T-Shirt Quilts: Generating an Estimate

I have made two t-shirt quilts in my life.  I blogged about them, considered putting up a page on my site advertising them as a service, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.  Figuring out a pricing structure held me up.

IMG_3147.jpgLast week a new client reached out to me, asking if I could make her a queen sized t-shirt quilt by Christmas.  I was surprised, and a little appalled initially.  I was already considering myself pretty busy before Christmas.  But, I decided that I can fit it in without too much stress, and how nice would it be to bring in a little more income before the holiday?

Pricing Sheet

I use a pricing sheet from Molli Sparkles to figure out how much to charge for my work.  Molli is kind enough to share it for free, and I find it to be a huge help.  I present it to clients so they can see where my numbers come from, and hopefully not be shocked by what I’m asking for.  I have changed out some items – I have “overhead” rather than “profit”, and I charge for quilting by the square inch rather than hourly, the same way I do for my longarm clients.

It is important to know how much time things will take when working with this sheet.  I’ve had to start paying attention to how long projects take me this year.  It is a different way to work, but it was very helpful for turning a hobby into a business.

Materials Estimate

With patterned quilts this is easy.   Just go off of your fabric requirements in the pattern.  T-shirt quilts take more math.  This one was fairly easy.  The client wants a layout of 4 x 6 t-shirts, and would like the squares cut out at 18″, and a 2″ border.  For a quick estimate, I didn’t worry about if that was a finished or raw square size.  The client doesn’t want any sashing, so I only had to figure out a border fabric.  The quilt top should measure about 72″ x 108″.    Adding two inches to either side will bring it out to 76″ x 112″.

There are calculators online to figure out how much fabric you will need.  I decided I would need about 2.5 yards to cover the border and binding.  For backing I estimated 3.5 yards.  At the shop I ordered an extra 1/2 yard of each, but only because they are grey solids.  There is always room for grey in my stash.  If it were a fabric I didn’t care for I would be more careful with my estimates.

Don’t forget to price in the interfacing.  I use Pellon SF101 for my quilts.  There are other brands, but I can buy this one by the bolt at Joann Fabrics.  It comes in bolts that are 20″ wide by 10 yards long.  That is 360″ x 20″.  With an 18″ block, I will need 12 yards of interfacing.

Getting to Yes

The first two clients I gave estimates to declined to hire me, but the third time was the charm.  Yay!  Having someone willing to pay me what I want to earn is a great feeling.

Getting turned down the first two times was mildly disappointing, but I got over it quickly.  I just had to remind myself that I don’t want to settle for making minimum wage or less.  People who hire me to make a quilt are not doing me a favor.  That is something we all need to remember.  I try to be very nice if a client says “no”.  I understand if you don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for a quilt.  I get it.  It doesn’t hurt my feelings.

I met up with my client at Gotham Quilts.  They have a good selection of wide backs (my favorite), and being able to pick out border and backing fabrics in person with the client was great.  I like to do business with friends whenever possible.  Plus, supporting the local quilt shop that supports me is just good sense.

I will be posting a step by step video tutorial this week as I make the quilt.  T-shirt quilts are pretty easy, but a lot of people are intimidated by them.  Maybe I can help make it easier.


I don’t have many photos to use for this part.  How about a “behind the scenes”?  This is my video studio.  I take over the dining room when I’m filming.  I’m all ready with the shirts, cutting supplies, interfacing, and ironing stuff.

Have you made any t-shirts quilts?  How did it go for you?

T-Shirt Quilts: Prepare the Shirts

T-Shirt Quilts: Part 3 – Layout




12 thoughts on “T-Shirt Quilts: Generating an Estimate

  1. I’ve made 1 tshirt quilt and I did not enjoy it. I dreaded ironing on the interfacing, I dreaded the cutting and sewing of it, I dreaded the quilting of it, yikes! Sorry! My sister wanted it for her son’s graduation. My sister does not sew so she has no idea the time and effort involved in things. It turned out fine, but I’m in not hurry to make another one. I love to sew and quilt, but tshirt quilts are not my favorite.


  2. I am not a fan of t-shirt quilts. I do know they require extra work stabilizing the fabric so it can be quilted.
    You should stand your ground on your pricing. You’ve made the investment into the major machinery and I am sure you have calculated your hourly rate.


  3. I have only made one TShirt quilt, and it was a very special one. I found that the sizes of the prints and the shirt sizes varied quite a bit and it was hard to get a consistent “size” from them as a result, so I just went with what I could get and ended up with a fun layout (that required Y Seams and all). Overall, I’m glad I tried it but I probably won’t go seeking them out to do in the future. Congratulations on having a client say yes!


  4. I made one T-Shirt quilt for a friend who’s son was graduating from college. I did not charge her; just suggested we go out for margherittas and nachos (which never happened). My only problem was I let my friend pick out the thread and she chose a rayon. I had no idea how badly rayon thread breaks when going through the rubbery print on T-Shirts. I will probably never make one again. For me, they the creative boost I like from quilting.


  5. I’ve made a few, not as tricky as I thought they’d be; however, they are time consuming. Happy for you that you have a client that values your time and talent.


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