January 16, 2012

T-shirt Quilt (mini Tutorial)

One more t-shirt quilt FINISHED!

I have been promising the hubs a t-shirt quilt for a good 5 years now.  Imagine his surprise on Christmas when I actually had it done!

Assuming you have a basic knowledge of quilting....here's how I use t-shirts to make a quilt the easy way:

1. I cut apart all the t-shirts I'd like to use.  If there is a small patch on the front or sleeve of the t-shirt I want to save, I will cut that out too, and applique it to one of the quilt blocks later.

2.  Based on the t-shirts, determine what size you want your blocks.  I prefer to make all the blocks the same size, so the quilt is easiest to put together.  Usually this means the blocks are 12 to 13 inch squares for adult size t-shirts.  I determine the size of the blocks by using the largest t-shirt image.  Sometimes you'll have to add a strip or two of fabric to a small shirt - no big deal.  They sew up quick and easily.

3.  Cut all the t-shirts into blocks.  Cut the same number of squares out of interfacing.  I get the Pellon interfacing you can get by the bolt (10 yards for $9.99 - or even cheaper with a coupon at JoAnn's).  It takes me the better part of a bolt to make one quilt.

4.  Iron the interfacing to the t-shirts.  USE A PILLOWCASE (or other piece of cotton fabric) BETWEEN THE IRON AND THE T-SHIRT or you will melt the printing on the t-shirt.  I learned that the hard way.  If you have any patches, iron interfacing onto the patch as well.

5. If you have any patches to sew onto the blocks, go ahead and do that now while they're all in pieces.  It's much easier than negotiating the whole quilt top.

6. Lay the blocks out and decide how you want the quilt to look.  I try to balance the light and dark blocks, but really - it's a memory quilt, so you can't go wrong.

7. Sew her up!  I use a normal needle.  The interfacing will help keep the blocks from stretching (dang knits!!!).  I sew the blocks into rows, then sew the rows together.

8. For my husband's quilt, I quilted it by sewing along the seam lines, then on either side.  I did that both horizontally and vertically, and used invisible thread on the top.  I also swear by my walking foot.

9. And since he's (obviously) a Virginia Tech Hokie, I used orange flannel as the backing.  I left it a bit larger than the quilt top, and folded it over the edge to bind it.  I did it ALL with the machine.  I really don't like quilting by hand at all, if I can help it!

I love how his quilt turned out!  Now if I'd only work on mine.  But really, when do we sew for ourselves???  Not often enough.


  1. I've always wondered how to put a t-shirt quilt together since knits can be a little tricky. I'm glad to know the secret is interfacing.

  2. Did you use any batting? I'm planning ahead and collecting Pete's tshirts for a Christmas present...

    1. It depends on how warm you want it! I don't use batting, but that's personal preferance. Between the t-shirts/interfacing and then whatever you use on the back, it's warm enough (especially for Texas). But essentially it's just a quilt so if you want it thick and warm, batting would be fine.

  3. I AM SOOO HAPPY TO SEE THIS! just checked on making a jake vest for my four year old little man. Now i just have to make this for my hubby (YAY, we're hokies too) for Christmas. He wouldnt let me throw out like ANY of his fraternity shirts buuutt they sit in the attic... now i can give them a new life:D

    1. Haha! Yes, Jessica, I can't stand having all these shirts sitting around! Good luck! I'd love to see another Hokie quilt whenever you get around to it.