A good way to make their new piece of clothing look much cuter is to add an applique to it. I'm still new at applique, but thought I would share how I recently updated 2 cheap tracksuit tops to look a little more kid friendly and more personalised. These can be great for a gift too.
You do not HAVE to sew to do this. Awesome.
I decided to use felt as my applique. It's strong and hardy, and you do not have to worry about it fraying too much. Bonus. You can also use fabric, but the edges will fray. That can be a cool look, just make sure you top stitch at the end.
Find an applique shape that suits the child you are embellishing the top for. I decided to not get too fussy with mine as I find simple usually looks best.
I chose this dinosaur from freeaplique.com and a some stars that I drew with the shape tools in Microsoft Publisher. You could use any similar program; you could even use the clip art in Word. Remember you will be cutting out the silhouette of the image, so it must be obvious by the silhouette what the object is, unless you are planning on getting fussy and adding heaps of detail.
Some ideas: dinosaurs, mermaids, stars, guitars, crocodiles, initial, robots, flower, hearts, bunnies, cars, tools, etc.
Next, print the applique pattern/shape and pin to felt. Cut to shape. Don't worry about being too exact, as you can trim later.
Take out pins. Trim any yucky edges to taste.
At this step, I like to pin my applique to the tracksuit top to see where is looks best. At first, the plan was to centre the images, but I like the look of them slightly off centre.
If you have the child handy, get them to try on the top so you can see how it will look when it is worn. If they are not around, just keep in mind where the clothes may look when worn. For example, if you want to put an image on one side, make sure it is not TOO far over or it may end up being half hidden from view, or under an armpit :)
If child is cooperating, you can move the felt shapes around to get them where they look good.
It's optional, but at this stage I chose to interface my felt. Felt is much stiffer than other fabrics so you could *possibly* miss this step. I decided I would go with it and try and preserve the appliques' shapes through the many envisioned washes in the future.
If you don't want to do this, sew shape to top. You're done.
Use some Wonder Under, Heat N Bond or similar double sided fusible (directions) and iron it to the felt shape. Trim paper so it doesn't show on the 'right' side (picture below pre trim).
If you're using double sided iron on interfacing, you can now peel the paper off and iron your shape in place on the top.
Optional: Topstitch around shape; it helps it last longer and just adds a nice finish. You can do this neatly or in a crazy, messy modern style. I like it a little crooked - a lot of kids clothes are being sold that way at the moment and I think it's cute.
If you're not using double sided fusible, pin interfaced shape to tracksuit top in place. CAREFULLY, sew around shape. You can use a zig zag, but a plain stitch looks fine.
Stitch around shape even when using double sided interfacing, if you can (warning, terrible picture below).
DONE. Easy as. Now take that kid to the park and show off the handmade goodness.
This is not just for kids, either. I can see some luuuuurverly adult tops being made the same way, perhaps with some layered flowers or scrolls. Hmm.
Cuteness on a stick. Or, on a kid.