Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tutorial for T-Shirt Quilt

Preserving your child's youth is something we would all love to do...but, unfortunately we can't make time stand still. One thing you can do is preserve some memories of special times in their lives. 

I have been making T Shirt quilts for over 10 years now and I still get excited for each one and enjoy seeing the adventures in the young person's life and what is special to them.  Most T Shirts consist of schools or sports they have attended and participated in throughout the years. Also, included are vacation spots, retreats attended, clubs or even family type T Shirts. 

This is my attempt at showing you how to make a memorable quilt for your child or someone you love. 

First thing is gather all the possible T Shirts that you may want to use, even if it is more than you may need.  Be sure to wash all shirts and fabric or sheet that you will use for the backing and border.

 Lay all the T shirts out in the position you would like to sew them together.  Consider the colors of the shirts when arranging.  This quilt uses 30 blocks, 5 across and 6 down.  This will result in a quilt size 78"w x 92"l.  Using 4 across and 5 down will finish at 64"w x 78" if you would like a smaller quilt or have less shirts. 

 After you have your arrangement, start cutting the T shirts to the sizes selected.
 Cut the large blocks 15" x 15"

Cut the 1/2 blocks 15" x 8"

Cut the 1/4 blocks 8" x 8"

Stitch the 1/2 blocks and and the 1/4 blocks together to make a 15" x 15" blocks.  You can also use one 1/2 and two 1/4 blocks.

The backs of each shirt need to have a stabilizer ironed on to prevent the T Shirts from stretching over time. I learned this from one of the first ones I made with out using stabilizer. This one was for my son and 13 years later, I ended up taking it all apart and adding the stabilizer and new batting. 

I have found that this Pellon works the best. 

It is soft, supple and machine washable and not stiff like interfacings can be. Follow the directions that come with the Pellon and apply it to the backs of all the shirt blocks. 

Stitch the T Shirts together in the order you have chosen using a 1/2" seam allowance. 

Next add a 4" border on all sides and a backing. Cut strips of fabric or a sheet 4 1/2" wide the length of the quilt on all sides and using a 1/2" seam allowance, attach the border to all 4 sides.

Seam fabric for the backing to be 4" wider and 4" longer than the finished top piece.  Using a bed sheet for the backing will eliminate seams.

Layer backing fabric, then batting of your choice and then the top of the quilt.  There are several types of batting you can use.  I prefer the high loft batting so it has some puffiness after quilting.

Trim off excess batting and center so the backing fabric is extending 2" on each side.

Fold the 2" of the backing fabric in half and then again to the top of the quilt and pin in place.  This will create the border around the edges.  Miter the corners and pin in place.

Topstitch the border edge in place, stitching the mitered corners also.

Pin around EVERY shirt and using a walking foot, stitch in the ditch down each row between the shirts and then stitch across each row between the shirts.


Strips of coordinating fabric can also be added between the shirts for an alternate look...

~ Darlene

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  1. I have seen several tutorials on this, but yours looks great! My sister just asked me yesterday if I would make one for her and her husband this summer. Plus, I know my little sister wants me to make her one too, she hasn't officially asked.... just hinted at it!

    1. Thank you! I always get excited when I make one!! I am sure your little sister will love it and treasure it forever.... not only that it will be beautiful, but also that YOU made it for her!

      ~ Darlene

  2. one day i will do something like this. this looks awesome and so much more useful than a bunch of tshirts. plus, hello, drawer space!

    1. I hope you do take the time to make one for yourself or someone you love... and yes, the drawer space is a nice bonus!!

      ~ Darlene

  3. Your quilts look so nice! I am making mu first one and I have a question. Do you not quilt on the t-shirts? In the tutorial it looks like uou just stitch around them. I have 15-inch squares and I'm worried that won't be enough.

  4. Thank you! Yes I only stitch around the edhe of the t shirt. It is about 14". The stabalizer on the back keeps the shirt from stretching. I have not had a problem with this method.
    Thank you,