Wednesday, April 8, 2015

T-shirt Quilt

If you're a quilter, it's only a matter of time before you are asked to make a t-shirt quilt. I was apprehensive at first to make one, working with stretchy t-shirt fabric scared me. It scares me about as much as backing a quilt with minky fabric. I had nightmares about a stretchy, bungled mess. But I did my research, gosh I love google.... and I made my first t-shirt quilt several years ago. I just finished making another one last weekend. T-shirt quilts make wonderful graduation gifts.  Let me share with you how I made a t-shirt quilt.... You will need the following items, (this is what I gathered to make one);

20 or so t-shirts (you may want to piece more than one shirt together to form the block)

8 yards fabric for sashing, borders and backing
1 yard contrasting fabric for contrast corner blocks and binding

7 yards iron on interfacing
rotary cutter & cutting mat
12 1/2" square quilting ruler
sewing machine.... etc.etc.

Now before you even begin... have all your shirts picked out and ready to go, wash them etc. The hardest part of this whole project is picking out your shirts and cutting them apart. This is where you need to be fearless. Have your iron ready... I cut my interfacing into 14" squares.... I don't have pictures of this process but I think you'll understand what I'm doing. Now, remember I said you need to be fearless, it's time for the HARD part, cutting the t-shirt. I cut the shirt down the sides, then across the 'top'. My t-shirt fabric piece looks like a 'one' sided shirt. I then put it face down onto the ironing board and iron it lightly, then I iron on the interfacing to the back side. Let the shirt cool before you move it over to your cutting board. Remember, be fearless when cutting... it's okay to cut the shirt apart. Another thing to think about is, some t-shirts might have a cool design on the back too and you might want to use that also....

I then center my 12 1/2" Square on the t-shirt 'fabric' and
then cut around the square forming a 12 1/2" block. Large
designs are fabulous for 12 1/2" blocks.
If your design is small or narrow, you might want to
piece the two designs together and then cut your 12 1/2" block.
In this block I used 'shirts' from the gal's childhood.
Tweety bird is actually from an infant romper!
I just pieced the items together until I had a big enough section
to cut my 12 1/2" block.
Remember, you can think outside the box on this project.
This quilt has a hanky from Grandma....
and here is Grandpa's shirt....
Keep making blocks until you have 20 - 12 1/2" blocks.
I then sew the blocks together with sashing.
The sashing is 3" x 12 1/2"rectangle... there are also 3" 'corner' blocks
To sew your blocks together you will need 12 - 3" squares from your contrasting fabric.
From you sashing fabric you will  need 31 - 3" x 12 1/2" rectangles

Now it's time to add your borders. I cut 8 - 6" x wof strips and
sewed them end to end for the border sections. 
After you finish the quilt top, using what fabric you have left for the backing, piece the backing to have a big enough section. Then layer it with you batting and quilt top. It's time to have fun and do the quilting. I quilted in the ditch for most of the quilt and lightly quilted the t-shirt squares. Even with the interfacing the t-shirt material does shift a bit, so go slow.

From your binding fabric, cut 8 2 1/2" strips for the binding.
Sew them end to end and then iron in 'half' lengthwise.
Sew your binding onto your t-shirt quilt. Using a 1/4" seam.
Hand sew your binding, this is a great 'in front of the tv' project.
When I was done with the quilt, I had enough fabric to make a matching pillowcase. I used a handy dandy burrito style pattern. I hope that you have a chance to make a t-shirt quilt, they make wonderful graduation gifts. I know cutting apart usable clothing is hard, but's it's certainly worth it for the quilt that you will get in the end. The hard part is prying those t-shirts from your loved one's hands, or sneaking them out of their drawers without them noticing! 

Happy quilting!


  1. Great tutorial...I'm making another one right now...this one is king size and I am a bit eart of the weight for quilting. But it will come together. I ve done several of these...and am always concerned since they are someone else's t

  2. Like you, I was researching like crazy the first time, but it turned out great. They make wonderful gifts. Great tutorial!

  3. This is wonderful!!! Such good memories all pieced together...Barney especially made me smile! My daughter use to kiss the TV whenever he came on!!

  4. Good tut! I've made countless t-shirt quilts. I noticed you quilted around the design on the t-shirt.... I think that's what I'm seeing. I just quilted an edge to edge, right over the design on the t-shirt. It worked great.

  5. I haven’t made one yet, but I’m planning on it! I was wanting to make some for my two older grandsons, but they wore theirs out literally! And one of them stayed nearly the same size for so long that he just kept wearing them forever! Lol! But I have two younger grandsons that seem to have plenty of them! So it won’t be long! Thanks so much for the tutorial! I hadn’t realized that you would have to use so much interfacing! Had never thought it through that far! But I’m sure it would be impossible without it! Thanks again!