9.20.2011

Fall T-Shirt Quilt Tutorial



This might be the perfect fall project... the t-shirt quilt.  First of all, you get to recycle all of those old college/school/sports T-shirts taking up too much space in your drawers.  Second, you can take it with you to all of your chilly fall sporting events and show support for your school/team.  And third, talk about warm and comfy... it's a blanket made of all of your super soft well-worn t-shirts!  What could be better?


Now for the really cool, inspiring, "I can do that" moment.  This quilt was made by one of my friends from high school, Brooke, (reconnected through myspace back when myspace was cool) who never sewed before (unless you count 7th grade home ec... like myself). No really. I got an email from her one day saying she was interested in making a quilt and what should she buy... including what kind of machine.  After I wrote back a novel of an email listing everything I owned for sewing, she emailed me back a couple months later with this!  If that's not an if-she-can-do-it, I-can-do-it moment, I don't know what is.


Ready to make your own?  (Huge thanks to Brooke for sending me all of her step by step photos and tips... and for letting me blog about it)


Supplies:
• T-shirts.  The amount of t-shirts will depend on what size quilt you would like to make. Brooke did 5 shirts across and 6 shirts down, making her quilt approximately full size if you were to put it on a bed. Also, if you were to use the fronts and backs of your shirts, you would need fewer shirts.
• Fusible Interfacing.  You need this because t-shirts are really stretchy and thin.  The interfacing will make everything much more stable and easier to cut into squares.  Get the kind that only has glue on one side. You will need enough to back each of your t-shirt squares plus a little trim excess.
• Large panel of fleece for the back of your quilt.  It needs to be slightly larger than your finished quilt front. You could use a thinner and lighter fabric, but go with fleece for a warmer quilt.
• A sheet of batting the same size or larger than your quilt front.
• 15"x15" Square Quilter's Ruler (or whatever size you want your squares to be)
• All your regular sewing crap... machine, thread, pins, scissors, rotary cutter, rulers...


Step 1: Gather your t-shirts...
and cut the portion of them out that you want to use.  Make sure to cut your shirts slightly larger than the desired finished square size. (AKA, slightly larger than the square ruler you are going to use to trim your t-shirt pieces to size).


Step 2: Iron fusible interfacing, following the manufacturer's directions, to each of those slightly larger pieces you just cut out.
Some fusible interfacings require you to iron them on using a damp towel (above).  Follow the directions yours comes with.


Step 3: Trim your pieces, now backed with interfacing, using your square ruler.  After this step they should all be perfect squares (okay, somewhat close), all the same size.


Step 4: Lay out those squares, side by side, until you find an order you like. Keep going until your entire quilt is arranged on the floor... or giant table if you have one that big.


Step 5: Go row by row, sewing each square it its neighbor, right sides together, using about a 1/4" seam allowance. When this step is done you will have several long strips.


Step 6: Sew your strips from step 5 together, right sides together, using a 1/4" seam allowance again. Ta dah! You have a quilt top.


Step 7: Make your sandwich. Lay your fleece out on a big flat surface. (If using a fabric with a right side and a wrong side, make sure your right side is facing down) Also good to point out, Brooke had to sew two large pieces of fleece together to make one piece large enough to cover he whole back. Lay your batting on top of that (the meat). Lay your quilt top on top of that, right side up.


Step 8: Baste.  You need to stick your layers together somehow so that when you start sewing, they don't shift all over the place.  You can use fusible batting like I did on my meandering quilt, basting glue spray, pins, etc.


Step 9: Quilt!  Brooke used a sort of zig zag diagonal pattern that looked like this.


She applied tape in lines across the front of her quilt and sewed beside them as a guide.  She has also warned me, and I quote, "IMPORTANT:  Don't sew on the tape." Got it?


Step 10: Add your binding.  Brooke used the same fleece that she used for the back.  And since fleece doesn't fray, you don't even have to fold it under twice : )  I like that idea.


Done!




