How to Make a T-Shirt Quilt


Welcome to SewVeryEasy, my name is Laura. And do you have too many t-shirts? Well, let’s make a t-shirt quilt. And the first thing that we need to do is get them nice and clean and have no oil residue on them. So give them a good wash in the washing machine and throw them in the dryer, but do not use fabric softener and do not use a dryer sheet because we want to keep them as clean as possible. After they’re washed and dried, we need to cut out the front panel, but we need to decide how big we’re going to have it. So you need to go through all of the t-shirts and find the biggest print, and that is going to be your square measurement for all of the patterns. And I’ve found that for the average t-shirt, 12½” is a great size—and I happen to have a 12½” ruler. So now I need to cut out all of the t-shirts. The first cut, I’m going to want to make that bigger than the size that I actually want. And I like to just put down the size that I want, so if you do not have a ruler you can just make a cardboard template because you’re not going to use this to cut for the first time. This is just giving me a guide. And as long as there’s no picture on the back, I’m going to just cut this out with my rotary cutter all the way around. I’m going to leave lots of edge. And by doing it this way, I don’t have to worry about this pattern being too small. Now if you want to keep the [rest of the] t-shirt for other projects, you’ll have to manually do this with scissors so you don’t cut both layers. Now going to be able to take the print and put it in one pile, and take the t-shirt and put in another. You might find a craft to use it for. And you might run into a t-shirt where where you want it cut is coming up into the neckline, where there is no fabric. You’ll be able to take a piece from the bottom, slip it underneath the neckline, and then topstitch all the way along the edge, holding that back piece onto the front piece. After you’ve stitched that top area, stitch one more row along the neckline. So you’re going to have two rows of stitching. When you turn it over this is what it’s going to look like. You then are going to be able to cut off this extra that is going into the body. And by doing those two rows of stitching, you’re not going to have to worry about that t-shirt frame. Now when you go to square it up, you have no hole in the neckline. If you have a t-shirt that has a print on both sides and you want to use both sides, you’ll need to cut the t-shirt down the [sides?], up through the arms so you can open up flat. Now you’re going to be able to cut both the front and the back. Now that we have the t-shirts cut out we need to press them and stabilize them so they don’t stretch while we’re sewing. You will need a fusible stabilizer. I’m using a stabilizer from Floriani. It’s actually designed for t-shirts or something that stretches. And it’s fusible. So you need to cut as many pieces as you have for shirts, larger than the piece that you want to cut out. When it’s all pressed together we’re going to trim it up. So you’ll be able to take your t-shirt to the iron and press it from the wrong side. And while that’s still on the ironing board upside-down, you’re going to be able to take a piece of the stabilizer and fuse it onto the t-shirt. Follow the directions of the fusible interfacing that you’re going to use. In this case it is telling you to use a medium dry heat which means there’s no steam. And when you have all of these pressed and stabilized then we’re going to cut it out to the exact size that we want. And when that fusible interfacing is put on, it makes that nice and crisp and you can use this just like a cotton fabric now. There are a couple of things to remember about using a fusible interfacing. Number one: You want to make sure that the glue side is down and not up against your iron. How can you tell it’s the glue side down? The glue side usually has a little bit of a shine to it and it’s a little rougher than the side that does not have the glue. The second thing is make sure that you press the shirt from the backside, because the ink on the shirt can actually melt with the heat of the iron. So you will need to do all of your pressing from the back. And when all of your t-shirts are fused together, now you can trim them down to the size that you want. I have a great 12½” ruler, so that is going to be my measurement. And I’m going to start with thirty t-shirts because I’m going to have six rows with five t-shirts in each row. And when they’re all trimmed up, even the oldest, beat- up shirt still looks nice and fresh. Now you can use this in any quilt block now that starts with the 12½” square, or, if you’ve done it a different size the size, that you have. If you’d like to follow along, I am going to finish this up and sew it together. The next is to frame all of these blocks. It’s going to help stabilize it even more. So I’m going to do two sides in the black, and the other two sides you can choose any color you want. What color I 𝒘𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒅 𝒏𝒐𝒕 recommend would be white. The reason is white t-shirts over time fade and change color so they’re not true white. You put a white fabric up against this, it’s going to make it appear a little bit yellow and old and we want it to stay nice and clean-looking, so choose another color. Gray is a great color. Another color is actually pink. Pink goes with almost all colors, so if you’re doing it for a girl you can always use pink. And if you’re doing it for a boy, well, gray might be the way to go. I’m going to use the pink and the black. And the black I’m going to put on this corner which is the righthand side because I want it to appear like a shadow. And if you have a jersey needle well, that would be great. A 70/10 or an 80/12 would be fine. If you don’t, you can use a universal [needle] because these have already been stabilized. My thread: I’m going to use an all-purpose thread. In the top I’m going to put black. In the bobbin I’m going to put a medium gray and then I will be stitching with the black fabric on top. Then I will change the black when I get to the next color but leave the gray in the bobbin. The first border is 2″ by 12½”, and in this case you just need to finger-press it. If you want to iron it you would have to be very careful not to touch the print. The next along the bottom is going to be 2″ by 14″. Two of the borders are done. Now we need to do the opposite sides and I’m going to be using this pink so change your thread—the top thread—to match your next borders. And you will need a 2″ strip by 14″. And let’s finish this block up by putting on a 2″ by 15½” along the top. How great are these finished blocks? The next thing is to sew them together in rows. So you’re going to need five per row and 6 rows, so just put them together how you see fit. And when it’s all put together you will notice that that pink has made a border around all of the blocks and for the top and the left side. So what you need to do is do a 2″ strip on the right side and the bottom, and the entire quilt is going to be framed, so you’re not putting a border around the entire quilt, just two more sides. And you’re done. By doing it this way you’ve already added all of your borders and that dark black gives it sort of a shadow- window look. You can’t get much easier than this: 12½” squares, four borders, you’re pretty much done. I do hope you give this a try and, as always, Thank you for joining me today on SewVeryEasy. Feel free to subscribe and, as always, come on back. Let’s see what we’re sewing next time
in the sewing room. Bye for now!