Onesie decorating that doesn't suck: a primer for baby shower planners

November 19 | Guest post by Joriel Foltz

Naomi's tshirt

When I suggested decorating baby onesies at my friends' Ariel and Andreas' baby shower, I wasn't surprised that there was some trepidation in my group of co-hosts. One friend gently suggested that maybe A&A didn't need 30 pieces of their guests' handiwork — "if it were me, I wouldn't want to feel obligated to dress my baby in puffy-paint shirts every day of the month."

It's true that not everyone is a natural artist. I've been to other onesie-decorating baby showers, and the results have often been disappointing. Even the process can be stressful if people don't feel like they know what they're doing. But as a long-time crafter, I have faith that anyone can make something adorable with the right tools and support.

As you can see from the pictures, our experience worked out beautifully. Guests had a great time and the onesies they created were cute as can be. Here's what I learned about helping a group of people of all ages and talents craft awesome onesies:

  • Provide a variety of onesie colors and sizes. Our party of about 40 people ended up decorating about 25 onesies and t-shirts in sizes from newborn to 18 months. You can spend as much or as little as you like on blank onesies. We really wanted to provide a lot of bright colors, because we know how much A&A love color, so we invested in a bulk order of colorful onesies. However, I also contributed a bunch of gently used onesies from my son's babyhood. If you know a few mamas, you should be able to gather up plenty of onesies without spending a cent. Remember that the decorations can cover minor stains and even small embellishments.
  • Brett's onesieMake decorating easy with templates and prepared "stick-on" fabric. With a product like Peel 'n Stick Fabric Fuse, you can peel off one side of backing from the sticky stuff and attach it to a variety of fabric rectangles. All people have to do is choose a prepared fabric, cut out a design, peel off the second side of backing, and stick it to the onesie.* Designs may be part of the fabric print (like the sock monkey pictured), traced templates (like those provided below or the many you can find with a quick internet search), or original creations.
  • Get the ball rolling with a list of slogan and image ideas. Most people didn't use them, but the list I provided of ideas like "Offbeat Baby™" and "Google Gaga" generated laughter, conversation, and brainstorming.

Dawn's onesie

  • Leave room for creativity. Keep decorating options open by providing a selection of inexpensive fabric markers, paints, and/or small iron-on letters. Pencils, pens, scrap fabric, and sketch paper are also useful so people can work out their ideas and get comfortable with the materials.
  • Organize the space. Keep supplies and activities organized by dividing a big work area into smaller workstations. Post simple instructions in each area. We had areas for fabric applique, freehand art, iron-on lettering, and practice.
  • Display the results. String up a clothesline and provide clothespins, so guests can show off their finished onesies.

Hope that was helpful! And now, as a special treat for the Offbeat Mama community, I give you FREE ONESIE DECORATING TEMPLATES:

Click to download the template PDF
Click to download the template PDF

Please note that I am not schilling for Peel 'n Stick fabric fuse. It's just something I found at the fabric store that worked for us. It's not a perfect solution. The applique is somewhat stiff, and you'll need to run the finished onesies through the dryer, according to product directions, to ensure the strongest bond. Over time, with washing and wearing, there will be some minor fraying and peeling around the edges of the appliques, but in my opinion this just increases the handmade appeal. There are plenty of other fabric fuse options available, such as Steam-A-Steam, which requires an iron, but which I find preferable for my own crafting. One other thing to note is that fabric appliques don't work as well on very thin lower-quality onesies.

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  1. totally awesome! we probably won't be having a shower, even though this is our first, but i may use this to decorate my own onesies. who needs a party to craft? ๐Ÿ™‚

    3 agree
  2. I made my nephew a few onesies before he was born using my printer and some iron-on transfers. My favorite one had a photo my husband and I took of ourselves making funny faces, which my sister loved!

  3. I admit it, I completely stole your idea. I had to – things were looking dismal for our shower. Having never been to one and ours was going to be a co-ed affair with a bunch of artsy punky gothy people, I couldn't picture my mohawked guy friend wanting to do any of the stupid activities I was finding online. We had resigned ourselves to a bleh get together (even if it was at a gay bar) with nothing to do but listen to music, eat and chat a bit. Then I saw Ariel's teaser of the pics

    Great suggestion on preparing the fabric ahead of time. I didn't think of that, it would have made things easier for my friends. Thanks for your other tips too, they're great and I'll have to keep them in mind for any future showers I might be involved in. ๐Ÿ˜€

    2 agree
  4. this is really useful – thank you!
    it was great to see the photos of what guests came up with. there were heaps os awesome ones!

  5. When I saw Ariel's post with the onesies I was so jealous! We had a onesie decorating table at our shower a few months ago (not our idea, the onesies) and I have to admit that NONE of the puffy-paint decorated onesies has ever been on our 3 month old.

    But THESE! Damn. Next shower I throw I'm doing these. And, like the PP, I think I might make some for my son myself…

    2 agree
  6. Brilliant! I loved all of them.

    Here's a suggestion for using fusible web so that your applique doesn't come out so stiff. Cut the fabric and web together and then cut out the center portion of the web, leaving a 1/4"-1/2" "frame" of fusible web. I use this trick when making applique quilts and it's especially handy when you're laying one applique over another — really cuts down on the stiffness.

