Vintage-Looking State Shirts (tutorial)

by ilene on July 11, 2011 · 153 comments

in sewing, tutorial

A couple of Jeff’s good friends were visiting from Texas a few weeks ago. They used to live in Boston but moved to Dallas last year and we were so sad to see them go. They have the cutest 2 year old boy that we miss having around.Β Β  I made their little toddler a couple t-shirts that displayed the two states that he has lived in his short life so far. I found the perfect plain slub cotton t-shirts from J Crew’s Crewcuts on sale for $4. I love how the slub cotton paired with the felt make the shirts look vintage-y.

First, I printed out Texas and Massachusetts shapes from my computer. IΒ  googled for the state maps and then blew them up in Photoshop to the size that I wanted, then cut out to use as a stencil:

Trace the stencils onto the felt then cut out with scissors:

I added a felt start to where Dallas is on the map because that is where they live now. I added a heart to where Boston is because that’s where his parents met and fell in love (and where he was born):

Place and pin in place on the t-shirts:

Then slowly sew in place with a sewing machine:

I love how these turned out!!!

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1 Shelly July 21, 2011 at 10:11 pm

These look great – thanks for the tute! I agree that the slub knit shirts just make the look.

I think it’s hilarious how many counties Texas has, as evidenced by your template. We moved here a couple of years ago and it seemed so odd, as I came from a state with *just* 16.

2 Leslie July 27, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Oh, wow!! I am Texan, born and raised. How do you like us so far?

3 Holly July 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Love it! I want to make one. πŸ™‚

4 Charissa July 25, 2011 at 8:55 pm

These are really cute! So, how does the felt hold up to washing? I’ve never used it before on something that will be washed a lot.

5 pezcita July 26, 2011 at 11:51 am

So cute! Love the star and the heart. He’s lucky to live in Texas. (Well, except maybe for this summer.)

6 dennisfinocchiaro July 26, 2011 at 11:51 am

This is too cool! They really do look vintage. Neat post!

7 cooperbenz July 26, 2011 at 11:59 am

Good idea.

8 The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife July 26, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Great shirt idea!

9 beingzhenya July 26, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Going to make a MINNESOTA one, once I am done with the wedding πŸ™‚ hehe

10 Melissa July 26, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Super cute idea! I def want to make a Minnesota one too! πŸ™‚

11 Gail-Tzipporah Saunders July 26, 2011 at 12:23 pm

How clever is that? Illinois, here we come! ; )

12 superyeager July 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Cool idea. I just moved from TX to TN so maybe I can get my lady to make me something like this. She is crafty. Check out this cool sticker design too, maybe give you more ideas.

13 Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide July 26, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Very cool! You just need to write Don’t Mess with Texas on the back.

14 Leslie July 27, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Agreed! πŸ˜‰

15 UrbanJungleFashion July 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm


16 edwincov July 26, 2011 at 12:47 pm

So awesome!!!!!! I love crafty stuff! Thanks for sharing this, and congrats on being freshly pressed!


17 Jacqueline July 26, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Cute! I wonder how CA would turn out.

18 MegRobins July 26, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Ahhh! I want to make one! I love this! Thanks for sharing!


19 eripaige July 26, 2011 at 1:20 pm

This is an amazing idea! I would love to do this for my little niece who has moved from California (in San Fran) to Illinois!

20 Cassia July 26, 2011 at 1:25 pm

These are SO much fun!! Oh MY πŸ˜€

21 Mikalee Byerman July 26, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Such a completely thoughtful gift — thanks for the inspiration!


22 elisa beth July 26, 2011 at 1:51 pm

so creative! And you’re such a good friend, making the t-shirt isn’t that fast and instant! Yours are great, pretty sure the t-shirt means a lot to your friend!
great post : )

23 61degreesnorth July 26, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I love these! I will be making one asap πŸ™‚

24 cravesadventure July 26, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Neat idea – thanks for sharing. Some states have more interesting shapes than others – Hawaii could be an interesting one to create on a t-shirt. Congrats on being FP!

25 Lakia Gordon July 26, 2011 at 2:01 pm

AWESOME! I’m in the process of creating shirts!! These are classic and I will use the idea! Getting shirts made are SO expensive.

26 Wednesday's Child July 26, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Wonderful idea! Thanks for sharing. Of course, I can’t sew, but thanks to your post I can have some of these shirts made pretty cheaply and at least feel like a part of the process by designing them and cutting out the felt. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

27 guitareste July 26, 2011 at 2:03 pm

I love these!

