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Here’s How to Turn Your T-Shirts Into a Keepsake Quilt

Do you have a drawer full of T-shirts that you just can’t throw away? What should you do with them? Why, cut them up and make a t-shirt quilt, of course!

How to make a T-shirt quilt: the basics

By consolidating your T-shirts into a quilt, you get to keep your old tees and displaying the memories they represent. Here’s a basic overview of transforming your tees into a memory quilt!

Get the FREE pattern Angela uses in this video right here.

Step 1: Sorting your T-shirts

Pull out all of your old T-shirts and sort them. Are some in the same family (such as your old sorority T-shirts)? Group those together. If not, can you group them by color? Then, you can decide if your quilt will certain focus on a certain theme or color, or if you want a mix of favorites.

When sorting, keep an eye on the the dimension of the print on the shirt, and choose those that are somewhat similar in size.

Once you have your favorites, think about how large your quilt will be. If you are making a throw or bed quilt, you’ll going to need lots of shirts! If a wallhanging T-shirt quilt is your thing, be very selective because you will only need a few.

Step 2: Preparing and stabilizing the tees with interfacing

Wash all the T-shirts using a regular detergent, but no fabric softener, and dry as usual.

Then, take apart those shirts! Open the side seams with a seam ripper, or cut them carefully with a pair of sharp fabric scissors.

Since T-shirt fabrics are stretchy, they need to be stabilized prior to cutting out the squares. A lightweight, woven fusible interfacing that has little or no stretch will do the trick.

Apply the interfacing to the back of all of the T-shirt pieces. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions, and always test interfacing on a small square of extra T-shirt material before using it on your project material.

Once the interfacing is fused to all of the T-shirt pieces, decide on the size of your square. You should be able to comfortably cut a 14″ to 16″ square from each shirt. Remember to allow a couple inches of blank space around the graphics! Cut squares using a rotary cutter, ruler and mat (here’s how).

Step 3: Sewing the shirts together

Now it’s time to sew the quilt top together! The squares can be sewn directly together in a patchwork manner, or they can be sewn together in a grid with sashing in between.

Step 4: Make the quilt sandwich, sew and quilt!

When the quilt top is finished, cut a piece of backing fabric to be a few inches larger than the quilt top. Layer the quilt sandwich together with wrong sides facing, with or without batting in between. Baste the stack together carefully so that the three layers are secure. Quilt as desired and bind. That’s it!

T-shirt quilting class

Make Your Own Custom T-Shirt Quilt!

Get step-by-step guidance as you make your T-shirt quilt in our online video class.Watch in Bluprint

10 awesome design ideas for T-shirt quilts

If you’re a more experienced quilter, there are many ways to switch up this kind of quilt! A few options? Play around with the layout by using blocks of different sizes or by adding borders and cornerstones. If you need some inspiration, check out these unique T-shirt quilt ideas.

1. Add sashing and cornerstones

Texas A&M Tshirt Quilt

Texas A&M Quilt by Craftsy member kathes1958217901

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to make your T-shirt quilt a little different than standard squares is to add sashing (the fabric between rows and columns) and cornerstones (the details at the intersection of sashing pieces). The contrasting sashing on this sports-themed quilt really makes the same-color blocks pop!

2. Use shadow boxes

t-shirt quilt ideas

Photo via Craftsy member fabricstasher12

With a contrasting black “shadow” sitting below bright colored T-shirt blocks, this quilt was pieced with help from Winnie Fleming’s online class, The Ultimate T-Shirt Quilt. It takes a little bit of math work to get the squares to line up just right, but the payoff is huge!

3. Go crazy with patchwork

t-shirt quilt ideas

Photo via Craftsy member labandi8776914

Who says that all the blocks have to be squares and rectangles? Take this T-shirt quilt idea for a spin by piecing striped, checkered and zig-zag sashing to make your shirt blocks really pop!

4. Keep shirt collars on

t-shirt quilt ideas

Photo via Craftsy member eoda1259

This graduation T-shirt quilt has some “wow” factor in the center, with several shirts retaining their original collars. To get this effect, trim the shirt as normal, except for the collared side. Piece the shirt into the background fabric, and baste the collar down on your background before quilting. Be sure to avoid any buttons when you quilt!

5. Incorporate photos on fabric

t-shirt quilt ideas

Photo via Craftsy member Cindy Ross

For her granddaughter’s high school band T-shirt quilt, Cindy incorporated photos of treasured friends. Many products are available to help you transfer photos onto fabric, such as printable fabric sheets and iron-on transfers.

