Fall T-Shirt Quilt Tutorial

This might be the perfect fall project... the t-shirt quilt.  First of all, you get to recycle all of those old college/school/sports T-shirts taking up too much space in your drawers.  Second, you can take it with you to all of your chilly fall sporting events and show support for your school/team.  And third, talk about warm and comfy... it's a blanket made of all of your super soft well-worn t-shirts!  What could be better?

Now for the really cool, inspiring, "I can do that" moment.  This quilt was made by one of my friends from high school, Brooke, (reconnected through myspace back when myspace was cool) who never sewed before (unless you count 7th grade home ec... like myself). No really. I got an email from her one day saying she was interested in making a quilt and what should she buy... including what kind of machine.  After I wrote back a novel of an email listing everything I owned for sewing, she emailed me back a couple months later with this!  If that's not an if-she-can-do-it, I-can-do-it moment, I don't know what is.

Ready to make your own?  (Huge thanks to Brooke for sending me all of her step by step photos and tips... and for letting me blog about it)

• T-shirts.  The amount of t-shirts will depend on what size quilt you would like to make. Brooke did 5 shirts across and 6 shirts down, making her quilt approximately full size if you were to put it on a bed. Also, if you were to use the fronts and backs of your shirts, you would need fewer shirts.
• Fusible Interfacing.  You need this because t-shirts are really stretchy and thin.  The interfacing will make everything much more stable and easier to cut into squares.  Get the kind that only has glue on one side. You will need enough to back each of your t-shirt squares plus a little trim excess.
• Large panel of fleece for the back of your quilt.  It needs to be slightly larger than your finished quilt front. You could use a thinner and lighter fabric, but go with fleece for a warmer quilt.
• A sheet of batting the same size or larger than your quilt front.
• 15"x15" Square Quilter's Ruler (or whatever size you want your squares to be)
• All your regular sewing crap... machine, thread, pins, scissors, rotary cutter, rulers...

Step 1: Gather your t-shirts...
and cut the portion of them out that you want to use.  Make sure to cut your shirts slightly larger than the desired finished square size. (AKA, slightly larger than the square ruler you are going to use to trim your t-shirt pieces to size).

Step 2: Iron fusible interfacing, following the manufacturer's directions, to each of those slightly larger pieces you just cut out.
Some fusible interfacings require you to iron them on using a damp towel (above).  Follow the directions yours comes with.

Step 3: Trim your pieces, now backed with interfacing, using your square ruler.  After this step they should all be perfect squares (okay, somewhat close), all the same size.

Step 4: Lay out those squares, side by side, until you find an order you like. Keep going until your entire quilt is arranged on the floor... or giant table if you have one that big.

Step 5: Go row by row, sewing each square it its neighbor, right sides together, using about a 1/4" seam allowance. When this step is done you will have several long strips.

Step 6: Sew your strips from step 5 together, right sides together, using a 1/4" seam allowance again. Ta dah! You have a quilt top.

Step 7: Make your sandwich. Lay your fleece out on a big flat surface. (If using a fabric with a right side and a wrong side, make sure your right side is facing down) Also good to point out, Brooke had to sew two large pieces of fleece together to make one piece large enough to cover he whole back. Lay your batting on top of that (the meat). Lay your quilt top on top of that, right side up.

Step 8: Baste.  You need to stick your layers together somehow so that when you start sewing, they don't shift all over the place.  You can use fusible batting like I did on my meandering quilt, basting glue spray, pins, etc.

Step 9: Quilt!  Brooke used a sort of zig zag diagonal pattern that looked like this.

She applied tape in lines across the front of her quilt and sewed beside them as a guide.  She has also warned me, and I quote, "IMPORTANT:  Don't sew on the tape." Got it?

Step 10: Add your binding.  Brooke used the same fleece that she used for the back.  And since fleece doesn't fray, you don't even have to fold it under twice : )  I like that idea.


Optional:  Did you notice two of Brooke's squares are made up of nine smaller squares?  That's because she used the small pocket sized design from the fronts of her shirts to make those.  She used a 5 1/2" square ruler as her guide to cut those tiny squares out. Then sewed the tiny squares  together, just like you would the rest of the quilt top, to make a full sized square.  A little more work, but a really cool effect and a great way to add interest.

I hope you are inspired!  Read your sewing machine manual, ask the ladies at the fabric store, Google, search youtube, or email fellow sewing bloggers... worked for Brooke : )