T-Shirt Quilts; A Labor of Love


This is the presentation from Dawn Schaben’s  February 2019 program on T-shirt quilts.

How many t-shirts do I need to make a t-shirt quilt?

  • 12 t-shirts: throw approximately 48 x 64
  • 20 t-shirts: twin size quilt approximately 64 x 82
  • 30 t-shirts: full size quilt approximately 82 x 96
  • 36 t-shirts: queen size quilt approximately 96 x 96
  • 42 t-shirts: king size quilt approximately 110 x 96

These measurements include 1.5 inch sashing and 2 inch border with each t-shirt block being about 14.5 inches.

5 Typical styles of T-shirt Quilts

  • Traditional Block Style with Sashing
  • Traditional Block Style without Sashing
  • Unequal Rows or Columns
  • The Too Cool Style also known as: Variable or Puzzle Styles
  • Crazy Quilt Style

Details to look for in a T-Shirt Quilt

  • Using interfacing or not
  • Blocks Fit the Designs on the T-shirts
  • Designs Are Centered on the Block
  • No Part of the Design on the T-Shirt is Cut Off
  • The Blocks are all different sizes
  • No Rows and Columns

Ways to Mess Up Your Quilt

  • Using cheap fabric and materials to make your quilt.
  • Using 100% polyester batting
  • All the blocks are the same color
  • No thought put into layout

Layout Design Ideas

  • Shadow Box
  • Patchwork
  • Leave On collars, pockets, patches
  • Incorporate Photos – graduation quilts
  • Turn the Blocks on Point – more challenging
  • Use Quilt Patterns Designed for Large Blocks

What do I need to make a t-shirt quilt?

  • T-shirts
  • Interfacing
  • Material for sashing or blocks (pre-washed)
  • Material for backing (pre-washed)
  • Batting
    • Polyester – pros and cons
    • Cotton – pros and cons

Sorting the T-Shirts

  • Sort by color
  • Do you have enough for more than 1 quilt
  • Remove stained shirts
  • Remove shirts with holes
  • Do you have a theme?
    • Sport
    • Activity
    • Organization

Preparing your t-shirts

  • Wash and dry – do not use softener – interfacing will not stick to the t-shirt
  • Cut up the t-shirt
    • Front, back, sleeves
    • Cut the pieces larger than you want for the actual blocks
    • Make sure you cut off neck edges and seams (don’t want that extra bulk in seams)
  • Fusible interfacing
  • After you have applied the fusible interfacing, trim the shirt down to the desired size – do not cut off any of the design and remember to leave seam allowance

Interfacing /Stabilizer

  •  Knit or woven
    • Pellon SF101 Shape-Flex  – Iron-on Woven (great if you are using t-shirts with lots of wear)
    • Bosal 312 – light-weight not woven
    • Pellon Quilters Grid 820 – non-woven
    • Attached Mistyfuse
    • Pellon 906F Fusible
    • June Tailor T-Shirt Interfacing
  • White or Black based on color of t-shirt
  • Follow the manufacturers instructions for the fusing!! IMPORTANT!!
  • Weight of stabilizer – don’t use a heavy stabilizer as it will add weight and take away the drape and the comfort  feel of the quilt.
  • Don’t piece interfacing – it will show through in the finished quilt
  • Benefits of stablizer – blocks that are easier to work with and give you a better finished product, especially during the quilting process.

Design Ideas

  • Sashing or No Sashing
    • I personally recommend sashing as it gives the quilt stability and helps with the stretch issues that can occur when you sew t-shirt to t-shirt.
    • Sashing can also provide an overall look that pulls together all the different colors in the t-shirts.
  • Don’t have to use traditional blocks with sashing. Try something different.
  • Who says that all the blocks have to be squares and rectangles? Take this T-shirt quilt idea for a spin, by piecing striped, checkered and zig-zag sashing to make your shirt blocks really pop!


One thought on “T-Shirt Quilts; A Labor of Love

  1. Thanks for adding this info about making tee shirt quilts. I would like to mention that Mistyfuse is a fusible web product, not an interfacing or a stabilizer!

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