28 fashiondiy101 July 26, 2011 at 2:18 pm

cool! this is great! subscribed! pls do visit my blog to.. im doing a DIY very soon.. :))

29 Meanwhile, back at the ranch... July 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm

What an adorable idea. Now I just need to acquire some sewing skills and I’ll be all over making myself a North Dakota shirt!! Thanks for sharing!

30 natasiarose July 26, 2011 at 2:23 pm

So cute! I think I’m going to attempt one with Florida on it, because I’m immature like that.

31 Lindsay July 26, 2011 at 2:27 pm

I want these! Do you have an Etsy shop?

32 ilene July 26, 2011 at 6:23 pm

I wish I had an etsy store! Maybe I should start one!

ilene πŸ™‚

33 Jess Witkins July 26, 2011 at 2:56 pm

This is the cutest gift idea ever. I love it! Do you sell them? I would love to have something like this from the places I’ve visited.

34 trialsinfood July 26, 2011 at 2:59 pm

cute idea!

35 Herbaloo, Earth Apprentice July 26, 2011 at 3:03 pm

VT and RI coming soon – nice post! thanks

36 kati0099 July 26, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I love these T-shirt

37 politeandparanoid July 26, 2011 at 3:33 pm

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!!!!! So cool!! I’ve got to try this!

38 Rivki @ Life in the Married Lane... July 26, 2011 at 3:52 pm

So adorable! If I had an ounce of spare time (and a sewing machine), I would totally make a shirt for my two-year-old! Beautiful work.

39 Ebay Discount Coupons July 26, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Hey Nice Shirts

40 seesuestitch July 26, 2011 at 4:23 pm

luv this, they came out really cute, thanx for sharing!!

41 mediamugshot July 26, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Great idea! Thanks for sharing!

42 Ω…Ω†ΨͺΨ―Ω‰ July 26, 2011 at 4:52 pm

cute idea!

43 Steve July 26, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Cool! Thx for this tutorial.

44 myheartisimple July 26, 2011 at 5:04 pm

i LOVE making stuff like this and being creative! thanks for such a neat idea! i’m going to make one for my daughter for our lovely state of SC! πŸ™‚

45 MaximumWage July 26, 2011 at 5:17 pm

like the shirts, its a good way to show state pride!

46 Eva McCane July 26, 2011 at 5:21 pm

cute idea! we have a store in the des moines area that makes pretty cool state-specific american apparel shirts…Raygun. it’s print work, but fabulous. thanks for sharing!

47 allaboutgoodlife July 26, 2011 at 6:11 pm


48 RO July 26, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Super cute!! I totally want to make one for myself now. Your blog has some amazing ideas, bravo to you!!!

49 the island traveler July 26, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Howdy. I enjoyed reading this post but what caught my eye the most was the Texas shape fabric with the Star on it. Superb.

50 l2ooaliceool2 July 26, 2011 at 7:28 pm

These look Nice!! I love vintage style β™₯ and want to make one !!

51 TweeCo July 26, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Great idea!
I love it…
Thanks for sharing

52 newsy1 July 26, 2011 at 8:47 pm

So much better than most typical kid’s gifts. Makes me wish I was not sewing challenged. Great post!

53 hswinson July 26, 2011 at 9:03 pm

ah, this is so cool! Definitely gonna try a South Carolina one πŸ™‚ Thanks for the tips!

54 zhaoogle July 26, 2011 at 9:18 pm

So original and creative. I love your idea.

55 Anonymous July 26, 2011 at 9:21 pm

we love these shirts and tyler wears them all the time! to the question about whether they shrink after wash, so far so good! so nope, we haven’t had any problems with that =)

56 connorska July 26, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Your t-shirts are adorable! They remind me of a favorite t-shirt that I bought at a small boutique in Providence by artist Hilary Treadwell, featuring the states of Texas and Rhode Island:

Now you’ve inspired me to make my own!

57 Connie T July 26, 2011 at 10:22 pm

This is such a cute project to make.

58 Anonymous July 26, 2011 at 10:34 pm

wa—-o.. really nice ~

59 levidavie July 26, 2011 at 10:34 pm

take a look at my blog levidavie.wordpress

60 Jim Bures July 26, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I love those shirts! So awesome. I want to buy one like that for me! Do you sell them in XXXXL? LOL!

