Thursday, August 25, 2016

Monsters: A Stitching Saga

A gripping monster story unfolds

You sometimes need little more incentive than an utterly boring shirt to trigger a sewing project. It helps to have a five-year-old and seven-year-old on hand who are masters in art naif. I put in a request for monsters and they delivered, as shown in the test embroideries below.

Test monsters and victims

Big armless monster with horns

Fleeing victim with one arm and head on fire

Victim who looks ready to fight back

Small monster with lots of hair, no arms, and a beak

Before showing off the monster shirt, here is a quick how-to regarding altering and transferring a child's crayon scribbles into an embroidery template.

Here are the original drawings:

AJ's monsters and victims

Cici's monster and victims

The first step was to scan the pictures and then convert them from color to grayscale. I used Photoshop, but you can use any graphic software. I also played a bit with sizes of the figures, and arranged them on a sheet for printing out using InDesign. You could print directly from your graphic program or place them into a Word document or whatever.

Page full of monsters for printing

I then cut the monsters out individually, readying them for transfer. For the test monsters at the start of this post, I simply used a sheet of carbon paper to trace the black and white monster image onto the linen. For the monster shirt, which is dark gray, I used transfer paper specifically designed for use in transferring marks onto cloth. It rubs right away (in fact, you have to be careful not to smudge it away while hand stitching) and comes in a pack of five sheets of different colors. I used white to transfer onto gray.

Using chalky transfer paper to trace the image onto the cloth

The transferred image

Stitching the transferred image

And now for the final product: the monster shirt. The front of the shirt remains completely plain with no embroidery, offering no clues to the turmoil happening on the back.

Shirt front

On the back, a losing battle is in progress.

Shirt back
At the top, we see a monster in the center, surrounded by victims who are screaming, panicking and trying to flee.

Upper shirt back

Victims are fleeing to the back of either sleeve, and a bunch of victims think they've found a way out, running diagonally down the shirt and trying to escape at the lower corner. What they don't realize is that the small, beaked, hairy monster lies in wait for them there.

Victims try to escape

Little monster lying in wait

And there you have it — the shirt is no longer boring.


  1. The shirt is great and so are the test pieces.
    Vancouver Barbara

  2. Just stumbled across your blog and you have made me smile from ear to ear. Really enjoying your posts. Thank you.


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