6. Extend shirt blocks with pieced strips

t-shirt quilt ideas

Photo via Craftsy member rncsouth760436

One neat way to get a uniform look in your T-shirt quilt is using two or three consistent colors across the board. This yellow, black and white quilt stands out thanks to its bold use of pieced strips to extend the shirt blocks horizontally and vertically.

7. Turn blocks on point

t-shirt quilt ideas

Photo via Craftsy member Adelines Quilts

Get a change of perspective with these on-point quilt blocks, which guide your eye every direction around the quilt. Add an array of ombré solids, like these pretty purples, in a classic block like the rail fence to make a larger quilt from just a few special shirts.

8. Pay attention to one theme

ScienTs T-shirt quilt

Scien-Ts quilt via Craftsy member Prof Sepoc

Sometimes the best T-shirt quilt ideas revolve around a single theme. Whether it’s punk rock or a sports team or a hobby, thematic T-shirt quilts can help tie the whole concept together much better than a random assortment. If you don’t have enough tees to make a quilt or if you want to make the quilt as a surprise gift, consider scouring thrift shops, vintage stores and eBay for additional pieces.

9. Add solid shirt pieces

Swimming T-Shirt Quilt

Swimming T-shirt quilt via Craftsy member Karen McIlmoyle

Can’t get your tees to interlock the way you’d like? Don’t feel like they have to be the only part of your quilt top! Solids make great sashings, as do coordinating prints. Cut some extra blank squares from the T-shirt material to make colorful columns. They really break up the quilt’s thematic elements.

10. Use shirts on the quilt back

If you’re looking for a way to include T-shirts in a design without having them dominate the entire quilt, backing can be a great way to go. Get shirts that coordinate with your theme or colors and save them from their sad box in the basement! Use your imagination and have fun creating a quilt that is truly full of memories.

11 Comments

Lorri Overson

We can make this for you if you are not up to doing it yourself. Check it out at our website.

Reply
Rosemary

I’m working on finishing a T-shirt quilt for D#2 and now D#1 wants want too. This quilt was really a challenge as everything was a different size. I included her soccer team pictures, sox, baseball style hat and mascot as well as a picture of the school which she took. Hopefully the next one will be easier.

Reply
Kate Maeda

I was especially happy to see Molly’s non-linear quilt. I have been thinking about a t-shirt quilt but the areas I want to use are all different sizes so this gave me an idea what my finished product might look like.

Reply
Abby

Kate, I’ve been doing non-linear t-shirt quilts for years. I keep as much of the shirt as possible when I apply the interfacing. You end up cutting some off, but the thinnest, cheapest interfacing is best anyway.

I lay the shirts out, determining how the colors work together best. If you look at Molly’s quilt, you can see where shirts are lined up together, either in columns or rows, and then sewn together into larger blocks. If you leave enough extra space on the t-shirt blocks before trimming them down, you can trim them so they’ll fit into rows or columns with other blocks. It’s hard to explain, so I hope that helps.

I started with sashing, and now I sew them all together without sashing. It’s a lot easier than you’d expect.

Reply
Sarah C

Love these quilts- there are many ways to make them more modern too!

Reply
Molly

I always wanted to make one of these with my college tshirts, but unfortunately I decided to clean out my closet a few years ago…I’m so mad now!! Oh well, these are so beautiful and give me so many ideas for the future! Thanks for sharing!!!

Reply
Tammy

This was such great timing for me. My son graduates from high school this May and I have been putting back T-shirts over the past few years from church camp and youth events, concerts, and just some misc. ones that I know that he loved, but had outgrew. I had done a few google searches, so I had an idea on how to do it. I have just cut up his shirts last week leaving as much as possible around the designs since I’m not sure exactly how I want to do the layout yet. This was great info. I’m just not sure which interfacing to use. I have read other places to use a tricot interfacing, but I can’t find that at JoAnn’s. Any suggestions on which type from Pellon??

Reply
Sherry

I have completed 33 t-shirt quilts and several throws incorporating all sorts of different fabrics from clothes. I have used only the the t-shirt fabric for the front of the quilts and have gotten very creative with the borders. It can be a bit of a challenge sometimes to make all the different shirts coordinate, but always fun to see the finished project.

Reply
Deborah Ocasio

Any ideas on how to make a table runner utilizing t-shirts?

Reply
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quilting hoodies

As you can see, I have chosen a lovely shade of lime green for my towel that gets completely washed out into a sagey color by
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Reply

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