T SHIRT QUILT PATTERN


T shirt quilt pattern

T shirt quilt pattern

Who doesn’t have a pile of tee shirts stashed away somewhere?  I have loads of them in all shapes and sizes – some little girly ones that my daughter wore a very long time ago, some as holiday reminders and some that the boys wore that carry particular memories for me.  In this t shirt quilt pattern I want to show you how you can use the motifs from these t shirts to make a quilt no matter what the size or colour of the original tee shirts.  When making this particular tshirt quilt I have used eleven tee shirts and the final quilt measures 41″ by 45″.

Cutting requirements for the T shirt quilt

Very difficult to give these as it varies according to the size and number of tee shirts that you use.  In addition to the T shirts I used about 2 yards of interfacing, probably about 1 yard of sashing fabric and about 1 yard of lining fabric.  In addition you will need wadding and backing fabric.

Selecting the T shirts

Select the tee shirts for the quilt

Select the tee shirts for the quilt

I chose the Tshirts that held good memories for me, regardless of size or shape, and cut the squares or rectangles of the motif from them.  Cut them generously so that you can trim down if necessary.  Back these motifs with fusible interfacing of some kind.  I have used bondaweb because I happened to have that handy, but anything lightweight that will stabilise the tee shirt will do.  The aim is to stop the fabric stretching.  What I actually found was that some of the motifs that were already stretched settled down nice and flat when I had ironed the interfacing on.

 

Back each motif with interfacing and fabric

Back each motif with interfacing and fabric

This may sound like belt and braces, but I then put a backing of ordinary fabric on the back of each motif as well.  Not only does this give more stability to the tee shirt fabric, but it also means that you will not be sewing directly on to that fabric – when you sew the sashing it helps.  I know it’s an extra step but it works for me.

 

Laying out the T shirt quilt

Lay out the tee shirt motifs

Lay out the tee shirt motifs

Choose sashing fabric

Choose sashing fabric

Find somewhere large – I use the kitchen floor – and lay out the motifs.  Lay the motifs out in columns.  Broadly, I have put the larger motifs together in one column and smaller motifs in different columns.

Choose a fairly neutral sashing fabric as you have such a variety of colours to match in with.

 

Make the columns for the Tshirt quilt

Add the sashing

Add the sashing

Start with the column containing the largest tee shirts.  Add a 1.1/2″ strip of sashing on either side of the widest motif.  Measure the total width including the sashing.  This is your column width and the other tee shirts in this column need to be made the same width by varying the sashing width.  For example, if the column width is 13″ (based on the largest motif with sashing) and the next motif is 9″ wide, the sashing on this second motif will need to be 2.1/2″ wide.  This is 9″ for the motif and 5″ for the two widths of sashing and 1″ seam allowance for the two seams.  When the sashing is sewn on, the total width will be 13″.  If you prefer not to do the maths, you can always just add a wider strip of sashing on each side and then trim the block to 13″ wide.

 

Sew triangles in the corners

Sew triangles in the corners

Trim the excess fabric

Trim the excess fabric

Continue adding sashing to all the motifs to make them the same width within each column.  I have added triangles to one tee shirt just to show you a variation.  Cut four 3.1/2″ squares and mark a line along the diagonal on the wrong side.  Sew the squares to the motif along the diagonals.  Cut the excess triangles above the seam of the tee shirt and the sashing fabric, leaving the backing fabric in place.

 

 

Fold the triangle to complete the corner

Fold the triangle to complete the corner

Finger press the seams

Finger press the seams

When you fold the remaining triangle over the seam you will have added a brown triangle to the corners of the tee shirt which just gives a little variety to your blocks.  Now you can add the sashing to the sides of this block.

I find that the safest way to press the blocks is to finger press the seam on the front and then press the block from the back so that you don’t end up scorching the T shirt motif.

 

Complete each column

Complete each column

The next step is to sew sashing above and below the motifs to complete each column.  Sew 1.1/2″ strips of sashing between the blocks of the longest column of the tee shirt quilt and sew the blocks together to complete the column.  Repeat with the other columns – I have four motifs in these columns which means I need three strips of sashing between them.  Measure the total length of the first column.  The other columns need to be made this length – length of the four motifs plus three sashing strips plus 3″ for seam allowances.

 

Finishing the T shirt quilt

Sew sashing to the top and bottom of the T shirt quilt

Sew sashing to the top and bottom of the T shirt quilt

Sew the blocks together within each column and then sew the columns together.  Add a 1.1/2″ strip of sashing across the top and cottom of the tee shirt quilt to complete the quilt top.

The layering, quilting and binding when making a tshirt quilt are the same as for any quilt and these steps can be found towards the bottom of the beginner quilting page.  For quilting you could stitch in the ditch around each motif or you could tie the quilt or perhaps sew buttons or beads on to secure the three layers together.

 

Here’s the video:

If you’re wondering what to do with the rest of the T shirt, you could always make a T shirt sleeve scarf.

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Comments

  1. Hi Rose

    my my you are getting fancy over there – Ive never been a t shirt wearer but I have other things I could cut up – look out world here I come-lol

    • Hi Eileen. I’ve got loads of tee shirts because I couldn’t throw away some of my daughter’s pretty little ones – can’t believe how small they are when I look at them now.