Optional:  Did you notice two of Brooke's squares are made up of nine smaller squares?  That's because she used the small pocket sized design from the fronts of her shirts to make those.  She used a 5 1/2" square ruler as her guide to cut those tiny squares out. Then sewed the tiny squares  together, just like you would the rest of the quilt top, to make a full sized square.  A little more work, but a really cool effect and a great way to add interest.


I hope you are inspired!  Read your sewing machine manual, ask the ladies at the fabric store, Google, search youtube, or email fellow sewing bloggers... worked for Brooke : )

40 comments :

  1. That's awesome--my mom has had all of my old and favorite shirts saved in hopes to make a quilt one day and this is definitely the kick-in-the-butt to start it with her!! :) THANKS!

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  2. Perfect for the fall! My husband put away a box of old t-shirts a few months ago and asked me to make a quilt for him. Now I know how. Thank you!

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  3. Thanks for posting this. I went through my t-shirts tonight and have enough to make a quilt, so my project list just got a little longer!

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  4. Cool project right? I really don't think I have enough T-shirts to make one for myself... but what I do have is a bunch of old baby clothes/onsies. I'm thinking that would be a cool way to hand on to my kid's tiny clothes even when they are not tiny anymore. : )

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    1. Hi. I just wanted to say this is such a great idea. I stumbled over it last year and decided to make my kids quilts for Christmas using their old t shirts, scraps and pillowcases I had picked up in charity shops. If I had not found your tutorial I would never have imagined I could do it. Now it's done I am not sure what I was worried about! And my kids love their new quilts. Thanks for such a great idea.

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    2. Thank you! Great to hear and the reason I'm motivated to keep posting tutorials. I've been blogging almost a year and it still surprises me when I realize people are actually reading what I post. haha. I know, that's the whole point.. but it's still really flattering! Glad it helped and yes, YOU CAN DO IT! : )
      Sarah

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  5. While I would never have that many t-shirts, I do like the idea of doing it with baby clothes. Thanks for the tut!

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    1. Welcome! I don't have that many shirts either... but I do have tons of baby clothes too. Just need to get the motivation to start! :)

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  6. this couldn't have come at a better time! i just pulled a bunch of very old band tees out of my closet at my parents house and i thought "what the heck am i going to do with all of these???" problem solved! and to line the quilt with tape before you sew? oh my genius! LOL. i wish i would have seen this before i made my receiving blanket quilt....which still isn't finished.....

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    1. Thanks :) And isn't that always the problem with quilts? You start... and then they sit "started" for a lonnnng time. I have one that's been in mid progress for almost 2 years! :/

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  7. did she just use white thread for the quilting part? and do you have a tutorial for the binding also? this project looks so cool!! i've been cutting up my old shirts all day :-)

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    1. Yep, white thread. Which I learned from other bloggers is the "traditional" color to use for quilting... but you can use whatever you like. I need to get a tutorial for binding up soon! Though, not sure I do it the proper way... seems to work for me! In the mean time, here's a tutorial from Red Pepper Quilts. She is fantastically talented.
      http://www.redpepperquilts.com/2009/11/binding-tutorial.html

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  8. Yes, I am with you Matt. I would love a video tutorial or more pictures on the binding part, please.

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    1. Hi! Thanks for reading :) I know!! I need to get on that ASAP. I have a quilt that will need binding soon so I will make sure to record myself or take tons of pictures. In the mean time, here is a tutorial from Red Pepper Quilts. She is incredibly talented and I love just browsing through her quilts. Hope it helps.

      http://www.redpepperquilts.com/2009/11/binding-tutorial.html

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  9. I love your tutorial! It is the easiest and most fun to follow. Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. Thanks for the compliments! :) Welcome.

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    2. Wow...love the t/shirt quilt.....Iam just finishing one up as we speak and wanted to mention you dont have to use a batting if you use fleece.....simply because when you go to wash it .....your washing machine wont do a dance if you know what I mean lol...its heavy enough but thats just my opinion....I will send you a pic when Iam done...Iam doing the binding sometime this week I hope.....thx for the tut....so many out there and yours really makes it look easy....the only problem I had was I decided to do a boarder around each block to give it a little pizzaz......Trish

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  10. Also, I suggest that you pin the corners when matching up rows. The corners will meet perfectly.

