This week I started working on a t-shirt quilt for my daughter. It’s hard to believe she’s graduating from high school next month! I very much doubt that I’ll finish the quilt before she graduates but we’ll see.
I recently got her to clean out her closets and clothes and she added more t-shirts to the pile. We’ve been collecting them for quite a while and I know there’s no way we can fit them all into a quilt (well, we could do shirts on both sides of the quilt but we probably won’t). This is the one thing I don’t like about t-shirt quilts – the shirts are all different sizes (if you’ve been saving them as your child grows). I never really know how it’s going to look; I lay out the shirt blocks and try to figure out what sashing or blocks to put in between to make everything come out square. It’s always a surprise what we end up with!
So, first step is to cut your t-shirts. I usually cut the front or the logo off as we discard them and then I just have to save that little bit. It saves space over the years. Obviously you would want a square with the logo centered but I’ve found that a lot of shirts have the logo up high on the shirt so that’s almost impossible to do. You end up cutting into the neck or sleeve seams and that’s just awkward. Do your best to cut out as much of the front/logo as you can. You can always trim up and square things up later. If you’re dealing with adult t-shirts, you’ll have an easier time of getting a nice square and probably be able to get everything the same size. Our shirts were all different sizes.
The next step is to add some stabilizer to help keep the shirts from stretching all over the place. You’ll want to use a lightweight fusible interfacing. You can buy it by the yard or in a package. I got 5 yards and it should be barely enough. Follow the manufacturers directions and iron it to each of the t-shirt squares. I usually square up the shirt blocks AFTER I iron on the interfacing because it stops them from stretching and it’s just easier.
Next we’ll want to square things up. Sometimes it’s easier to do this after you lay everything out. Maybe you can group some together that are near the same size; cut some the same size, etc. This part takes me the longest time. I lay them out; I move them around; I decide what would be a good complimentary color for sashing or other blocks. I decide if I’m going to add letters or applique. When I made my son’s quilt, he wasn’t ready to cut up his rowing shirts but that was a big hobby of his in school so I wanted to add a rowing applique.
My daughter has given up just about all her Irish dance shirts but doesn’t want to cut up her cheerleading shirts so I may try to add some sort of cheerleading theme. It seems like my son had a lot more shirts so maybe this quilt will be smaller.
Next week, I’ll lay the t-shirt blocks out and go on to the next step…