  2. Hi Rose,This is a great idea,I have lots of “memory “T shirts that I can’t bear to throw away,but they really are to tatty and misshapen to wear.So this project is certainly on my hit list.So pleased you had a good week,and was able to combine a visit with your daughter and the quilt exhibition and the talk,a real joy. Kind Regards Carole

    • I felt the same way, Carole. That’s why I had a huge bag of tee shirts – I couldn’t bear to throw them away. Making a quilt lets you keep them without the children telling you not to be soft!

  3. Trish Tarbuck says:

    Hi Rose,
    This is a fabulous idea and as you say full of memories. I am glad you enjoyed your week and you got to see one of your children I bet you are still laughing about Jennie’s antics.

  4. Betty McAndrews says:

    T-Shirt Quilt: What do you do with shirts that have the “plastic like” pictures that can’t be ironed?

    • I used a couple of those in the quilt. I only ever ironed on the back and that was through first interfacing and then interfacing plus lining fabric. Worked a treat.

  5. I have saved several tutorials on making a T-shirt quilts, but this is the most detailed, easiest to understand lesson. Not surprised as you ALWAYS provide the best instructions. Thank you!

  6. Denise Tree says:

    What a brilliant idea. Now I need to ransack everyone’s wardrobes to see what I can use. Thank you for such a clever upcycling idea.

    • Thanks, Denise. It certainly makes a good memory quilt – I enjoyed looking through my daughter’s tee shirts again after all these years.

      • so glad I joined your newsletter and contact. What wonderful ideas you have Rose, thank you so much for the T-shirt idea, that is absolutely excellent.

  7. Hi Rose. I can’t thank you enough for this pattern PLUS the video. It is awesome. I’ve been promising my son a tee shirt quilt for 3 years. I got as far as cutting them out. putting on the stabilizing fusing & buying the background & washing fabric. I got stuck on how to make the columns & rows straight & even. I can finally finish it! I am so happy. Thank you for your help on ‘sea’s many things. Jude

    • Thanks, Jude. I should think your tee shirt stash has grown over those three years. You are far enough forward that it shouldn’t take you too long to finish the quilt now.

  8. Rose, What a fantastic idea. Your quilt looks lovely.

    Thanks as always for the free patterns and videos.
    Yvonne

  9. What a fantastic idea Rose. I just wish I had kept enough tee shirts. Oh well, I can start from now on and I do have a couple hidden away!!
    Hope the sun is shining on you…it was pretty terrible for the ICC Champions Trophy that I watched ball for ball.

    • Hi Judi. Glad you liked the quilt. I am so pleased to have used up some of my tee shirt stash! Yes, the weather didn’t help the cricket much, but it’s lovely at the moment.

  10. Hi, my husband gave me a similar idea to this – only using teatowels we have collected from different places. I will use your idea of the fusible interfacing and sashings.. now I can put his idea into play and see what I come up with. This technique looks great – again. Love your site and ideas !

    • That’s a great idea, Jan. What a clever husband you have! Tea towels should be easier than tee shirts as they are more regular. A super memory quilt to remind you of your travels.

  11. Linda Tomlin says:

    Hi Rose,
    I have nearly finished a quilt made from old blouses that no longer fit me and i have also made cushion covers from quilt covers saving the planet and money

    • Great ideas, Linda. It’s amazing how much fabric you can cut from discarded clothes. They also have memories, don’t they?

  12. Pat Miller says:

    Rose, I don’t think I will ever make a t-shirt quilt, but I like the way you explained the sashing. I knew that there was a way to figure it out, but you made it so simple, even I could understand it. I love watching your videos. Keep up the good work!! I am mostly a “wanna be” quilter. I have made several baby quilts and have material for a twin and a king patriotic quilt. Just not brave enough to cut yet. Again, thanks for the valuable information.
    Pat

    • Thanks, Pat. I’m glad you found the tutorial helpful. Good luck when you start on the twin and king quilts – don’t be nervous, just take it one step at a time.

  13. I can’t keep up with you, Rose. What will you think of next? This was great! I get such a kick out of watching your step by step tutorials. Question: Will you be sewing in the ditch around the blocks or will you meander quilt? How about the binding?

    • Hi Claire. Glad you like it. Binding the T shirt quilt will be as for any quilt since the binding will be sewn to the sashing. Quilting: I’m inclined to say tie or use buttons for safety, but I might have a try at quilting the actual tee shirts and see how it goes. I’ll add a note to one of the emails when I have reached that stage.

  14. Rose, What a brilliant idea! I have heaps of T-shirts that we no longer wear but cannot bear to throw out; now I know what to do with them. Thank you for your inspiration.

    • Thanks, Marion. I suffer from the same problem – all those clothes that I can’t bear to throw away. Making quits with them makes me feel that I’m keeping them.

  15. Brilliant, I just wish I had kept all the lovely t.shirts my children have worn over the years from many different countries we have lived in, including Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Canada to name but a few. Also the Kennedy space Centre T.shirt that my now 36 year old son wore as a 3 year old. It was on a teddy bear for years but got thrown out by his partner by mistake……

  16. what a nice idea. I like it. thank you.

  17. Hi Rose,
    Just a couple months ago, I helped my college-bound granddaughter put together a high-school memories t-shirt quilt. She pulled 25 – 30 shirts from high school sports, classes, excursions, etc. and made a large enough quilt to use on her queen-size mattress. This was her very first sewing/sewing machine/quilt project and it came out very well-done. She’s a fast learner and the envy of her housemates!

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