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  11. Found you via Pinterest and love this quilt! My sister wants me to make her one for her upcoming birthday. I think I got it all figured out except the binding.... from the picture, I'm not quite sure how it was attached. Is it the "usual" way with mitered corners? Is it sewn on by hand or by machine? I'll go check out the one you linked to, but would love to know exactly how this one was done. Thanks so much :)

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  12. Thank you SO much for this. As a new sewer/quilter I'm very grateful for this. It helps a lot.

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  13. Wow! I'm (finally) inspired - my daughter gave me a pile of her HS shirts from Drill Team & Choir...she also gave me one of her warm-up jackets - it's a heavy polyester-type fabric...anyway to use this? I think she just wants the logo part (small square?)...Hmmmmm a bit more thinking then I can line 'em up and cut 'em out! Thanks for the great tutorial!

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  14. This is awesome! Can't wait to try this! I have a lot of those same USF shirts. GO BULLS!

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  15. From a quilter and AOII from Indiana-- I have made two of these for my daughter from her college and high school t-shirts and she loves them. Now wants another one from her coaching and teaching jobs. They are great for memories and conversation pieces!!

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    1. I agree! Hope I can get my act together and make one of my favorite baby outfits from my kids. Great useful way to keep those things.

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  16. This is a really cool idea! I think I’ll go make one out of some old shirts that I don’t use (or sadly, won’t fit me) anymore. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Linnie Dimmitt

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  17. Thanks for the very very nice post. This is so simple. thanks for the helpful tutorial. Where do I find these thing for my t-shirt?

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  18. I was amazed to find this AOII quilt tutoring. I wish I had saved all my AOII shirts to make a similar quilt. Perhaps in the future. @,~~~

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  19. I have all of my AOII t-shirts from college washed and ready to start measuring...I am super excited to take this adventure.

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  20. One of the easiest tutorials to follow in this! I too have all my old AOII shirts that I plan to turn into a quilt! :-)

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  21. This is one of the easiest tutorials to follow! Thank you! I'm with tkm083076...I have a ton of AOII shirts I need to quilt! :-)

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  22. Question...I have a basic sewing machine and I worried that it might "chew" the fleece (ie, it won't feed the fabric through)-I really don't want to sew into wax paper (what my mom suggested). What was your experience with this?

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  23. love this quilt! I was AOII at SLU in Louisiana!

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  24. Love this quilt! I was AOII at SLU in Louisiana but I did not save nearly as many shirts, sadly!

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  25. I basically did this; but used the T-shirt backs for the back of quilt and made it a rag quilt.

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  26. I am interested in making a tee shirt quilt with fleece backing, but have two questions. Will this work with strips sewn between the squares, and if so, what sort of fabric would you suggest for those? Also, I don't understand the "tape" part on your tutorial. Thanks in advance for any additional info.

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  27. Where did you get your square ruler?

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    1. You can buy square rulers like that in the sewing section at most stores. I got mine at JoAnn's but I know Walmart sells them too. Here's a link if that helps. Thanks!
      http://www.walmart.com/ip/Omnigrid-Quilter-s-Square/17338156?action=product_interest&action_type=title&placement_id=irs_top&strategy=PWVAV&visitor_id=42836228664&category=0%3A2637%3A667479%3A1021743&client_guid=ef904cea-be1b-49fb-b58d-b91ee5d8d6e4&config_id=2&parent_item_id=19216414&guid=19d90c73-4005-42f5-bcd9-d6119deb3cfb&bucket_id=irsbucketdefault&findingMethod=p13n

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  28. Saw you on Pinterest. I live in Tampa now, do you? Been here 3 years. I blog at www.15septemberarts.blogspot.com. Would love for you to follow me. I have made 2 of these several years ago. I added sashing between each square. Did QAYG, Took forever.

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    1. Hi Ellen. Nope, not Tampa. Close to Orlando. I just visited your blog. You're an amazing quilter! I'm always so impressed when people's quilts look so neat! haha I guess that comes with practice. And yeah, every quilt I've ever made had taken me months. I'm like the tortoise :)

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