A DIY Onesie Tutorial: Binary Style

A DIY Onesie Tutorial: Binary Style

01010111 01101000 01111001 (Why?)

I was trying to come up with a Christmas present for my husband from my newborn son and it came to me…matching t-shirts! How cute would that be and it was something I knew I could make. Winner! After doing a lot of searching for shirt ideas, I still didn’t have anything that fit the two of them. My husband is a computer engineer and I knew I wanted something computer related. So I scoured the recesses of my brain and remembered a date Jon and I had where he tried to teach me binary (special computer code made entirely of zeros and ones)…emphasis on tried. Well, that lesson became the spark this present needed. I decided to make a shirt for Jon that spelled DAD and a onesie for our little guy that spelled out son…in binary. Would everyone get it? Nope, but my husband would and that’s all that mattered.

01001000 01101111 01110111 (How?)

How does one make such a present you might wonder? I’m sure most of you have heard of the magic cutting machine known as the Silhouette Cameo. If you haven’t, you must check it out. It cuts vinyl, paper, fabric, and even draws. I have the Cameo 2, but now they have the Cameo 3, which has even more bells and whistles. You do all the designing on the computer (or use someone else’s design) and then send that info over to the Silhouette and voila! You have your precision cut project before you! I’ve had my Silhouette for over a year now and I absolutely love it and have made some really fun things with it. This was my first shirt attempt though. I had some heat transfer vinyl that I had been itching to use and this was the perfect opportunity.

If you’re new to the Silhouette or have never seen the process in action, I’ve tried to make the steps as easy as possible with lots of pictures. Silhouette recently updated their software and the interface is totally different from what I was familiar with so this project was a good way for me to work through all the changes.

When you open up Silhouette Studio, this is what greets you…a blank canvas. This blank canvas represents the cutting mat. The cutting mats are 12×12” or 12×24” and have a sticky surface for holding whatever you plan on cutting…in this case heat transfer vinyl.

The cutting mats show a grid of 1×1” squares to help you measure things. I like that grid to show up on my work space as well. You can select to what degree you want the grid to be revealed on the right.

Now let’s work our way through my project. To add text, I clicked the A on the left and then clicked somewhere on the mat to begin typing.

I googled how to “spell” son in binary and hoped it was right. (It turns out I made a mistake on the first onesie, which my husband caught…of course…and thus the reason for this project. I had to redo the onesie.) For design reasons, I chose to stack the “letters” on top of each other.

Next, I played with the font which, besides the cutting, is my favorite part. Not all fonts are created equal in the Silhouette world. Some of them just don’t work. There are two ways to change the font. You can click on the scroll down menu at the top of the page as shown below or you can click on the A that is on the far right and a screen with the same menu will replace the page setup window. Either option will let you scroll through fonts and watch your text change as you go.

I finally settled on Rockwell. The numbers were thick enough and had a good mathematical feel to them. Next I changed the size of the font. I had previously measured the area of the onesie that I wanted the text to fit in. This is where the grid comes in very handy. I dragged the text box to the corner and selected and dragged the lower right corner in to shrink it to my preferred size…in my case roughly 4.5×3.5”.

At this point we could start cutting and I almost did until I remembered that this was not ordinary vinyl and unless I wanted it to appear backwards on the onesie, I would have to create a mirror image of my text. I did that by going to Object<Mirror<Flip Horizontally.

Once my text was flipped, it was cutting time. Up at the top of the window you can see we were in the Design tab. To send this text to the Silhouette we need to be in the Send tab. When that is open the text that will be cut is now bold. You choose the material, action, and tool that you will use. Now with this new software, as soon as I put my material as heat transfer, it reminded me that my image needed to be mirrored and asked if it should automatically do that for me. I could have saved myself some time had I known it was going to do that for me! Next time!


So you can see the toolbar that pops up has a dial, speed, force, and passes, which are the ratchet blade settings. The ratchet blade is the tiny knife that does all the cutting magic. The dial is for how deep the blade will cut, the speed for how fast it will cut, and the force for how hard it will press. The settings change based on material and in my case with vinyl you don’t need very high settings because it’s so thin.

Now that the computer portion was complete, I was ready to actually cut and create the onesie. I measured out a piece of the vinyl that would cover the desired space on the onesie and placed it shiny side down in the corner on the cutting mat. (Sidenote- My husband got me these generic cutting mats that come in a 3 pack. They are just as good as the brand name ones, but a lot more reasonably priced.)


I loaded the cut mat and then set my ratchet blade to 3. Now above you will notice that it directs you to set it to 2, but I knew my blade was on the dull side, so I bumped it to level 3.


After everything was loaded, I ran a test to make sure the cut settings would work. When you run a test cut, it cuts a triangle inside a square in the upper right hand corner. (You can see my vinyl was a little off…oops!) The test cut was successful so I sent the normal file and voila! I had my precision cut transfer!


Now this next part was a little tricky since these numbers were small and thin, but I successfully peeled off the layer of extra vinyl around the numbers and inside the zeros. Ta-da! I prepped my onesie with a little heat per the instructions.


Then I placed the numbers sticky side down on the onesie. Now my husband would have measured it to get it centered, but I’m an eyeballer. (Is that a word?) It turned out just fine. The instructions said to place thin material between the iron and vinyl so I chose a tea towel. The iron had to be on the highest setting and could not have steam. Then I pressed and rubbed for a few minutes on the front side and then repeated on the backside.


Once it was all cooled down, I carefully removed the plastic protective layer. There were a couple spots that didn’t seem to be sticking as well, so I put the towel back over it and ran the iron over it again for a few seconds and they stuck just fine after that.

And there you have it…a nerdy onesie from son to father! I also made the matching t-shirt for my husband using the same process, but the numbers were obviously much bigger. My husband loved it and now we’re planning to do a father son photo shoot! I can’t wait! Let us know what fun Silhouette projects you’ve done!






One Response

  1. Kathy Johnson says:

    This is amazing! Very thorough!

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