DIY: How to make a t-shirt quilt

T-shirt quilts have become a popular way of repurposing old clothes. It is space-saving and useful. I’ll admit, I have several t-shirts left over from my college days that I rarely wear. Can you imagine how much more space you would have if your college t-shirts were not in your drawers? Wouldn’t a blanket that you use frequently be way more practical?

How about those super adorable baby clothes your kid has outgrown? Or do you collect t-shirts from the places you visit on vacation? Teachers who get t-shirts for every field day, school play, or fundraiser get overrun with them. Believe me.

When my friend asked me to make her a t-shirt quilt, I’ll admit I was pretty intimidated. But in the end, it wasn’t difficult, it just took time. Now you can make a t-shirt quilt, too! Ready?

First, gather the t-shirts and decide if you want all squares to be the same size or different. This depends on what you like, but also the average size of all the designs on the shirts and how many shirts there are. For example, the first quilt I made had 16 shirts; the one I am currently making has about 40. That 16-shirt quilt had all the same size squares. This 40-shirt one has a variety of sizes.

Second, if you are doing all the same size, measure and cut out each shirt. If you are doing different sizes, I would suggest folding them and laying them out to get an idea of what fits where. Then you can measure how big each piece should be. To cut, lay the shirt out flat and use a yardstick and a pen (or white colored pencil on a black shirt) to mark where to cut. I try to cut at least 1-1 1/2 inches from the pattern for seam allowances. I eyeballed it most of the time, but shirts like this one that have straight lines make it easier.


Then comes the boring part- ironing on the interfacing. It is boring, but super important. Don’t skip it! Because t-shirts are knit, they pull in weird ways and the edges curl a bit after it’s been cut out. The interfacing makes it stiffer and more sturdy overall. You wouldn’t want all those memory t-shirts falling apart. Did I mention how important it is? I use Pellon fusible interfacing. Cut the interfacing to be the same size as the shirt piece, stack shirt (pattern down)-interfacing-old sheet or similar. Spray with water really well, and iron a small section for 15-20 seconds, pushing down. Repeat forever. After the squares cooled, I had to go back over some of them, depending on how well it stuck the first time.

Whew, finally! Lay all the pieces out in the order you want them to go, and sew them together like any other quilt. After ironing on the interfacing, a couple of the thinner shirts had stretched a little. That’s okay, just cut them so they are square/rectangular again.

To finish the quilt, you can quilt it or tie the corners of each square with yarn or embroidery floss. It is important to do this to keep all the layers together. Because after all, you will love your quilt so much you’ll have to wash it a few times!

Good luck!



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