Saturday, March 1, 2014

From a T-shirt to a Memory Quilt

        I am sure, like me, you have more t-shirts than you know what to do with, but you don't want to throw them away. People often collect t-shirts from places they visits, events they participate in, or even those in worn when memories were created. They are also a great conversation starter, so why not make them into a t-shirt quilt and let the stories live forever? This is a great project to upcycle your t-shirts and save them from ending up in the landfill, since the fabric is often chemically treated, it will take many years to decompose. Or in another case, t-shirts are often donated and sent to communities in Africa and sold cheaply. Although it may seem like we are helping since we are clothing them, we are in fact harming their local economies because the textile industry cannot produce and earn a profit. 
        The solution is to make a t-shirt quilt uniquely your own with a specific theme (maybe a vacations or places you've traveled, sports and activities like mine, or music...). I really enjoy the quilts that have a variety of different designs and colors. The quilts make great gifts for your students going away to college or their first job. 

Supplies you need
    • T-shirts- number will vary depending on the desired quilt size. 
    • Thin cotton batting 
    • Fabric for the back of your quilt
    • Tricot Interfacing (a knit interfacing) that is iron-on (fusible) Available at any fabric store.
    • Pins
    • Iron
    • Sewing machine 

       1) Select your t-shirts and you want to include, but make sure the design isn't too large, or you may have to cut some of it off. The desired size of your quilt will help you determine how many t-shirts you need.
        2) Cut a large square out of each t-shirt, you can use both the front and back sides.
        3) Cut squares of tricot interfacing (fusible) the size of the t-shirt square.
        4) Place the t-shirt square face down on an ironing board and place the fusible (bumpy       glue side) of the interfacing down on the t-shirt. Lay it so that the stretch of the t-shirt is opposite of the stretch on the interfacing.
        5) Lay the iron down on the interfacing for a few seconds, pick up the iron and move to another spot. Repeat until the interfacing is all secured.
        6) Cut the cooled pieces into the size you want your squares to be. I cut mine 12 x 12
Plan your design- there are a number of different ways to do it. You will now sew your squares together. Take one square and sew right side to right side or the front of one t-shirt design on the design of the other one and pin one side, stitch. 
        8) Repeat step 7 until all of your squares are sewn together.
        9) Take your thin cotton batting and fabric for the back of the quilt and cut to fit. Place the batting in between the quilt front and back. Pin together. 

         10) Take the quilt to a quilter to have it finished on a quilting machine. 

Please send me your t-shirt quilt designs, as I would love to see them! 


  1. I've always wanted to do this. I need to!

    1. If you know how to sew, it is a pretty easy project. If you want, when I go home, I can get the name of the guide book that helped me through the entire process. Do you sew, Brandi?

  2. This is awesome. I have been trying to find someone to make a quilt out of some of my son's baby you do that or do you know of anyone?

    1. Kristin, I actually sew a bit and have made quilts before. My grandma actually made this one and she quilts all the time. I am sure she would be willing to sew it for you or once I get done with school, I'd be happy to try. Do you sew? I could give you the name of a step-by-step t-shirt quilt book that helped us get started. The only thing we had to have someone else do was machine quilt the front and batting to the back. If you know how to do basic sewing, it isn't hard at all. Let me know!

    2. If you wanted to learn how to do it, I would be happy to show you and help you. :)