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T-Shirt Quilt and Directions
T-shirt quilt story and directions to make your own quilt.
You have a dresser drawer or closet full of old t-shirts. It’s time to clean out and make room to shop for those post-4th of July sales. Maybe you just find it’s just time to clean, but you really don’t want to part with those shirts after all these years. Like pictures, t-shirts hold memories of a time when…
So what can you do with the pile on the floor of the many colors and sizes of old t-shirts from your kids’ soccer or little league days? How about your old college shirts or those salvaged from high school activities. Those have to mean something or they still wouldn’t be in the back of your closest.
Instead of throwing away all these great memories, kept for so long, turn them into a t-shirt quilt.
I was working on a t-shirt quilt for a friend whose son passed away a few years ago. T-shirts are not just memories now they are gifts of times shared that can never be returned.
Her son was also a student in my classroom, before my age. As I cut, iron, sew and quilt memories of a young man come flooding back and make me smile. Like the quilt, I am glad to be able to use my talents so that the family can hide under the quilt made with the days of joys and peace with their son.
Old shirts turned into a shirt blanket can be a lifetime of memories.
Here are some pointers to follow when making your shirt quilt:
The instructions are based on a 15″ finished square T-shirt block. The quilt will eventually have the same size quilt block with a fabric sash between the shirt/blocks and fabric border.
First, check all of your shirts to make sure the designs will fit into a 15″ square. Sizes: all sizes include a 1 1/2″ sash and 2″ border and are based on a 14 1/2″ finished t-shirt block. If the shirts are smaller than the size mentioned above, sewing shirts together can form one block.
12 shirts will make a throw size blanket, approx. 48″ x 64″ – 3 across x 4 down.
20 shirts will make a double size blanket, approx. 64″ x 82″ – 4 across x 5 down
30 shirts will make a full size quilt, approx. 82″ x 96″ – 5 across x 6 down.
36 shirts will make a queen size quilt, approx. 96″ x 96″ – 6 across x 6 down.
42 shirts will make a king size quilt, approximately 110″ x 96″ – 7 long x 6 down.
Step 1 – Select Shirts – Make sure the shirts are clean and not stained.
Step 2 – Fusible Interfacing – Each shirt must be backed with a non-woven fusible interfacing to prevent it from stretching. Buy heavy fusible Pellon iron-on interface. Good quality allows less stretching of the shirts. Buy enough for 17″ per shirt. Iron first before cutting the shirts to the required square size.
Step 3 – Fabric for Binding/Bordering/Binding – Sash strips form a decorative grid between each T-shirt block. Plan on 2″ piping strips (1 1/2″ when finished) between the blocks, 2 1/2″ strips (2″ when finished) for the border, and additional fabric for the binding.
Step 4 – Cutting Shirts – Separate the front of the shirt from the back. Make sure the shirt is smooth, iron if necessary. You want your shirt side to be larger than 15 inches square – ideally larger than 17 inches to fit the interfacing. After you apply the interfacing, you will cut the shirt square to the desired size. (Mentioned in Step 2)
Step 5 – Fusing – Cut interfacing to a 17″ square. Do not separate the interfacing, it will show. Place the interfacing with the resin side down on the wrong side of the shirt, trying to center the design as much as possible. Follow the instructions from the manufacturer to fuse to the back of each T-shirt. Use a press cloth so you don’t get glue on your iron. Watch out for wrinkles – once cold they won’t come out!
Step 6 – Cutting the Squares – Square each fused shirt to 15″. Make sure you center the design and letters – measure twice – cut once! Be aware when cutting the design that a 1/4 seam allowance is required as you plan your design space
Step 7 – Arrangement – Place squares on the floor or on the bed and arrange. Alternate light/dark, busy/not so busy. Make sure the blocks can be read from the desired direction and all go in the same direction. Be careful to repeat pattern and words, so that these and not only colors do not end up in the same row or column.
Step 8 – Complete the Quilt – add sashing – Sashing strips are the horizontal and vertical strips between blocks. The horizontal strips should measure 15″ in length x 2″ in width. Cut enough sash strips to add to all shirts except the bottom row. Sew horizontal stripes to the bottom of each block, except for the blocks in the bottom row. Sew blocks together to form columns. To keep the blanket straight, use posts at the corners of the block and between the sash strips. Using a contrasting color makes it “pop” in this poster design.
Step 9 – First sew the strips onto each block. Make sure the first and last block of each row has a sash on each end. Now sew the strips for between the rows of the blocks together adding the posts between the strips. Include one strip for each block. There should be a strip between each row of blocks as well as above and below the blocks to form part of the border. The side border will be made automatically as you complete the rows.
End – Layer support bat and cover top. Drool or safety pin together. You can either hand quilt or machine quilt the shirt quilt.
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