My First Attempt at a T-Shirt Quilt

So, if you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’ve mentioned before my love/hate relationship with my works in progress.  One minute, I am totally loving how something is working out, and in a split second, I am suddenly struggling to finish that same project because I feel like it is going downhill fast.  This quilt took me on such a roller coaster ride, I actually walked away from it for almost a week.  I needed to look at it with fresh eyes, and hopefully give myself enough time to get over what I wasn’t liking about it, before continuing on.  And luckily, that worked.  I love the end result.  I think it’s super cute, and I already have plans to make another t-shirt quilt…of course with a completely different layout and style, which will more than likely also come with a roller coaster ride of its own, but we’ll talk about that later!

Below you’ll find a basic how-to with a few tips added here and there.  Feel free to ask questions.  Just a note, this quilt used 20 t-shirts.  (I only used the fronts.)  I think a 3×3 would be a good size for a lap quilt, and you would only need 9 shirts.  If you’d like cutting instructions for the smaller version, just let me know!

Enjoy,

Nikki, In Stitches

P.S. Sorry for the bad pics!  Can you tell I’m short, and even standing on a chair with my arms stretched as high as they can go above my head, I still can’t get a straight shot??

Materials:

*20 t-shirts

*2 3/4 yards of lining fabric (I was lucky enough to be able to use scraps!)

*2 yards of sashing fabric (*Only 1 1/2 yards needed, if sashing is pieced.)

*2 1/4 yards of border fabric (*Only 1 yard needed, if border is pieced.)

*4 yards of backing fabric

* 3/4 yard of binding fabric

Cutting Instructions:

1.  Cut your t-shirts apart, leaving the front intact.  Then cut a 12 1/2″ square from the front of each shirt.

2.  From your lining fabric, cut 20 pieces 12 1/2″ square.  Pin baste each of these to a t-shirt square.  This way, the stretchy t-shirt fabric will always be sandwiched between two pieces of stable cotton, and will be much easier to work with!  (Note: some people like to iron the t-shirts to interfacing, thus not needing the lining fabric.  I chose not to in this case, because I didn’t want to loose the soft, comfy feel of the t-shirts, but I will admit, it would have been easier to work with and quilt, if I had.)

3.  From your sashing fabric, cut 15 pieces 12 1/2″ by 2 1/2″

4.  From your sashing fabric, cut 6 pieces 58 1/2″ by 2 1/2″

5.  From your sashing fabric, cut 2 pieces 72 1/2″ by 2 1/2″

6.  From your border fabric, cut 2 pieces 58 1/2″ by 4 1/2″

7.  From your border fabric, cut 2 pieces 80 1/2″ by 4 1/2″

Assembly Instructions:

Sew Row 1 of the quilt top together. (I tend to work from left to right, so I would sew pieces in the following order: Row 1 – T-Shirt Block, 12 1/2” x 2 1/2” sashing strip, T-Shirt Block, 12 1/2” x 2 1/2” sashing strip, T-Shirt Block, 12 1/2” x 2 1/2” sashing strip, T-Shirt Block.) Always press to the sashing strips.

2. Repeat Step 1 for Rows 2 – 5 of the quilt top.

3. Working from top to bottom, sew Rows 1 to 5 together with a 58 ½” x 2 1/2” sashing strip between each. Press to the sashing strips.

4. Sew the remaining to 58 ½” x 2 1/2” sashing strips to the top and bottom of the quilt top, pressing to the sashing strips.

5. Sew the remaining two 72 1/2” x 2 ½” sashing strips to each side of the quilt top, again pressing to the sashing strips.

6. Sew a 58 ½” x 4 1/2” border strip to the top and bottom of the quilt top. Press out to the borders.

7. Sew an 80 1/2” x 4 1/2” border strip to each side of the quilt top, pressing out to the borders.

You can visit the following two tutorials I posted last year for step-by-step directions to quilt and bind your finished product:

A Quilt Sambo! – How to pin baste your layers together and stitch in the ditch

In all honesty, t-shirt material does not “quilt” very well.  Be sure to use a walking foot!

Bound and Determined – How to assemble your binding and attach it to your quilt

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12 Responses to My First Attempt at a T-Shirt Quilt

  1. Kelly says:

    Nikki,
    This is fabulous! Getting you more t’s this weekend. It will be perfect. Thanks for sharing! Also the golf pics are priceless.
    Love, Kelly

  2. Annmaree says:

    This is very cool Nikki!!!!

    I love this idea, and heck I have the same thing happen with me with any project I tackle, its all a love/hate thing!

    But getting through those small trials and creating something beautiful is so worth the effort!!!

  3. Michelle says:

    I love it! Great tutorial, btw 🙂

  4. Found you on Craft Gossip & so glad I did. I have been working on a “run for the cure” t-shirt quilt for almost a year (yikes!). It is only 9 shirts though. Thanks for the motivation!

  5. chuesberg52 says:

    To be able to work with t-shirt fabric easier for quilting, you can use iron-on stabilizer on the back of the t-shirt so that it doesn’t stretch.

    The walking foot is great because it allows the feed dogs and the top of the quilt to move relatively at the same time.

    This is a great quilt. Thank you for the inspiration!

    • So happy you like the quilt!
      I’m so happy you mentioned the iron-on stabilizer. I knew it would make it easier to work with, but I was afraid it would be too stiff. I didn’t want my t-shirts to loose their soft, comfy feel.
      Did you find this an issue at all??

  6. Jody says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE my tee shirt quilt (mine is the one shown in the picture, all of my running tees!). Since my hubby won’t turn on the heat until December or so, it’s been keeping me super warm lately. It also acts as a great tear catcher for movies such as “Time Travelers Wife” and “The Blind Side” 🙂

  7. debra says:

    I want to make a tshirt quilt for my daughter that is graduating this year from high school. She is moving out of state and I want to give it to her for comfort! I would rather not have squares, but would rather mine be more of a collage. Do you have any suggestions for me. I would like to incorporate photos and also I am thinking I would like to scan pictures of some of her academic awards and make them print on a fabric also! Please help!!!

  8. melissa says:

    Hi Nikki!! I am attempting my first t-shirt quilt for my daughters boyfriend. I cut out different sized squares and rectangles w/ the largest being 15 x 15″. I layed them out so I like the colr scheme- but they don’t fit all together. I’ve seen your mosaic style quilts and can’t figure out how to go about sewing together the different size pieces. Do you start in the top left corner? No sashing but fill the odd “holes” with plain material to plug in? I’ve been walking awawy from it thinking I’ll come back and see it differently. HELP!! Thanks so much for explaining it to me– Melissa

    • Nikki says:

      Melissa,
      The trick is to somehow get them into blocks or rows that you can piece together, and then sew those larger pieces together to form the quilt top. You can absolutely fill in the blanks with material, or even scraps from your t-shirts. I saw in your email to me you also mentioned maybe sashing them to all be the same size, and then piecing them together. That is an option, but will take away from the “mosaic” look. Like I said, try putting them into smaller blocks, and then see if you can piece those together!
      I’m worried this isn’t much help :/ Please ask me any questions you may have!!

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