More and more people these days like the idea of putting their college/race/baby clothes into a quilt. I now have a pile of my boys clothes so that hopefully I can do the same…. Here are some tips and the process that I use. I also find this site to be very helpful with fabric yardage needed.
Some decisions to make before you begin:
- Do you want borders (sashing) between your squares?
- Do you want your squares to be all the same size?
- What size finished quilt do you want – lap, twin, double,…?
All of these decisions play a part in what materials you need!
- old clothes that you want to cut a part
- rotary cutter
- 16.5″ plexiglass template – Lowes will do this for you so don’t try it at home. We failed miserably cutting it ourselves…. The size of the template depends on the shirts you have also. You can go bigger or smaller depending upon your shirts. This will give you your square size before seams. Note: this isn’t necessary; I just find it speeds the process up. I use this template to cut the shirts apart.
- 15.5″ plexiglass template: I use this one to do the final cutting of my squares after the interfacing is on.
- interfacing: I really like Pellon SF101 which I buy by the bolt. I bought 2 bolts for this project
- fabric for sashing if needed
A 1/4″ seam is used for this whole process! I also find a walking foot to be very helpful when working on t-shirt quilts. It helps handle the bulk nicely.
- Lay your large 16.5″ template on top of your shirts and use it to cut the shirts apart. Determine the largest design you have as that is how big your squares should be. Note: you don’t have to have squares in your quilt. I will show you some finished quilts I have done at the end.
- Cut your interfacing 2″ bigger than your largest shirt. With this quilt I am showing you step by step, I cut the interfacing 16″ wide and used the length of the bolt for the length. I then placed it the longest way on the shirt.
- Adhere your interfacing to the back of each shirt either using a handheld iron or a heat press. If you use an iron, pick up your iron and put it down. Do not smooth it over the top of the interfacing.
- Using your smaller plexiglass template square up your shirts.
- Now it is time to arrange your squares! I try to make sure that a like colored shirt is not near a like colored shirt, i.e. there is no white shirt next to a white shirt in any direction.
- Once I get the go ahead from my customer, I cut the sashing. For this quilt, I cut the sashing 2″ wide x 15.5″ long. Pin it to each of the squares except the last one in each row.
- Now that you have the sashing attached to each square, you want to bring your stack of squares to your ironing board. Iron towards the sashing as the t-shirts are bulky and the seam presses nicer that way. If your emblem is big, you will want to use a piece of muslin to cover the emblem as you iron. You do not want to ruin a shirt by having the iron stick to it.
- Now pin each square to it’s neighbor and sew the columns together.
- Once the whole row is sewn, you will want to add the sashing underneath. For this quilt, it took 2 15″x w.o.f. (width of fabric) pieces. You want to join these two pieces at a 45 degree angle so that it is harder to see the seam. I call this mitering your seams.
- Lay one piece of fabric down on your ironing board. Lay the second piece on top with right sides together at a 90 degree angle.
- Make a 45 degree angle with that second piece of fabric and press this seam. Open the fabric up carefully holding onto it, and pin.
- Sew along this pressed line. Press the seam open and cut off the excess fabric.
- Now you have one long piece of sashing that you can attach to each of the rows of shirts except for the last one. Pin the sashing into place and cut it to the appropriate length.
- Once the sashing is attached to each row, you can sew the rows together.
- The last step is to create the outside borders. For the top and bottom borders, you will need 6 – 2.5″wide x w.o.f. strips sewn together in the manner above.
- Attach each strip to the bottom and top of the quilt with pins. When sewing these strips, start 1/4″ in from the top if you want mitered corners at the top. I reinforce these starting and stopping points. I also had a 3″ tail at the beginning and end of the quilt. These helps me to miter the corners.
- After you have sewn these on, cut the excess fabric off, but leave at least 3″ of fabric on either side of the quilt.
- You can use the leftover pieces from the border along with 4 – 2.5″ wide x w.o.f. strips. Sew them together as I did above.
- Attach these vertical strips to the quilt starting with 3″ of overhang and pin 1/4″ in from the top, making sure you also have a 3″ overhang at the bottom. Attach the borders to both sides.
- When you sew, start 1/4″ down from the top and stop 1/4″ from the bottom, which you can see in the picture above.
- Now you will want to miter your corners. This is the same technique as when you mitered your seams, but it may seem a little different.
- Take your horizontal border and make a 45 degree angle with the vertical border. You can do it the other way around also.
- Iron that angle.
- Fold your horizontal border up to your vertical border at a 45 degree angle while holding onto the borders. Pin on either side of the ironed seam.
- Next sew down that ironed line, starting at the 1/4″ seam from the two borders you added.
- Cut the excess fabric off and iron again!
- The top of your quilt is now done!
Here are some other quilts that I have done that don’t have borders and have different sized blocks.