How To Make a T-Shirt Quilt | Quick & Easy Guide

tshirt quilt
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Do you always end up with piles of T-shirts that you are just a little bit reluctant to give away? Do you have a sentimental attachment to your T-shirts but need a sustainable way to store them? Well, it may be time for you to make a T-shirt quilt!

What is a T-shirt quilt?

As its name suggests, this is a quilt made of T-shirts. There is really no great mystery to it. T-shirts quilts are usually made to preserve memories or create a thoughtful gift for a loved one.

What supplies do you need?

Before you can create a beautiful T-shirt quilt, there are several things you need to stock up on. These include:

  • T-shirts
  • Measuring tape
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Scissors 
  • Rotary cutters
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Batting
  • Pins 
  • Backing fabric
  • Binding
  • Fusible interfacing

How many T-shirts will you need? What works best?

While a 52” by 66” quilt requires around 20 T-shirts, a 60” by 72” one can use as many as 30 T-shirts. Ideally, you should only work with shirts whose graphics are at most 10” tall and 9” wide. For best results, wash and dry them before quilting. Also, make sure that they don’t have any holes or rips.

How to quilt a T-shirt quilt

Now that you’re properly informed about what you need, it’s finally time to start quilting. Just follow this step by step guide:

  1. Make a decision on the layout

Before you get into the nitty-gritty of creating a T-shirt quilt, you need to plan out the layout you want. For instance, you’ll have to decide whether your whole quilt will be made out of T-shirts or if you’re looking to incorporate some other fabric as well. Also, you need to decide if you want to use uniform panels or different sizes and piece them together like a jigsaw puzzle.

  1. Cut out the T-shirt

After washing, drying, and ironing your T-shirts, it’s now time to cut them. You should start with cutting out the front panel, working as close to the side seams as possible. Secondly, remove the sleeves and any connecting seams. Finally, remove the hemmed area on the T-shirt’s bottom and cut out the neck banding. By the time you’re done with all this cutting, you’ll end up with somewhat rectangular pieces of fabric. These will serve as the panels for your quilt.

  1. Lay out your panels

Now that your fabric panels are ready, it’s time to lay them down in the order you want. This is your chance to create the most appealing pattern for you. Feel free to move the panels around until you’re satisfied. Moreover, you can cut out coordinating fabric pieces to use in between panels. However, ensure you leave enough fabric to create a ½” seam allowance.

  1. Trim your panels

Following your now established design pattern, trim your panels. Make sure you leave around 1.5” of fabric around the edges though; ½” for the seam allowance and the rest to be cut off after the application of fusible interfacing. 

  1. Fuse the interfacing to the panels’ backs

Go through the manufacturers’ instructions and follow them to fuse the interfacing to your panels’ backs. Ensure the bonding is secure and then trim your panels to your desired size. Keep in mind that you still have to leave a ½” seam allowance.

  1. Start sewing

Now that everything is all set up, it’s time to pin your panels and start sewing them together. While you can still effectively sew this by hand, a sewing machine will work much more conveniently. As expected, you should use a straight stitch and ½” seam allowance. Make sure to properly join the bottom of each panel to the top of the one just below it. Also, try to keep the seams open.

  1. Attach your batting and backing

Just like any other quilt, T-shirt quilts usually require batting and backing. As such, immediately after you finish your top fabric, you need to cut out a suitable size of both batting and backing. Next, you should secure the batting to the quilt top using pins. If you want some batting within your finished edge, just ensure it is a little bigger than your quilt top.

Once everything is secure, place your backing fabric face down on top of your quilt top and straight pin along its outer seam edge.

  1. Finish your quilt

It’s now time to finish your quilt. To do this, you can either use a sewing machine or some popular hand finishing techniques. If you go with the latter method, you can either tie your quilt or do some regular hand sewing. However, if you used the previously explained arrangement to pin your backing, batting, and quilt top together, you are better off with machine quilting.

Just make sure to only sew together 3 sides, leaving one side open so that you can easily turn your quilt right side out before finishing that final side. For a beautiful final touch, add some binding and cute mitered corners. 

Pro tips

Here are a few tips that come in really handy when making a T-shirt quilt:

  • If you’re sewing machine keeps snagging the fabric of your T-shirts, you should switch out your needle for a ballpoint one
  • To learn the ropes, you can practice with T-shirt scrap fabrics to create a small quilt before you start your actual project
  • To make a standard throw blanket size quilt, you will usually need at least 16 T-shirts

Do I need batting for a T-shirt quilt?

Technically, you don’t need batting to make any kind of quilt, even T-shirt ones. However, batting does make a quilt warm and insulating; a quality you particularly need for beddings and throw blankets. Quilt batting also increases the longevity of your quilt. 

How to care for a T-shirt quilt

To ensure that your T-shirt quilt remains in good condition for a long time to come, there are some basic care tips that you should be aware of. These include:

  • Wash your quilt in cold water using a washing machine. For extra-large quilts, opt for a front-loading machine
  • If you suspect your quilt’s dye bleeds, use color catchers
  • It is okay to line dry a T-shirt quilt
  • If you choose to use a dryer, use low heat
  • If you notice holes on your T-shirt quilt, apply some fray check on it
  • If your quilt gets dusty, throw it in the dryer for 30 minutes. The dryer should be on the air fluff (no heat) setting
  • Never store your T-shirt quilt in a plastic bag. Avoid storing it directly on wooden shelves as well. Either keep it inside a pillowcase or wrap it in a sheet
  • Don’t leave your T-shirt quilt exposed to direct sunlight for long periods

So there you have it; that’s all you need to know about T-shirt quilts. Whether you are a newbie quilter or have been in the game for a while, I believe there is something to be learned from our informative guide!

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