A guest post from Kayla…
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.
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.