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How to Make a Tshirt Quilt

T-shirt quilts are so fun and full of memories. Each one is so different depending on how many shirts, the layout, even the shirts themselves.

Today I will share with you how I make t-shirt quilts!

First, I evaluate each shirt. I decide what needs to be saved, and what can be thrown away. Maybe it is just a big print on the back, or maybe it is the logo on the front pocket. Maybe it is both. While I do this, I measure each area to see how big of a square is needed. 

For this typical t-shirt, there is a print on the front and a small print on the sleeve. In evaluating this shirt, I decided that that small print is not important so I will just keep the large print and discard the rest. If was important, it could be made into its own square or fussy cut and appliquéd onto the larger square. 

Shirt for a Tshirt Quilt

Here is another example. It is a polo shirt with just a small logo. It could be made into its own small square, or a large square could be cut out, including the button placket. 

Polo Shirt for tshirt quilt

Next, I decide what layout I will use depending on what the shirts need. Most of the time I will have the shirts be 12 x 12 inch finished squares. There are lots of ideas on Pinterest for t-shirt quilt layouts if you need some inspiration.  This is a link for my Pinterest board of Tshirt Quilts.

To prepare the squares to be cut out, I start by rough cutting around the area to be cut, leaving lots of extra fabric.

 Rough cut shirt ready for trimming for tshirt quilt

Then, I prepare to iron on interfacing to the back side of the shirt. This adds stability and prevents stretching.

Sometimes the shirt is too thick to see where to place the interfacing from the back. In this case, I iron some creases in the shirt from the front so I have a good reference point from the back.

Shirt with ironed on creases for tshirt quilt

 I use Pellon 911FF Lightweight Fusible Interfacing. 

Fusible Interfacing

I make it about an inch or two bigger than what I am cutting to give some wiggle room. Then, using the Pellon instructions, fuse it to backside of the shirt. 

Finally, I cut out the square. I have a 12 1/2 inch square ruler that I find helpful for centering over the print on the shirt. 

Square template on tshirt quilt

Here it is all cut out. 

Shirt square all ready to be sewn together for quilt

Next, depending on the layout, I sew the squares together. I like the press the seam allowance open. This helps to reduce bulk. 

Tshirt quilt top laid out

For quilting, I find it really depends on the layout. A lot of people like to do straight line stitch in the ditch. This avoids stitching over the logos. I have done that, and I have also free motion quilted over the whole quilt. If you want to do that, stitch a sample section to make sure your needle and thread can handle the bulk.  If you mess up, some stitching over the logos will not heal, so be confident before you stitch.

Free motion quilting on a tshirt quilt

Quilt-as-you-go can also be a good method because these quilts can be really heavy. 

Each t-shirt quilt is different because it each one has different shirts. So have fun designing and putting it together.

This is one of the t-shirt quilts I have made. It is a queen size quilt involving 56 shirts. Each shirt is unique and most are cut different sizes. I tried to keep all the big ones 12 inches wide, then made rows with all the shirts. All the little patches filled in as needed. I had one extra small square, so I put it on the back!

Finished t-shirt quilt

There you go! If you have any questions about t-shirt quilts, please leave a comment below. 

Have fun quilting!


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