T-shirt Quilt DIY

I love graphic tees! I had a stack of them that had worn out, had stains, or weren’t very comfortable that I couldn’t bear to part with because, nostalgia! I kept telling myself that I’d make a t-shirt quilt with them. I’ve been saving t-shirts for this quilt for over 15 years. Still no quilt.

Here’s the thing: to do it the “right” way, you need to use woven fusible interfacing to stabilize the t-shirt material, then sew them together with sashing or boarders of some kind, and then you quilt and bind it like a regular quilt. During the Great Sewing Room Clean-Up of 2019, I came across all of those t-shirts and was reminded that I should really make that quilt someday. Then I came across a couple of t-shirt material twin sheets I’d been saving for an undetermined project, and started thinking…

What if I just cut the t-shirts into squares, sewed them together with no interfacing or sashing, skipped the batting, and just used the t-shirt sheets for the backing. It would break all of the “rules” for t-shirt quilts, but they would be nice summer blankets for the living room. I decided that in this case, done was better than perfect.

I grabbed my 12 1/2″ quilting square, centered the t-shirt design, and cut around them with my rotary cutter. I had 40 squares, so I made two t-shirt quilts. One of them, I just grabbed whatever square was next and sewed it onto the row then sewed the rows together without paying much attention to placement. The second one, I laid out the squares and then sewed them together in a particular order. Honestly, I like the way both turned out, so pick which method you like better.

I find that sewing knit material with the even-feed foot on my machine keeps the stretching to a minimum, but you can skip it if you don’t have one or don’t like using it with knits. I did one quilt with a 1/4″ seam allowance and one with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Either one works, just be sure that you keep your seam allowance consistent through the whole quilt. Don’t switch halfway through or it will make things turn out wonky.

After sewing the blocks in a 4 by 5 square layout, I spread the t-shirt sheet on the table with the right side up. Then I layered the quilt on top of it with the right side down. Make sure the right sides of the quilt and backing are touching each other. Pin well along the edge and then sew along the outside using your preferred seam allowance. Leave about an 8″ opening so you can turn the whole thing right side out.

Once you’ve sewed the edges, and turned the quilt right side out, pin the opening closed and top-stitch around the whole quilt. I prefer top-stitching about 1/4″ from the edge, but use what you like best. If you don’t catch the edges of the opening in the top-stitching, you’ll need to hand-sew that closed.

Next, you’ll be sewing “in the ditch” or on the line where the squares meet. This will sort of hold the blanket together while you’re using it. You can do this without pinning the two layers together first. However, I still had some shifting of the backing when I tried this without pinning. It’s not bad, but the quilt where I used safety pins along the edges of the blocks definitely worked better.

And you’re done! This is one of those projects you can easily do in a weekend or just a few evenings. You could make a bigger quilt or smaller one, but I found this size to be perfect for curling up under while watching a movie. Camo was happy to test out this one hot off the sewing machine! I’d just packed up a couple of our winter quilts, so the timing on these was perfect. Nothing says “warm weather” like t-shirts, or a quilt made of them, right?

If you end up making a t-shirt quilt of your own, head over to the Teish Knits Facebook page and share a photo. I’d love to see other examples!

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