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DIY Turkey Shirt Easy Sewing Tutorial

Create custom turkey appliques to sew on to shirts for Thanksgiving. These fun and festive turkey shirts are a big hit with the kids.

These turkey shirts are a labor of love (the good kind) I tell you! I make them every year.

I love how easy it is to tailor these shits to your kid’s favorites. And they’re a great use of fabric scraps.

turkey shirt

Sometimes we’re able to pass last year’s down to the siblings, but most often they’re stained or out grown.

My kids love these turkey shirts so much. I even got to add our cousins to the flock this year.

That’s one reason we hardly ever reuse them-they want to wear them all year long! By the time the next November rolls around, they’re well worn.

My son paired last year’s turkey shirt with his bright blue and red crab applique shorts this summer. Forget Christmas in July, he was ready for Thanksgiving.

turkey shirt

Over the years I’ve made these turkey shirts several different ways. I added fabric eyes, beaks, feet and even a wattle.

On these, I embroidered the eyes and added a simple beak. It was super quick and held up well.

turkey shirt

A fabric marker works really well for the eyes. I have used ribbon instead of fabric for the feathers, but that look seems more for the girls only.

So make these your own, this is just a simple tutorial-feel free to embellish to your hearts desire.

Green shirt with fabric turkey sew on to the shirt.

Materials:

Heat ‘n Bond*

Various Fabric Scraps; fat quarters* are great if you don’t have a lot of fabric on hand.

T-shirt*

Turkey Applique

Sewing machine, thread, scissors, ironing board & iron.

Download and print your turkey and feathers template.

Cut out the size turkey body you need and the feathers you prefer. I’ve included a small turkey body for young babies, newborn to 1 year. I used the larger body for my 2 year old through 10 year old shirts.

I also added two different size/style of feathers, so take your pick. You only need to cut one out to use as a tracing template.

If you trace it on to a cereal box or old file folder they’re sturdy enough to reuse. I keep patterns I want to use again in file folder.


Pin it here:

turkey shirt

Scroll down for the Turkey Shirt Tutorial

Red t-shirt with hand sewn turkey applique.

Turkey Shirt Applique Sewing Tutorial

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $10

Sew on a colorful turkey to a t-shirt for Thanksgiving.

Materials

  • Heat ‘n Bond
  • Various Fabric Scraps; fat quarters are great if you don’t have a lot of fabric on hand.
  • T-shirt
  • Turkey Applique

Tools

  • Sewing machine
  • thread-matching or contrasting
  • scissors
  • ironing board & iron.

Instructions

    1. Download and print your turkey and feathers template.
    2. Cut out the size turkey body you need and the feathers you prefer. I’ve included a small turkey body for young babies, newborn to 1 year. I used the larger body for my 2 year old through 10 year old shirts.
    3. There are two different size/style of feathers, so take your pick. You only need to cut one out to use as a tracing template.

      Tip-If you trace it on to a cereal box or old file folder they’re sturdy enough to reuse. I keep patterns I want to use again in file folder.
    4. Trace 7 turkey feathers per shirt (or more if you prefer) on the paper side of your Heat ‘n Bond. I made 6 shirts at once so I traced a bunch here.Turkey feathers traced on stabilizer.
    5. Lay your fabric right side down and then lay the Heat ‘n Bond with traced feather(s) on it. The shiny side of the Heat ‘n Bond should touch the wrong side of your fabric. Follow the directions on the Heat ‘n Bond package.Lay stabilizer on back of fabric.
    6. Use an iron set on low-medium heat to lightly iron the fabric onto the Heat ‘n Bond feathers. This will adhere the shiny side to the fabric. Do not place your hot iron on the shiny side of Heat ‘n Bond directly.Iron on to fabric.
    7. Once prepared, cut the feathers out.Cut prepared feathers out.One green fabric feather cut.
    8. Peel the paper backing off of your fabric feathers.Peel backing off. This is the side you traced your feather on. It’s a bit like peeling off a sticker. It can be tricky to get that first corner up, but after that it’s a cinch. You’ll be able to see the shiny glue on the fabric feather as you peel away the paper backing. Repeat for the turkey body.
    9. Now the fun part-arrange your turkey feathers. The Heat ‘n Bond will not stick at this point, so you can rearrange as needed.Arrange feathers in order.
    10. Be sure all the feather ends are tucked behind your turkey’s body. Using a medium setting, iron feathers and turkey down on to the shirt. This will keep them in place until you get them sewed down.Lay turkey body in center of feathers.
    11. Sew down the turkey body and all the feathers using a 1/8″ seam allowance. This will allow the edges to fray in the wash, but that’s a good thing since it’s a turkey! If you prefer a more secure stitch, then use a satin stitch or zigzag stitch to enclose the edges. If you’re new to applique read on for more details.Sew down turkey.
    12. Be sure to back tack when you start and stop sewing.Back stitch to secure.
    13. For each feather I started sewing where it met the body. Start by back tacking to lock your stitches.Sew around each feather on turkey shirt.
    14. When approaching the curves, go slowly. Stop and lift the presser foot and turn your fabric slightly to follow the curve of the feather.Sew along feather of turkey shirt.
    15. Lower the presser foot, sew a few stitches slowly. Continue to lift and adjust as you work around the curve.Sew slow on curves.
    16. Be sure to back tack at the end of one feather (I stopped where one feather met the next feather. Pull your thread loose and then move to the next feather.Adjust foot to align curve on turkey shirt.
    17. Continue sewing each feather in this way until all edges have been sewn down.Pull up thread on turkey shirt.
    18. Pull your threads to the back of your shirt.Pull threads to back of turkey shirt.
    19. To do this pull lightly on the threads that are already on the back side.Threads loose ready to pull up.
    20. Pulling the thread will loosen this loop, keep pulling.Finger pointing at loop pulled up.
    21. Keep pulling until the thread comes all the way through to the back.Back of turkey shirt.
    22. Now tie the loose threads together and snip. This will help secure those many curves where back tacking wasn’t just a straight line.Tie in knots and trim.
    23. If there are any that won’t pull to the back, then they were probably well secured when back tacking and can be snipped close on the front.Finished blue turkey shirt.
    24. Flip it over and admire your handiwork!
    25. I embroidered the eyes and beak with thread. I used a yellow for the beak and just sew two small lines to form the beak. For the eyes I tied little knots in blue and secured it with a stitch.Face of turkey embroidered on shirt.
    26. Now make a few more!

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