t-shirt quilt mini-tute

last month when i made my tenn tshirt quilt i took some pictures for a quick "how-to-prepare-the-tshirts-for-a-quilt" tute...it's a simplier version of my post from way back in june 2009...i've made a few, and LAed a bunch and have seen what works and what don't....

first, you'll need some fusible stabilizer. i use a woven one that is availble at JoAnn's.

you'll want to wash and dry all the tshirts in hot water with NO fabric softner or dryer sheet. they leave a coating on the fibers of the shirt that will not allow the fusible to stick.

then you'll need to measure (or not) each shirt's logo. trust me, it's easier to do the math if you cut them out all the same size. plus i think that it makes a better looking quilt....*shrug* JMHO

i decided to trim all my shirts to 12.5. i had one or two shirts that the logo was 'cut off' and went all the way the the edges. i'm okay with that.

for the smaller designs, i tried centering best i could.

i cut up the sides, along the sleeve sides and across the neck just under the ribbing. cut your fusible at least 2 inches bigger than the size you will trim your shirts to. i cut my stabilizer at 14" square for my 12.5" cut shirts.

the reasoning- knit is stretchy and it's like trying to catch a greased pig. by cutting the fusible bigger, them trimming to size it assures that the tshirt block will be nice and square. it makes it SO much easier to sew into the quilt. i DO NOT reccomend trimming the shirt, then trying to fuse fusible to the back.

if your thsirt had a design on the back and front, you can use both. if you have logos on the front left chest of the shirt, fuse them just like if they were bigger. you can sew them together to make a bigger block. i use the small chest logos in the borders...

fuse the stabilizer to the wrong side of the shirt. fair warning- some paints will melt if touched with an iron, so try to always be careful and mindful to press the tshirts from the wrong side.

allow the fused shirt to cool. i fuse another while i wait. flip the shirt over, move it to your cutting mat, and trim to your predetermined size. at this point i go back to the ironing board and gently repress the freshly cut edges to double check that all the edges have been fully fused and are stuck.

now you have tshirts that are ready to be sewn into a wonderful quilt. think of the shirts as blocks-you can sew borders to each shirt in fabric that coordinate to the color of the design (like i did) , then sew a simple sash and cornerstone. or you can get more creative- you are only limited by your imagination. i like to keep my designs simple to showcase the shirts....

some think it's alot of work, but i think it's a great payoff for all the effort. it's a scrap book you can sleep under! :) plus, you never have to turn your favorite (ratty) tshirts into dust cloths!

couple of things- i do not reccomend using sports jerseys with the stacked numbers, sweat shirts, or knitted sweaters in tshirt quilts....i would suggest turning these items into a pillow.


  1. this is exactly how i did the t-shirt quilt i made for my sister. and i agree, uniform-sized blocks looks much better than all different sizes.

    here it is on my bed.

  2. And make sure that you iron the fusible with the stretch (crosswise) opposite the stretch of the tshirt.

  3. desert threads- if you use a knit stabilizer you have to be careful of that- but if you use a woven fusible stabilizer, it doesn't matter which way you iron the stabilizer to the back of the shirt.

  4. I'm quilting a tee-shirt quilt for my husband AWS! All old worn out "holy" grateful dead shirts. It's so soft and worn in. . he loves it! It's his birthday today. Thanks for the tute I'm planning on making a few more in the coming weeks.

  5. Shannon......I buy the cheapest fusible that Joann's carries. No sense in spending any more than I have to for something no one will ever know is there but me.

  6. I even saved the labels from the t-shirts and put them in some of the seams. They "flap" out and give it some dimension.
    Some t-shirts have pockets with emblems that I appliqued on the sashing too.

    I need to send you a picture of the label from my first t-shirt quilt. It's a pair of tiny little boy undies!


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