Right now I’m working on a commission, a t-shirt quilt that includes what must be most every t-shirt this gal has ever owned. 🙂
It’s rather an interesting challenge, trying to get them all into a reasonably sized quilt. We’re skipping any sashing between blocks, as that would make it far too large to be allowed. It will be quite busy to look at, but full of memories.
In case you’ve never made a t-shirt quilt, they’re actually very simple. Fusible interfacing is pressed onto the wrong side of the t-shirt design to stabilize it. Then blocks are cut out and treated as quilt blocks.
This is a Tanzanian memory quilt I made last fall, you can read the whole post here.
For the quilt I’m working on now I got around the “way too many t-shirts” problem by cutting them into three different sizes, 6.5″ squares, 12.5″ x 6.5″ rectangles and 12.5″ squares. Two of the smaller squares sewn together are the size of one rectangle, and two of the rectangles sewn together are the size of one large square.
As you can see from the photo above, it’s very helpful to have a design wall to help you sort out just how many completed large squares you will have. If you don’t have a design wall, find a large table or some empty floor space to lay things out.
It’s also good to have a couple shirt that will serve as “filler” for those odd areas. Thankfully my client had some old jammies and two tie-dyed t-shirts that worked perfectly for that. And here it is, with the all the squares sewn together. Did I mention she had a LOT of t-shirts?
We had two shirts with designs that had to be cut larger than 12.5″ square. I solved this problem by making one row that was wider than the rest and filled in the gaps with our filler pajamas and tie-dye. You hardly notice it in all the busyness. (It’s the second row from the left.)
If you want to make your own t-shirt quilt here are a few tips:
- Use a design wall or large floor area to plan your layout
- Save leftover bits of t-shirt until you are all done. You may need them to fill in the top corners (such as in the blue & white UMass section) or make filler blocks, such as the green/red/yellow section in the top left.
- Use a light to medium weight fusible interfacing. If you use the heavy weight stuff the sewing becomes more difficult.
- If you have one or can borrow a steam press (such as this Steam Press), this is an excellent time to do so. It makes the fusing go faster and be more thorough.
- Be careful when pressing the lettering on t-shirts. Some of it will smear and/or gum up your iron if you try to press over it. Iron-off hot iron cleaner is a great product to use if this happens.
- Use the leftover backs of your t-shirts to protect your ironing surface. Place the piece to be fused right side down on top of the scrap t-shirt, then place the fusible (fusible side down, please) on that. If after pressing you find some of the lettering has transferred to the scrap t-shirt, you can just toss it and grab another one.
- To reduce bulk press the seams open.
- Don’t even THINK about hand quilting. Plan to machine quilt, or better yet, just tie it.
- Each block will stand out better if framed by sashing (as in the Tanzania quilt) but you can squeeze in lots more memories if you don’t sash.
T-shirt quilts are great for graduations and are an especially good gift for that difficult-to-buy-for guy.
Have fun preserving those memories!