Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Making a T-Shirt Quilt

The last of the five T-shirt quilts is pieced!

They still need borders, as I wanted to assess how much fabric I had left before putting them on. Plus, I have little bits and pieces left that will go in the borders too.

But this post is all about how these quilts were put together, providing ideas for making one. My technique involves 
1) having more than enough fabric (so there's no worry about being short),
2) designing a layout that's interesting, taking advantage of different sized blocks,
3) lining up some seams for ease in assembly, 
4) being creative as the top is put together,
5) and having no fear to cut different sized strips! 

The first step in this process is the shirts. The logos are cut out with plenty of space around them, at least 4 inches. Taking care to use a press cloth on the logos so that the paint/ink doesn't get on the iron, a lightweight fusible interfacing is applied to the backside to help control the stretchy knit. Leaving a 2-3 inch border around the logo, the shirts are trimmed and squared without being overly concerned about size consistency. I ended up with four different size ranges - large, medium (more wide than tall), small (approximately 6" square), and a couple short and wide pieces.


Now time for the layout. Loosely using a 46" x 72" layout size, the shirts were arranged in a pleasing arrangement, with small, medium, and large pieces distributed evenly to fit within the space. 

Shirts were lined up in some areas to make sewing the sashing easier. See the white lines in the pictures below.

If a shirt didn't fall on one of the sashing seam lines, it just needs to have strips added to it to bring it up to size.

Now to start sewing. I chose simple blocks that added interest, but didn't become the focus of the quilt. The four patches at the top complement the small logos, while helping to increase the size of block for that area. 

This block is still small, and needs more sashing to bring up the size. Keeping design in mind to distribute color and interest, more sashing was added to the sides.

It's still just a wee bit small, so one more sashing strip goes on the sides. Notice that I am just sewing a strip and then cutting the extra length off. This is a much easier process than measuring the strip to length, and then sewing. 

Now the top and bottom sashing gets added so that the new 'block' fits the shirt to the right. I'm not worried about the shirt to the left, as a sashing strip at the bottom of my newly created unit will fill in the space.

Time to move to the next section, that within the circle.

Again, keeping design, color, and interest in mind, black strips are laid out to see how they look in the space. The blue pieces on the edges of these black strips are the longer sashing strips mentioned above.

I'm pleased with this idea. Now I just need to figure out what width is needed for the blue strips in between. The gap measures 2 1/2", and  1/2" is added on each side for seam allowances. That's very important to remember - add 1/2" seam allowances to the strips. Here, the strips need to be 3 1/2".

I cut a 3 1/2" blue strip, sewed a black strip to each side, added another blue/black unit, and then cut the whole thing to the right width for the space. 

The unit is then stitched to the corresponding shirt. This one ended up a bit longer than the shirt, so the excess was just trimmed away. I'm not going to fret over an 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch size difference between the strips.

Now the little block on the right needs sashing to fit the space. This time, black was sewn to the top and bottom of the small shirt logo,

and two black/blue strips are made for the sides, without a great concern for length. To get the small shirt block centered, it was creased in the middle, as was the corresponding shirt with sashing, (see the circle below) and those folds matched up. 

Sewn on, the excess at the top and bottom is trimmed off after lining up the ruler with the shirt to the left.

Now all of the pieces in that area can be sewn together. The upper corner of the top is now done.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea of how to do this. If the t-shirt block is too small, add blocks or sashing to make it fit the area, being creative in the design. Also, add sashing in between blocks for ease of sewing units together. The result is a fun t-shirt quilt that will make it's owner very happy!

Happy Quilting!


  1. Thank you for the tutorial. I love how you made these quilt, they look so easy. I need to make one for my husband. Now I am not as worried.

  2. Thanks for this useful tutorial. I made a big T shirt quilt and did all the calculations on paper. This looks much easier to do, and you got a lovely finish!


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