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How to make DIY varsity letters

How to make DIY varsity lettersEver since I was a kid I’ve been craving a sweater or a jacket with my initial in varsity letters on it. But the sew-on letters that you can find in Sweden are always teeny-tiny and made for small children and not the sort of bold statement piece that I was looking for. Anyways, that dream has been on the back burner for quite some time now, but when I saw the monogrammed raglan sweater in Jenny Hellström’s sewing book Urban Collection I suddenly felt the urge to give this technique proper try.

I googled around to find some tutorials (see suggested links at the end of this post) but I struggled to find a method that exactly matched the look that I was going for, i.e. a fluffy fleece fabric and with decorative edge stitching, similar to this Tommy Hilfiger varsity jacket. 

It took four tries before I was happy (including cutting the first two letters on reverse!) and here is a tutorial on how I did it:

How to make DIY varsity letters

You’ll need

  • Two cut out letters using the Varsity font or something similar (I added some extra width to the bigger letter since I wanted more of the black fabric showing).
  • Black and white fleece
  • A firm fusible, like the Vlieseline H-250
  • Textile glue

How to make DIY varsity letters

1. Interface the fleece and trace the letters with a pen

Just make sure the letters will not end up on the reverse!

How to make DIY varsity letters

2. Cut out the letters using scissors or a sharpie knife

How to make DIY varsity letters

3. Glue the white letter to the black letter

Use textile glue or something similar. Apply only a small amount of it and then gently attach the white letter to the black one, trying to make it as even as possible.

How to make DIY varsity letters

4. Edgestitch the letter using a narrow zigzag stitch

I recommend doing samples before to make sure that: A. The stitch looks the way you want it and B. To find the right placement of the needle. The stitch should touch the black fabric but not much more. I used both the presser foot and the guides on the plate to make sure the stitch looked straight enough.

How to make DIY varsity letters

How to make DIY varsity letters

This is how the varsity letter looks after the first round of edgestitching. This is a good time to trim away any uneven lines, but don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect as the stitching will hide at least some of the irregularities.

How to make DIY varsity letters

5. Place the letter on the garment and measure carefully

Make absolutely sure it it will end where you want it as this kind of stitching is nearly impossible to remove. I used basting to keep the letter in place but I’m sure adhesive spray or even glue could work too, depending on fabric. Since the fabric I used was a woven I didn’t need any additional stabilization, but if I had applied the letter on a knit fabric, a tear-away or water soluble stabilizer would probably be necessary

How to make DIY varsity letters

6. Edgestitch the outer letter using

Using the same principles as for the inner letter

How to DIY varsity letters

Done! Did the letter turn out perfect? Nope, but I do think the method is solid – it’s just me who needs to get better with cutting straight lines!

Here are some other varsity letters tutorials that you might find useful:

Varsity Style DIY by Dream a little bigger

How to make a varsity jacket by With Wendy

Team shirts by Sounds like knock

1 Comment

  • John Yingling
    April 25, 2018 at 7:57 am

    Try using a fusible adhesive such a Heat and Bond to the back side of your letter, then heat fuse it to your jacket. That way your letter will stay in place as you zigzag around the edges.


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