/ / / Puffy Paint Sweatshirt with No-Sew Fabric Appliqué

Puffy Paint Sweatshirt with No-Sew Fabric Appliqué

Christmas | DIY Project

Create a fun and retro puffy paint sweatshirt for the holidays with no-sew fabric appliqué! Learn how to appliqué using dimensional fabric paint!

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12 Days of Holiday Crafts by Crafting Cheerfully

A child's green sweatshirt with a deer appliqué on it lays next to a napkin with the same deer on it. They lay on a white wooden table next to bottles of puffy paint.It’s the fourth day of my series “12 Days of Holiday Crafts” and today I’m throwing it back with a craft project straight from my childhood – a puffy paint sweatshirt with fabric appliqué! If you too grew up in the ’90s, maybe you also had a wide assortment of puffy paint sweatshirts. Since I have such sweet memories of these sweatshirts at Christmastime, I decided it would be fun to make my daughter her own puffy paint appliqué sweatshirt for the holidays!

Back in the ’90s, my mom made my sister and I matching sweatshirts using the no-sew fabric appliqués by Daisy Kingdom. Kittens doing ballet and bears dressed for the holidays all perfectly outlined with Tulip puffy paint – also known as dimensional fabric paint. Many of these Daisy Kingdom appliqués can still be purchased on eBay and vintage sites. I still have a few from my mom’s craft stash!

A child's green sweatshirts lays on a white wooden table with a holiday deer appliqué applied with dimensional fabric paint.

If appliqué is new to you, it is simply the act of applying one smaller piece of fabric to a larger piece, usually to create a fun design or pattern. Oftentimes, you use a fusible interfacing to hold the fabrics together and then permanently stitch them. This can be done on the sewing machine or stitched by hand. While appliqué is traditionally needlework, you can also use dimensional puffy paint for a no-sew version of appliqué! The puffy paint, just like thread, covers the raw edges of the top design, preventing it from fraying and holding everything together.

For my daughter’s sweatshirt, I decided to appliqué a cute holiday deer I found on a napkin designed by Urban Chicks for Moda. The entire fabric collection, Deer Christmas, is so sweet! The deer on the cloth napkin was the perfect size to appliqué on a child’s sweatshirt and it was so fun to outline with puffy paint. The napkin is printed with two deer, so I actually have one left!

A child's green sweatshirt with deer appliqué lays next to a cloth napkin with the same deer on it.

Below is a tutorial for how to make your own puffy paint sweatshirt with fabric appliqué. While I chose to use the sweet deer and make this sweatshirt for Christmas, you could follow these same directions to appliqué any fabric design for any time of year! 

How to Make a Puffy Paint Sweatshirt with Fabric Appliqué

Supplies Needed:

  • Fabric applique – This can be a design from fabric yardage, a vintage appliqué, or something like my sweet deer from a cloth napkin! The napkin I used is “Deer Christmas” by Urban Chicks for Moda and it comes with two deer printed on opposite corners.
  • Sweatshirt – wash it before starting the project
  • Fusible interfacing – I used Wonder Under Fusible Web
  • Iron
  • Tulip Dimensional Fabric Paint in coordinating colors. I used this pack plus a bottle of Brown Tulip Dimensional Paint.

Supplies needed for sweatshirt project lay on a white table including a green sweatshirt, puffy paint, cloth napkin and fusible interfacing.

Bottles of dimensional fabric paint are lined up on a white table.

Step by Step Tutorial

Step One: Start by cutting a piece of fusible web interfacing that is large enough to cover the fabric design you will be appliquéing. Iron it to the wrong side of the fabric appliqué.

Fabric napkin with fusible interfacing ironed on to it.

Step Two: Once the fabric has cooled, carefully cut out the appliqué design with a small fabric scissors.

Fabric napkin with a deer printed on it laying next to a fabric scissors on a white table.

A fabric deer is fussy cut using a small sewing scissors. They both lay on a white surface.

Step Three: Peel the paper backing off of the appliqué and place it on a pre-washed sweatshirt. For my sweatshirt, I centered the deer appliqué and used a ruler to help me. Once the design is in place, iron it to the sweatshirt. Let the fabric cool.

A ruler is used to center the deer applique onto a green sweatshirt.

A child's green sweatshirts lays on a white wooden table with a holiday deer appliqué applied with dimensional fabric paint.

Step Four: Use dimensional fabric paint to trace around the appliqué along the raw edge. I definitely suggest practicing a bit and getting a feel for the fabric paint. Make sure you shake the bottle well before using it.

A practice napkin lays on a table with squiggly lines painted in puffy paint.

When you are ready to paint the actual project, go slow and take your time! You will want to wait until one color dries before going on to the next to avoid the paint bleeding together.

A child's green sweatshirts lays on a white wooden table with a holiday deer appliqué applied with dimensional fabric paint.

If you happen to make a mistake, you may be able to wash it off or use a toothpick to remove the paint. I accidentally used brown paint along the front of the deer’s neck. While the brown paint was still wet, I slowly picked it up in small sections with a toothpick and wiped it on a paper towel. Once any leftover brown paint was dry, I was able to go back over it with white paint and you can’t even tell! 

Let the design dry for 72 hours and the sweatshirt is finished! This was so fun to make and a fairy quick project. Tracing the design with puffy paint is the trickiest part, but the more you practice, the better you will be at it. It takes a steady hand, and going slow is the key! I wash the sweatshirt inside-out with cold water and lay it flat to dry. 

A child's green sweatshirts lays on a white wooden table with a holiday deer appliqué applied with dimensional fabric paint.

Have you seen any fabric designs that would make great appliqué projects? After doing this, I find I’m looking at fabric a little differently :) My daughter loves her new deer sweatshirt. Paired with holiday leggings, she has the best retro look for Christmas festivities! 

A child's green sweatshirt with a deer appliqué on it lays next to a napkin with the same deer on it. They lay on a white wooden table next to bottles of puffy paint.

If you love appliqué, here are a few more fun appliqué projects! 

Happy Crafting! -Kim

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