Like so many during this unprecedented time, those of us here at The Factory have allowed our minds to rest and find joy in the simple act of making. We’ve been digging back into the archives and though all of our garments and projects are made slowly, we always like an easy project that works up quickly. Some of Natalie’s early t-shirt designs used a placement stencil on an already-made t-shirt. Working on a project like this allows you to practice your sewing skills and embroidery techniques before working on a garment’s construction.

The Abstract stencil was conceived of last year as a modern and graphic design with bold geometric shapes. We’ve taken a portion of the stencil and experimented with its scale to create an easy beginner sewing project. 

You can use any t-shirt you have on hand (the more loved, the better), fabric scrapsButton Craft Thread, and our special Abstract stencil, which can be downloaded here for free

Or use our Abstract T-Shirt Kit to make your own t-shirt as shown here. The kit includes The Love Tee—Alabama Chanin’s tailored and comfortable ringer t-shirt made of ultra-soft organic cotton, thread in the color of your choice, and a bag of our 100% organic cotton jersey scraps in assorted colors to use for your reverse appliqué. And the free digital download for the stencil that you can print at home

The Love Tee acts as the foundation for the appliqué of the modern and graphic Abstract design. To make your t-shirt, you’ll first need to print and cut your stencil artwork then transfer the design onto the t-shirt in the placement of your choice. We chose to place the stencil centered under the neckline. 

For our t-shirt project, we used textile paint, but you can use a fabric marker or permanent marker to outline the stencil.  

Our reverse applique technique begins with two layers of fabric (the t-shirt and the fabric scraps). The top layer (t-shirt) is stenciled and then stitched with Button Craft thread to the bottom layer (fabric scraps) by following the outline of the stenciled shapes. After stitching, we cut away the interior fabric within each shape to reveal the bottom fabric.  

Pair the kit with any of our Studio Books for design inspiration and sewing technique instruction (like reverse appliqué).  

Explore Abstract and all of the stencil designs The School of Making offers here.    


Top Layer – The Love Tee in White 
Bottom Layer – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey fabric scraps in assorted colors 
Button Craft Thread – Red 
Paint – Ecru 
Technique  – Reverse appliqué 
Stencil – Abstract Mini 
Knots – Outside  


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