61 Laura July 26, 2011 at 11:37 pm

What a coincidence, I just moved from Dallas to Boston! Can you make me the same two shirts? Except of course, with the star and heart reversed ;p

62 whoopiecookie July 27, 2011 at 12:03 am

I just made one for my daughter! She loves it!

63 ilene July 27, 2011 at 12:13 am

wow that was fast!!! awesome!!!

64 GraceLynneFleming July 27, 2011 at 12:37 am

thanks for sharing this – loved it.


65 be awake July 27, 2011 at 12:45 am

these are cool. congrats for a idea πŸ™‚

66 michely looz July 27, 2011 at 12:53 am

good post. thinking to make something like that. hugs,

67 Rayme Wells of A Clean Surface July 27, 2011 at 1:04 am


68 fornormalstepfathers July 27, 2011 at 1:13 am

I always think of Fred Flinstone’s profile when I see Illinois on the map πŸ™‚

69 Harishh July 27, 2011 at 2:44 am

very nice,,,, those stars, zoo

70 creativeconfessions July 27, 2011 at 2:55 am

These are cool. I’m gonna try them out on one of my tiresomely boring shirts… πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing!

71 Joseph Figgiani July 27, 2011 at 3:43 am

Very cool idea. Good luck to you.

72 candice594 July 27, 2011 at 4:04 am

Good job!I can’t help to trying to do it by myself,thanks for sharing this creative idea.

73 kat July 27, 2011 at 4:06 am

Oh my gosh, that is sooo cute! Those shirts remind of the day when Urban Outfitters use to cool state themed shirts! Thanks for sharing! I’m new to blogging here and I just love how supportive and creative everyone is! If you have time, could you please check out my blog? I would love some advice and feedback, and how to get more exposure πŸ™‚

74 ennospace July 27, 2011 at 4:09 am

It is a great DIY idea!!

75 kat July 27, 2011 at 4:13 am

oops!! see i don’t even know how to use wordpress correctly! hahaha it’s πŸ™‚

76 aahin July 27, 2011 at 6:06 am


77 lalaichie July 27, 2011 at 6:18 am

simple.. n cool πŸ˜€

78 hilaryaustin July 27, 2011 at 7:40 am

what I really like about the clothes are the soft and comfortable cottons. They are just so nice to wear and you can feel them when you are wrap into your body.

79 Carol July 27, 2011 at 9:22 am

Very cute!

80 barrycyrus July 27, 2011 at 9:24 am


81 ucinskij July 27, 2011 at 9:58 am

This is just the cutest idea! I will making my “Michigan” state shirt asap!

82 Krysta Marie [Purple Pond] July 27, 2011 at 10:07 am

These are ADORABLE! Love your blog!

83 blackshepherd July 27, 2011 at 10:41 am

awesome! cause the one I love is in Texas and I’m in Boston….Austin/Boston….sheer poetry and she’s a poet too….sheer unadulterated poetry….love them….!!! Great Job!

84 Lindsay Conner July 27, 2011 at 10:49 am
85 Anonymous July 27, 2011 at 10:52 am

Absolutely adorable!!! Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

86 ournote2self July 27, 2011 at 10:53 am

Absolutely adorable! Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

87 Boodoomoo July 27, 2011 at 10:57 am

These are sooo cute!!! love them! great idea!

88 Auspicious Wedding Dates July 27, 2011 at 11:22 am

It looks pretty cute really πŸ™‚
Like the simple colour schemes too and localized design compared to flowery patterns all over the shirt.

89 itsbritt July 27, 2011 at 11:36 am

in love <3 so cute! and they look easy, but knowing me and my sewing skills, i'm sure i'll mess up πŸ™‚ thanks for sharing!

90 luca zanasca July 27, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Davvero originale! Potrei fare lo stesso con le regioni italiane!

91 Leslie July 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Totally amazing shirts! Love the Texas Star!!

92 fe0208 July 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Love this!!!

93 wrap me in phyllo dough July 27, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Love it love it love it!! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m from Montana, and there’s a more-than-mildly ridiculous pride around here for those of us from the 406 (the area code for the ENTIRE state). Now I can wear my pride on my shirt! πŸ™‚

94 Katie Louise July 27, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Oh, these are brilliant! I love how they turned out.

95 Tara Fly July 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm

I’m amazed by anyone with the skill to maneuver a sewing machine around all those jagged state borders!! I’m just learning to use a machine, having sewn everything by hand all my life, and can barely manage a straight line!!

