not sew through all the layers!! You want your shirt to be wearable 🙂 I know this sounds obvious, but it’s exactly the sort of thing I might do without thinking. My robot is still messy in this picture, but eventually clip the threads.

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Step 5: Add features! You can use buttons, fabric, stitching, or paint. Be creative! I took a minimalist approach and I love it! I love that I had a deep red button to sew over the “heart” area 🙂

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When Dexter saw the shirt this morning, he cheered, “Robot!!!” and I knew it was worth the work 🙂

My little photographer was pretending to take pictures of me with the lens cap. He kept saying, “Cheese!!”

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I also like how keeping the pieces separated allows the robot to have a little movement. It’s funny how he looks slumped over when Dex is sitting 🙂

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Dexter is not a fan of photo shoots these days. Even though I don’t force him to do anything, besides stand at least 10 feet away from me, there is something in him that just makes him resist  having pictures taken. It must be the genes he got from his dad!! Here’s where we had to break so he could crawl at me, growling like a monster.

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And then he rests…

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