  7. Glad to find there are good onesie decorating ideas out there!! I've done this before with the simple stencil, fabric paint and while they turn out OK it's more of something to do to avoid cheesy shower games ๐Ÿ™‚ I'm having a shower next Sat and definitely plan to use this technique along with the paint and stencils. Did you buy the fabric letters or did guests cut them out on their own?

    2 agree
  8. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I'm in charge of games for my sister's shower. I found everything that I needed at my local craft store. I made my first prototype to try it out and made newborn onesie lederhosen. They turned out awesome!!!

    1 agrees
  9. This is great! I have volunteered to do set-up and supplies at my own shower in 10 days. Where can I find multi-packs of brightly colored onesies? Preferably for less than $3 each?!?

    1 agrees
  10. Great tips! So excited to try this onesie and try to mix things up with my decorations.This gonna be lively baby shower for my baby!

    1 agrees
  11. I am completely content with "hosting" my own "shower." I say, "Hell!" to the naysayers for breaching party etiquette!

    My culture does not do "showers" besides the Buddhist monks blessing for when after a baby is born in which all members of the COMMUNITY come to spread their well-wishes and open their wallets.

    I want it to be a fun family gathering because my husband is really connected with the biking community in our city. I've grown close with the Bike Wifeys and we all like to have a good time and laugh. I don't want to scare them (i.e., the men) off with games and the other typical stuff. I plan to have a keg there, for all I know! Bikes + Beer = Big deal here

    I need help:
    1) How do you word in your invite that it's not a "baby shower" but rather a "family shower?"
    2) Is it still appropriate to list registry info even though I don't want to open the gifts there?
    3) FOR SPITS AND PICKLES – Our son's middle name will be Danger so any help with putting that on the invite wording would be AWESOME.

    Also, I am SO doing a onesie and bib decorating theme! I'll also have an advice station where guests can write baby/parenthood advice. Imagine this with a keg… SUCCESS.

  12. Hi there,

    I had my guests decorate onesies at a shower I hosted yesterday, and it was AWESOME! Thanks so much for the ideas and inspirations…it was a co-ed shower and the guests loved this activity.

    1 agrees
  13. I did this over the weekend at my shower and it was such a huge hit! I was dreading the shower at first, because I hate most baby shower games/activities, but this made it so fun and people keep commenting on how original it was. Thanks for the great tutorial!

  14. Oh. Em. Gee. I am currently gathering ideas for my baby shower and this looks totally way more fun than the many other stupid games I've heard of at baby showers (my own opinion, sorry mamas! I would still smile and be enthusiastic at your shower!)

    Invites conversation, mingling, laughter, and most of all…everyone puts a little love and creative spirit into something for your very own.

    I am considering registering for cash for my baby shower so this is a great thing to fill the time besides an hour of taking pictures with every gift!

  15. I can't wait to try this idea at my shower, but was curious where you ordered your bulk onesies. I probably will have around 40 guests too and dont want to spend $300 on onesies ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh, we are having a little guy so primary colors and non-princess colors are a plus!

    1 agrees
    • I can't speak for the OP, but after reading this post I did an exhaustive search for affordable but quality onesies to buy in bulk and ended up deciding on American Apparel onesies, which are sold on amazon.com on sale for $6.00 in select colors and sizes. There was enough of a selection that I was able to get 40 onesies at that price in 4 different sizes and 10 different (boy) colors. It's still a bit of an investment, but it's less than $300 and the onesies are of great quality.

      Hope that helps. Good luck!

  16. We did this at my baby shower and it was AWESOME. So much fun, everyone enjoyed it. Ended up with lots of cute onesies that I won't be embarrassed to put my little guy in. I would recommend creating lots of stencils of an assortment of animals and other objects (we had a boat and a car). You can buy as little as 1/8 yard of fabric at the fabric stores which is great b/c I had no fabric to start with and didn't want to spent too much on them. We're going to do it again for my sister's shower in 2 months. I got the american apparel onesies from Amazon.com. $6 each and lots to choose from. We did the iron transfer method and I can't say how well they hold up (yet), but they went onto the onesies beautifully.

  17. I know I'm a thousand years late to this party, but any suggestions on where to get the onesies? I'll scour the internet in the meantime.

    • Depending on your budget, try American Apparel onesies on amazon.com. See previous two comments for details.

  18. Love this idea but I am totally stumped on the wording to use on invitations… I want to mention it as I think everyone would like the heads up to start their creative juices flowing before they arrive.
    Can anyone suggest some simple yet creative ways to word this party idea on our invitations??

  19. Where would you recommend purchasing onesies in bulk? I'm helping my friend plan her baby shower and she is on a tight budget. We are also thinking of doing the same idea with bibs. Help!

  20. I was charged with hosting a baby shower for a friend and having never even been to one, I was slightly freaked out! This craft idea was an absolute winner. The mum to be was absolutely blown away and everyone got into it. Even the 10 year old was able to do this and created a really cute bib. That was a double win – our little mate got to be involved in a 'grown ups' activity and hold her own! It was such a wonderful day and honestly, having a craft activity that resulted in something the mother can use was fantastic. Another hint: we made baby bibs and ensured everyone signed the back of them – that way the mum to be will always know who made each design. PS, I am in Australia and the peel n stick fabric fuse is available at Spotlight if there are any other Australian readers wanting to try this. If I could include a photo here of the bibs we made, I'd do it. Some of them were really amazing! Many thanks for this post – it made our day.

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