Kayla’s Finished T-Shirt Quilt

A guest post from Kayla…

easy t shirt quilt how to make

I recently finished a t-shirt quilt and it wasn’t as horrible as I expected. I thought I’d drop in and share what I learned.

My assistant principal recently asked me to put together a t-shirt quilt for my retiring principal. I thought it was a great idea and immediately agreed before I remembered that I hate making t-shirt quilts.

This is my third t-shirt quilt and every time I commit to making one I regret taking it on. They are a crowd favorite but a quilter’s nightmare. This time, however, it was quite bearable. I’m learning and getting a little better with each try and I might not cringe if a (very, very, dear) friend asks for one in the future.

Part of why this quilt was bearable (and maybe even enjoyable?) was because I had the great help of my friend and paraprofessional, Kelly, applying the interfacing. I found an interfacing I really like. In the past I have worked with knit interfacing but it provided a bit too much stretch. This time I used a fusible midweight (here’s a link to the exact product at Joann) and I’m sooo pleased with the result.

Here’s how we made the t-shirts easy to work with.

The interfacing is 20″ wide. I cut it into 13″ widths and gave them to Kelly. She centered them on the back of the design and pressed in place. I used this Omnigrid ruler to trim the shirts to 12.5″ squares.

In some instances, for smaller designs, we cut the interfacing into 9″ or 7″ lengths to trim to 8.5″ or 6.5″, but we always kept the width trimmed to 12.5″. I had one row of larger designs that was 16.5″ tall and I combined them with the 8.5″ designs pieced together.

It seems like a lot of interfacing waste but it is very important that the stretch of the interfacing is opposite the stretch of the knit t-shirt. Even with the waste, this is a pretty inexpensive project. The t-shirts were free and the interfacing (purchased with a 40% off coupon) and backing/binding was the only fabric cost.

T-shirt quilts can be challenging to lay out because of the wide variety of colors so I ignored the colors all together and stuck to the values instead. Here is a tutorial I’ve done to figure out value that I use for my scrappy afghans.

close up t shirt quilt easy how to make

I ordered the backing fabric from Quilted Twins for just $25. The quilting was done by a local-to-me person because I needed a fast turnaround in time for the retirement party. I think she did a great job! She does all-over designs and put the binding on too.

So, quick recap on how to enjoy making t-shirt quilts:

  • Use interfacing and make sure the stretch of the interfacing is opposite the stretch of the knits
  • Cut the interfacing slightly larger than the finished block
  • Get a ruler the exact size of the finished block
  • Don’t mess around with border fabric. It’s best to keep the same thickness of fabric throughout.

Overall I’m very pleased with the finished product and won’t be hesitant to make more t-shirt quilts in the future. My principal really appreciated the quilt too, which is the most important part.

16 thoughts on “Kayla’s Finished T-Shirt Quilt

  1. Donna T

    It looks great Kayla!! I haven’t made a t-shirt quilt but have heard so many horror stories about the process!!!

  2. Roxanne

    Great quilt! I’m surprised that I didn’t even miss the border and love the thought of not adding one. It’s all about the tees and looks bold!

  3. Joy

    Love it! I made one with sashimi’s and all. It turned out fine…my friend was happy so all was good! But, I too will not do another.

  4. Colleen Pflieger

    I like to do them to make me be creative. I have done several. But never paid attention to the stretch of the interfacing! I will check that out next time! But I have made two without interfacing and did fine.

  5. Donna Pheneger

    I’ve always wanted to make a t-shirt quilt…it’s nice to know it’s not as hard as it seems. Happy to hear she liked it.

  6. Ruth

    Hmm, I just completed my fourth quilt using t-shirts and scraps of t-shirts, and NEVER used interfacing at all. I DO use normal fabric as backing though, to counteract any stretchiness of the t-shirt fabric front. None of my quilts were requested or paid for. I made the first one using my daughter’s t-shirt fronts. I concentrated on making the columns all the same size, adding in the smaller logos as needed. The second one was of large “brick” size pieces leftover. The third was of squares and bricks, the last was of squares, bricks and strippy squares – all t-shirt fabric. Now the t-shirt fabric is all gone. I have no idea why I felt so driven to make these couch quilts, after making the king size first one. I guess I rather enjoy putting thrifty ideas together.

  7. Robby H.

    This looks great. I’m just getting ready to sew up a t-shirt quilt and wish I had realized there was a direction to the stabilizer I used, I just didn’t notice it. Thanks for the tips tho.

  8. Judy

    Very nice job, Kayla. I have made several memory quilt tee shirts. A good friend makes them as graduation presents. She told me how to put the interfacing on with the stretch going the opposite of the stretch in the shirts. The worst part is preparing the tee shirts. I also got a template cut at Lowe’s to cut the shirts uniformly. I use sashing ,corner stones and borders to make one using 12 shirts.

  9. Melissa

    Thanks, Kayla. These sound like great tips. I’ve never made t shirt quilts but a relative just asked me to make one and another one with soccer jerseys…..do you think the interfacing that you recommended would work well for soccer jersey fabrics?

  10. Lisa B

    The memory quilt looks wonderful! Excellent job! My brother sent me a box of his shirts to make one. That must have been 5 years ago and they’re still in the box. I read blogs like this and think I really should get to that. I think I’m afraid of ruining something that’s not mine, his shirts. I guess I just need to go for it. Thank you for the inspiration.

  11. Whitney

    Oh my gosh! I used to teach with your principal’s wife! I didn’t know you taught there!!! I’m almost certain he loves it more than you’ll ever know! That community is such an awesome one! Great job with the quilt! Hope you’re enjoying the last of your summer!

  12. ShirleyR

    Kayla, I loved your t-shirt quilt! It’s the nicest I have seen, the color arrangement is so very pleasing to the eye. You did such a good job, and the quilting is very nice too. Your retiring principal should be so pleased with it! I can imagine that making one of these would be difficult because of the fabric being stretchy, so thank you for your information on the batting you used and the tutorial. Such a wonderful memory quilt!

  13. The Joyful Quilter

    Great job, Kayla!! I just finished my niece’s T-quilt today. I understand that feeling you get when agreeing to make ANOTHER one. I usually have that moment of regret, too! Unlike the product you use, I use the lightest weight, fusible, NON-woven interfacing. I like not having to worry about the direction to the stretch.

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