3 (or unlimited!) amazing easy ways to embellish a grey sweatshirt

I've been excited about this post for a while so I'm stoked I've finally completed my three sweatshirt embellishments and gotten photos in the daylight! ;) This post was born from 1) my love of grey heather everything and 2) the fashion world's approval of sweatshirts for trendy/everyday wear. Isn't it nice when things combine like that?

In short, sparkly and fun (mostly grey) sweatshirts are everywhere these days and we now have permission to wear them out of the house. This is good not only because they are comfy, but because, with the extra sparkle and interest, my accessorizing skills are not called into question as readily as if I tried to make a plain sweatshirt look fashionable. (Some people can pull it off, for sure, but but I guess because I'm not the world's most glam accessorizer, I feel a little plain in just a grey sweatshirt.)

So here's the Cliff's Notes of embellished sweatshirt ideas I collected while documenting the trend for this post. Love!!

Source: J.Crew, Anthropologie, The Glitter Guide, J.Crew Factory, Abercrombie & Fitch, Old Navy, Marc Marc Jacobs, Gap, Threads for Thought

It's also so funny to me that, for the past 4 years of blogging and doing simple DIY projects on knits, I'm
still inspired by J.Crew and Anthro. My style has changed, but so has theirs!

And in the recent blogging world, I'm not alone in loving these--trust me or see my recent Cute Clothes board pins. Also blogged out there, Mindy has cute J.Crew ones--this one, dressed up...
Source: The Mindy Project Style

And this one she wears in for her "workout outfit."
Source: The Mindy Project Style

Inspired yet?! Let's get crafty!!

Unlimited Sweatshirt Embellishment Ideas


I used three cheap Old Navy sweatshirts for this. They were on sale after Christmas for literally just over $4 each, and I really liked them, so I figured I'd better stock up. Perfect for expressing myself with some craftiness!

I used three methods on these:

  • Lettering
  • Contrast fabric overlay
  • Sequin braid trim

But you can seriously do anything to a grey or plain sweatshirt, and it will probably be cool. Did you see that tiny slice of ideas in the collage above??! ;) Seriously, do anything to one and you'll probably like it. Other embellishment tools and ideas you may want to pull out:
  • Fabric paint
  • Stencils
  • Stamp
  • Spray adhesive (to keep things in place while you sew, not as a replacement for sewing unless you're never going to wash your sweatshirt!)
  • Lace fabric
  • Lace trim
  • Tiny appliqués of ribbon or braid trim (bow shapes? rosettes? beaded things?)
  • Glitter anything

Here are my methods:

1. Lettering.


My sweet friend Jessie has a Silhouette machine and had this super cool black/silver glitter transfer stuff, so I got to use her machine and pick a font and size and print it onto the transfer. I ironed it for ages and now it's as stuck on there as any mass-produced t-shirt design!

They also make pretty cute black, white, and glitter letters you can find at the craft store. I've used those before (way back to Craft Night '04!) with great results.

I went with "Weekend" instead of something longer like the "Crème de la crème" or "Heart and soul" or "Retail therapy" ones that have been mass-produced this year. But any saying works! Just make sure you center it in the center of the sweatshirt.

2. Fabric overlays and appliqués. 


These raglan sleeve (baseball tee cut) sweatshirts are perfect for the contrast fabric panel--if you were designing them, you might give them a faux leather or semi-sheer fabric panel. But you can add a panel of any contrasting fabric to a sweatshirt like I did very easily!

I wanted to use a sparkly sweater I have instead of flat fabric, but then decided not to cut it up. Sparkly fabric or lace would be great on this!! I used a striped knit, and laid it out over the sweatshirt to cut the approximate size. I found the centers and made sure it was symmetrical. Then I sprayed spray adhesive (very carefully!!) on part of the sweatshirt and laid down the fabric overlay. Then I cut off most of the excess, leaving 1/4" or so to turn under. I turned it under at all the edges and pinned it in place; then I zigzagged all around the edges with my walking foot on. You can hardly tell it's not original to the sweatshirt!!

3. Sequin braid trim. Or any braid trim. Or sequins or sparkles in any form.


Sequin appliqués would also be great for this!! I applied this sequin braid trim with a light line of fabric glue pen glue, then hand-stitched it down to reinforce it. Excellent TV sewing activity, BTW. Think of the cool patterns you could do with sparkly braid trim!

So here's my sweatshirts, and the embellishments they got...

So cozy! I'm ready to enjoy them while we still have sweatshirt weather left!

What are your favorite embellishments for tees and sweatshirts and what should I try next time?!?

P.S. If you try any of the ideas in this list or think of your own, I'd love to see what you come up with, and I'm sure other readers would, too! Email me a photo or share it on my Facebook page!

10 comments

  1. those are pretty awesome! I think I need to join the lux sweatshirt trend.

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  2. They turned out so cool!! I LOVE the gold trim.

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  3. I love the sweatshirt on the bottom, second from the left on your inspiration board. Where is that sweatshirt from??

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  4. They turned out great! Love them all, especially the ragaln fabric overlay idea which can work for guys sweatshirts!

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  5. These are very cool. I made a fancy sweatshirt recently with lace. It was so easy and turned out great. http://refashionco-op.blogspot.com/2013/11/luxe-sweatshirt.html

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  6. Thanks!! And thanks for use of your awesome machine!

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  7. Hm, don't remember but I'll check when I get home and look at the files!

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  8. I love the sequined sweatshirts- it's a wonderful mix of so comfy casual and glamorous with all the shiny! Agree that I would love to hear where you found the inspiration sweatshirts!

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  9. It's from Threads for Thought but it's ancient. I think I got the image here: http://www.theglasscloset.com/2010/11/two-sided.html

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