T-Shirt Quilt

My Completed Quilt
The back fabric

FOUR YEARS ago I set off to make a t-shirt quilts of my own. I was moving out of my college house and had all these t-shirts I never worn but couldn’t imagine tossing. I would work on it then set it down, move cross country, travel the world or break my sewing machine. It was one thing after another but finally this summer I finished it!

T-shirt quilts are a great way to preserve memories and moments from the past. There are lots of ways to create your own t-shirt quilt. Here is a basic how-to from goosetracks.com. You can follow these instructions or use them for a basic guide. I didn’t follow any instructions and just cut up a bunch of shirt sewed them together and tried to make it work as a rectangle best I could then sewed a rectangle piece of fabric as a backing to try and make it all come together. There is no batting in mine because I wanted a lighter weight option.
Good luck and I hope it doesn’t take you four years!

“The past is our definition.  We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it.”Wendell Berry
GooseTracks T-shirt Quilt Instructions-
They are based on a 14 1/2″ finished square T-shirt block. First, check all your tee shirts to make sure that the designs will fit into a 14″ square. If they won’t you can either crop the designs or make the squares larger – just modify the instructions to the dimensions you need. Remember, all the T-shirt squares must be the same size. All seam allowances are 1/4″. If you’re not sure of the correct size, determine the largest design and cut all interfacing 2″ larger than that size, then trim as needed.
Sizes: all sizes include 1 1/2″ sashing and a 2″ border and are based on a 14 1/2″ finished t-shirt block

12 shirts will make a throw-size quilt, approx. 48″ x 64″ – 3 across x 4 down.
20 shirts will make a twin size quilt, 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, approx 110″ x 96″ – 7 across x 6 down.

Step 1 – Select Shirts 
Step 2 – Fusible Interfacing – Each shirt must be backed with non-woven fusible interfacing to prevent it from stretching. Buy enough fusible interfacing to make a 17″ square for each T-shirt. Select good quality, light weigh interfacing. Fusible interfacing needs to be non-woven, glued only on one side.
Step 3 – Fabric for Sashing/Border/Binding – Sashing strips form a decorative grid between each T-shirt block. Plan on 2″ sashing 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. Calculate the amount needed and be sure to wash it before you use it – you want to be sure that the color won’t run and that the fabric will not shrink after the quilt is finished.
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.
Step 5 – Fusing – Cut interfacing into 17″ squares – one for each shirt. Don’t piece the interfacing, it will show through. Position the interfacing with the resin side down on the wrong side of the t-shirt, trying to center the design as much as possible. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for fusing to the back of each T-shirt. Use a press cloth so you don’t get any glue on your iron.  Beware of wrinkles – once cool they won’t come out!
Step 6 – Cutting the Squares – This is where you cut your t-shirt square. Square up each fused shirt to 15″.  Make sure you center the design and lettering – measure twice – cut once! Cut with scissors or rotary cutter.
Step 7 – Arranging – Lay out squares on the floor and arrange. Alternate light/dark, busy/not so busy. Make sure the blocks can be read from the desired direction.
Step 8 – Completing the Quilt – add sashing – Sashing strips are the horizontal and vertical strips between blocks. The horizontal strips should measure 15″ in length x 2″ wide. Cut enough sashing strips to add to all the t-shirts except the bottom row. Then sew horizontal strips to the bottom of each block, except the blocks in the bottom row. Sew blocks together to form columns.
After all the blocks are sewn into columns, make long 2″ sashing strips slightly longer than length of each column. Sew the 2″ sashing strips onto the inside edge of the completed columns, one strip to each column (don’t sew a sashing strip to the outside edges of the columns) and sew the columns together.  Cut off excess fabric.  Press toward sashing.
Cut border strips 2 1/2″ wide and add as desired. If you need to do a final pressing, make sure you put a cloth over the shirts – the designs may smear if the iron is placed directly onto them.
Finish – Layer backing batting and quilt top. Baste or safety pin together. If you have some experience machine quilting you can quilt your quilt or you can tie it to hold the layers together. Bind your quilt and be sure to add a label.


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