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Volume 104 Subtle Tees – Leaf Lesson Part 2 of 2 – Spray Paint

Leaves! by Denise Holguin

If you’re a Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine reader, then you’ll enjoy this expanded coverage of the Subtle Tees project featured in Volume 104 May/June 2017.


Embroidery & Spray Paint

I used a Baby Lock Alliance and Snap Hoop Monster for the embroidery process.  You can use a standard single needle or a multi-needle machine, applying the same techniques.

Everyone has their favorite techniques for finding and marking the center of a shirt.  I like to fold the garment in half then I place Painter’s Tape along the fold line.  I have found ironing a crease to mark the center ineffective.  The crease isn’t as noticeable as bright blue tape!

Place the template on the shirt, aligning the top arrow with the edge of the Painter’s Tape.

Place a Target Sticker on the garment, underneath the center of the template.

I used a water soluble mesh stabilizer when hooping this tissue-weight garment.

Attach the hoop to the embroidery machine.

The Baby Lock Alliance has a handy laser you can use to align the design properly.  Move the design on the embroidery machine screen until the laser aligns with the target sticker.

Peel back the Painter’s Tape and target sticker.

Stitch the design.

Spray Paint!

Place the garment on a cardboard t-shirt frame.  Audition the stencil on the embroidered frame.

Mask the stencil and cover the surrounding t-shirt with wax paper to avoid overspray.

Spray the garment with brown spray paint.  I added a spritz of silver spray paint for a subtle sparkle effect.

Remove the tape, stencil and wax paper to reveal the spray painted leaf.

The final step—I added a button to each corner of the embroidery design.  The detail and dimension finish the look.

Come back on Saturday, May 20, 2017 for the lesson on how to create the leaf border. In the meantime, gather your supplies and get ready to make your own Subtle Tee!





  • Nancy

    Tried this trick last year and well made a mess, did a tree on a onesie, the wax paper is the key to this. Never gave this a thought.
    Well, now know how to conquer this now.

  • Nancy

    Thank you for this tip last year tried putting a tree on a onesie and well the spray even though tried to be careful got on the shirt. Thanks for this answer to this

    • Denise Holguin

      Hi Nancy,
      Glad I could help! I chose the wax paper mainly because I had it readily available and it’s not expensive. (One time I ran out and tried foil… that did not work so well!)

      I have also been toying with the idea of masking with cardboard but haven’t tried it yet.

      I wonder if you can salvage the onesie? Maybe add more paint? Or cut it up and use as applique fabric!


  • Gail Beam

    Looks like a really neat project! Thanks for the technique!

    • Denise Holguin

      Thank you, Gail. I am addicted to making t-shirts! Seems like I wear a new one each day to work!


  • Heather

    Please advise if this is a special fabric paint?

    • Denise Holguin

      Hi Heather,
      Yes, it’s Tulip ColorShot Instant Fabric Color spray paint. They come in two sizes – go ahead and go with the full size. You’ll have so much fun with them! You can find them at most craft stores.

      Here’s another blog featuring the paint.


  • Davie

    Tell me about the monster hoop for the Alliance/Brother Personna

    • Denise Holguin

      Hi Davie,
      Thank you for asking!

      The Snap Hoop Monster comes with two main components: a flat metal frame and a magnetic frame. Since the unit is flat, it’s easy to hoop/rehoop and straighten the fabric or item you are embroidering.

      When I first started using the Alliance, I used a traditional hoop with for one of my t-shirts. The t-shirt turned out wonderful– except there was hoop burn. Once I made the switch to the Snap Hoop Monster for my t-shirts, the results have been positive.

      I’ve updated our website with more images for you to see how the product works.

      If you have questions, please give us a call: 888-739-0555.

      Thanks again for asking about the product. And thank you for reading the blog!



    I, too, would like to know specifics on paint used, please

    • Denise Holguin

      Hi Bev,
      Thank you for the interest! The product is: Tulip ColorShot Instant Fabric Color spray paint. You can find it at most craft stores.

      They come in a variety of colors.


  • Joanne Banko

    Hi Denise! I really like the color combination you used for the whole design. It has an earthy look but is just bright enough to stand out and say hey . . . “look at me!” I enjoy painting and stenciling on fabrics too. Your creations are always inspiring!!!

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