Machine Drawn Paper Airplane Lovenote

Every year I make my kids something new to wear on Valentine’s Day.  Usually, I make t-shirts with some sort of heart/love theme.  I have silk screened, stenciled, appliqued, reverse appliqued, and stitched.  This year I have another thing to factor in, besides simply wanting to be original.  Harry, my 7 year old, is in a new school that is a little more traditional than the one he went to before (and the one my daughter went to for her entire elementary school years).  Gender stereotypes seem to be alive and well and he is feeling it.  He won’t wear his favorite purple ski jacket to school and you can forget about anything pink.  I am sad, for sure, and pissed off too, but we don’t let it rest around here and try to remind him of all the amazing boys he knows that wear whatever they want.  It’s the people with narrow minds that are limited in their lives and I don’t want him to be one of them. Of course this is a very small example of a much bigger issue, but he is 7, and this is one of the ways gender stereotyping affects him. With this new development in mind, I had to rethink my Valentine’s Day shirt.  I want him to wear it. Proudly.

So, I went to the thrift store and bought a  button down oxford for a Bar Mitzvah last weekend.   He didn’t end up wearing it, so I have made it much more fun.  I took something near and dear to Harry (paper airplanes) and something near and dear to me (machine drawing) and the 2 things fell in love and made this:

It is a love note folded into a paper airplane and sent to my wee boy.  I think he will love it.  I hope so.

Want to make one?  Here’s how:

What you’ll need:

– a shirt.  I chose a button down.  A tee would work too, but be sure to use stabilizer.

-iron-on tear away stabilizer

– a motif that suits you.  Hand draw one or find one on the web, there are millions.

– a sewing machine and colored thread to suit


1) I drew a paper airplane on a piece of paper and then pinned it to the backside of the part I would stitch it to and held it up to a window to trace.  I probably would just draw it in position directly next time.  The fabric does shift a little.

I added a little heart on the corner.

2) I ironed on a piece of fusible tear-away stabilizer to the backside of the design.  I don’t think it is really necessary with woven fabrics, but it definitely is with knits.

3) I used a nice contrasting navy blue thread and set my machine on a straight stretch stitch (the 2 forward, one back stitch).  It makes a nice solid line.  Because all of my lines are straight for this design, I kept full pressure on the foot and stopped and turned at the corners by leaving the needle in the fabric, lifting the foot, and then putting the foot back down when I was ready to go again.

4) Now it is time to stitch the heart.  I changed my thread to red, of course, and took all the pressure off my foot (set it to 0). I changed my stitch to a regular little straight stitch (mine was at stitch length 2) and sunk my needle where the two bumps of the heart met (you can start wherever you like, of course, it doesn’t matter).  When I stitch things with curvy shapes, I like to get my machine moving fast but I move the fabric very slowly.  When you take all the pressure off the presser foot, you can manipulate the fabric any way you want and at any speed.  I slowly followed the line I had drawn and then went around the shape of the heart a couple more times.  If this is a new technique for you, practice on some scrap fabric of equal weight first.  It takes a little practice but is great fun once you get the hang of it.  MOVE SLOWLY! Don’t be shy of putting the pedal to the metal, however.

I decided to add some movement lines to make the plane do a loop-the-loop. I forgot to put pressure back on my presser foot so some of the lines are less than perfect.  Good thing I don’t care.

This entry was posted by nicoleblum.

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