Making a quilt out of t-shirts is both challenging and fun, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. It’s a great idea to keep your dear and favorite t-shirts together as they keep you memories at reach.
There are several ways to make a quilt out of t-shirts and you may try each one of them until you find your favorite method. You may spend the extra buck for a sophisticated quilting machine, or try simpler and lower cost method.
Some use fleece when quilting and don’t use batting, and you do need a keep in mind of couple of things. With this type of method, you don’t need interfacing/starching or backing and there’s no need for inner layer or batting either.
You don’t have to hand sew when using this method and it’s actually easier than you may think. It’s also great as it gives you a warmer quilt that is rather easy to machine wash also.
If you’re lucky enough to find some fleece on sale, don’t hesitate to get some. Typically though, for a 5 shirt by 4 shirt quilt (16-inch blocks), three yards should be enough for you.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and play a bit with the t-shirts until you get a better idea of your pattern for the quilt. The entire project shouldn’t take you more than one day, but this has to do a lot with your skills and your time. In addition, if you like it enough, you may also keep this idea for a future project, as smaller version for your kids. After all, we all wanna keep our baby’s clothes close to us!
What you need
You obviously need the old t-shirts, fleece (get creative and don’t be afraid to use mix colors for a patchwork back) – a yard for every 5-6 shirts. You also need a lot of thread, paper grocery bad (a large piece of cardboard will do also), plenty of pins, marker (or colored chalk), pinking shears (they really work amazing when quilting), and a good sewing machine.
Don’t forget you need a large flat surface as working space and time. Last thing you want is to be pressured by time when making your quilt. As for the patience, it’s the first thing you need on any quilting project, not to mention t-shirt quilting!
Begin by cutting a 16x16inch square from your cardboard/paper bag that serves you as a patter for each square. Place this patter on the back of each of your t-shirts and try to center it as much as you can.
Draw around the pattern onto the shirt with the chalk/marker/pencil. Some even used a permanent marker and cut inside the line afterwards. You may also try to cut around the pattern, but your shirt may move and give an uneven square. Don’t throw away the extra pieces as you may use them as cleaning rags in the future.
When you’re done with the t-shirts, use the same pattern to cut out the same number of fleece squares.
Continue by matching each t-shirt with a fleece square, back sided, with the good side of the t-shirt and the fleece faced out. Sew the diagonal pattern down one side, on each square. Move out 3.5 inches and sew (it doesn’t matter which side). Move another 3.5 inches and sew once again. You get in the end 5 diagonal “seams” through your t-shirt.
Do the same for the opposite way and make the 5 diagonal seam. The result is a diagonal quilted pattern on every single square of your quilt.
You should do the same with all squares.
Now it’s time to sew the t-shirts into rows and sew the rows afterwards, in order to get your quilt.
For better results when sewing the rows, start by putting the backs (the fleece side) of the squares together and get a ½ inch seam allowance. You obtain ½ inch of rough edges on the front side of your quilt. If you like the nice finishes, use the pinking shears to trim the seam allowances, for a zigzag edge.
Seam over the folded side of the seam and go ¼ inch from the original seam in order to get a 1-inch border between your squares. Do this for several times until you’re done with your rows.
When you have completed the rows, put two rows together, with their backs touching. The seams should show on the front side of your quilt.
Use the ½-inch seam allowance, sew, and give a nice finish with the pinking shears for trimming. After you folded down, make a top stitch at ¼ inch to leave 1-inch border between rows (just like you did between the squares). You need to do it until you’re done with all the rows.
As for the outside edges, fold them over ¼ inch and then again ¼ inch, giving you a ½ inch folded over. You get a nice finish edge after you topstitched right in the middle of this. If that doesn’t suit you, you can always trim around the whole thing using the pinking shears and fold over once at ½ inch for a fun zigzag border on the edges.
The worst part for the t-shirt quilting is trimming the threads. You should do it, though for the nice, professional looking finish.
Don’t forget to have squares exactly 16×16 and double check the diagonal seam on every single square. That is, if you want your quilt to be nice!