Your T-shirts are adorable, and I’m sure he got a kick out of wearing them. πŸ˜€

96 xmissyleex July 27, 2011 at 2:09 pm

this is such a cute idea~
these shirts are exactly like those necklaces that Forever21 stole from an etsy artist~
but if you make it yourself it’s not like using someone else’s idea for corporate profit~~

97 sockmonkeey July 27, 2011 at 2:12 pm

i LOVE these! great idea; i can’t wait to try it out!

98 mindbloggingtome July 27, 2011 at 2:35 pm

i like the simplicity of the shirt.. i wish can try making one for myself. =D

99 nazarioartpainting July 27, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Thank You for the idea. I love it!

100 Meg July 27, 2011 at 2:44 pm

these are gorgeous, i want one!

101 frenchonionfinds July 27, 2011 at 3:08 pm

These are great. I have an obsession with my state so I’ll definitely be trying this someday! Thanks for the tutorial!

102 SandraR July 27, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Thank you for the tutorial, love these t-shirts

103 samswork July 27, 2011 at 3:28 pm


104 Posky July 27, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I like the little pockets. You could keep half a sandwich in there!

105 glorifiedsecretary July 27, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Love these (well, not the Texas one because I’m an Okie, but that’s neither here nor there)!

106 watercoolerlaughs July 27, 2011 at 6:12 pm

So cool! You make it look very easy!

107 levidavie July 27, 2011 at 7:19 pm

this is really cool can you stop by my page?

108 Samantha July 27, 2011 at 8:19 pm

So cute!

109 malikthewiseforever July 27, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Cool clothing gear.

110 kinabuch July 27, 2011 at 10:33 pm

love it!

111 Dream Factory. July 28, 2011 at 4:18 am

looks good!!!

112 Subdued Interludes July 28, 2011 at 4:47 am

i love vintage shirts! thanks for sharing!

113 Vadym July 28, 2011 at 5:43 am

Great idea. After all, so you can do with each country. Or with the whole European Union:)))

114 aknelkaiser July 28, 2011 at 5:48 am


115 Perla Vzla July 28, 2011 at 6:35 am

Oh my gosh that is so cute!

116 sedacor July 28, 2011 at 6:39 am

nice tshirtss:)

117 bigger stronger smarter July 28, 2011 at 6:48 am

Great blog and great idea. Great read.

118 richannkur July 28, 2011 at 6:55 am


119 I Made You A Mixtape July 28, 2011 at 7:36 am

Oh, wow! these are super cute! Love the idea! Could use it for almost any motif! I would buy these!

120 thebigbookofdating July 28, 2011 at 8:57 am

Lol, these are soo cute and funny!

121 rubiescorner July 28, 2011 at 9:06 am

What a nice idea. The little guy will wear those T-shirts for a short time, but he will remember this. Sewing the design onto the T-shirt would be quite a feat.

122 papercuthearts July 28, 2011 at 10:12 am

This map enthusiast loves the idea! Thank you for breaking it down for us. Super fun!

123 Elizabeth (soimahomebody) July 28, 2011 at 10:47 am

Oh WONDERFUL! I know what I will be making for Christmas gifts this year!

124 gaycarboys July 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm

I wonder if this would work for the states of Australia! I’ll give it a go. I might even make some felt for the applique!

125 raaaaaaawr July 29, 2011 at 9:50 am

prettyyy πŸ˜€ would get tricky on countries with tons of broken up islands though ;p

126 Jey@tecnoupdates July 29, 2011 at 11:42 am

good post keep posting frnd thanks 4 sharing

127 brooklynbabyfashionista July 29, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Very creative and cute πŸ™‚

128 admin July 30, 2011 at 9:18 am

I enjoyed reading this post… Great report.

129 DanEastSided August 4, 2011 at 12:21 pm

This is too cool! They really do look vintage.

130 nakedcarlyart August 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Thanks for sharing! That is super fun.

131 realanonymousgirl2011 August 8, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Very Cute!

132 muzoo design- Laser cutting love August 14, 2011 at 11:34 am

Great site! I will be definiately coming back for a visit.

133 Jamar Parmenter November 4, 2011 at 1:14 pm

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134 Rachel April 28, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Hi! I have been experimenting with making some similar toddler tee’s. After washing, however, my felt frayed! Any suggestions for fixing this problem?

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