T-Shirt Quilts: Prepare the Shirts

Are you ready to follow along as I turn a pile of t-shirts into a snuggly quilt?

I suggest washing your t-shirts before starting.  This client washed them before bringing them to me – that was very much appreciated.  These shirts were brand new, so the wash eliminated a lot of that new t-shirt smell.  I’ve worked with some older t-shirts that also benefitted from a good wash.

img_5173.jpgGather your supplies:

  • T-shirts
  • Pellon SF 101 interfacing

You will also need fabrics for sashing (if using), border, backing and binding.  I like to do my math at the start of the project, so that once I start everything is waiting for me.

I like to assemble my tops as just squares lined up in rows.  There are plenty of quilters who do more of a puzzle or mosaic approach, putting different size blocks together.  If I have different sized blocks I will use sashing to bring them all to the same size, then line them up.

IMG_5174.jpgStep 1:  Choose your block size

Spread your shirts out, finding the one with the largest pattern.  (If you have a shirt with printing on both sides, split it up the sides.)  Place your ruler over the pattern, and decide on the best block size to use.  I like to leave at least a 1/2″ border all the way around the printed design.  I cut it the block out a little bigger than my planned size, maybe an extra 1/2″.  The t-shirt will wiggle and stretch, so it needs to be squared off later anyway.  Do this for all of your shirts.  Discard the shirt portions you are not using.  (Or save them for some of the bazillion t-shirt crafts on Pinterest.)

For this project, the client requested 18″ blocks.  I will cut my squares out at 19″ for my first cut.  If you need to go into the armpit seam or neckline, it is ok.  It still stitches together and quilts nicely.

IMG_5190.jpgStep 2:  Cut your interfacing

Cut your interfacing squares.  I like to use Pellon SF101.  I cut them at 18.5″ square – I want interfacing in my seams, too.  I’ll have 13 yards of 1.5″ strips of interfacing left over.  Sometimes life sucks.  In the past I have lined them up and made use of every scrap of interfacing.  It made me feel a little bit crazy, so I won’t be doing that again.

IMG_5178.jpgStep 3:  Fuse your t-shirts

Place your t-shirt wrong side up on your ironing board.  Give it a quick press – flat fabric is easier to work with.  Place the interfacing over the shirt, with the glue dots facing down.  The side touching your iron will be smooth.  (I only did it the wrong way once.)  Be sure to center it nicely.  It doesn’t need to be perfect, but you do want interfacing in the seam allowance.  You can use a pressing cloth if you are concerned about getting glue on your iron.  Press it thoroughly.  Pellon recommends 10-15 seconds per spot on the shirt.  It takes a while.  Do this for all of your shirts.

Take a break.  This is enough for Day 1.  I’m off to do some housework, make dinner, then maybe make a little progress on a different project.  I will see you tomorrow!

Other posts in the T-Shirt Quilt series:

T-Shirt Quilts: Generating an Estimate



8 thoughts on “T-Shirt Quilts: Prepare the Shirts

  1. This looks great. They are a lot of work and I have one that I think will be two sided by the time it is done. I am thinking 2019 unless the bug really bites me this year and says get it done!


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