Monday, June 25, 2018

T-shirt quilt -- Part 1 :)

Hi everyone! :)

A couple of months ago, I volunteered to make a T-shirt quilt for my friend's husband, who had an abundance of Star Wars shirts :)

I wanted to share it with you today -- and also wanted to share HOW to make one if you are interested :) 

I know a lot of people have asked me to share how I make these -- and I have shared before the tips/tools/videos I used when I started making these (this is the 3rd one I have made) -- but as I was making this one, I took photos so I could share with you on how I made it :)

This one was the largest one I have made to date -- it is 78 inches across and 108 inches long!! Since I took A TON OF PHOTOS for this tutorial -- I am going to split this tutorial over the next two days! :)

So first things first -- here is the finished quilt!! :)

Now -- let's start the tutorial!! :)  And a HUGE thank you to Brian and Brookie who took some of these photos for me when I had to use two hands to show what I was doing :)

I know a lot of people (like me!!! LOL!!) save T-shirts from their youth, their kids youth, etc. and this is a FUN way to keep them forever without taking up a bunch of space in the closet!! :)  And because they are T-shirts -- you know that makes this quilt washing machine and dryer safe!!! :)

The first thing I did was cut off all the sleeves and the backs of the shirts -- throw away the sleeves, HOWEVER, do NOT throw away the backs of the T-shirts, and I will explain why! :)

Here are the backs of the T-shirts :)

Because T-shirts are made of knit fabric, they are harder to sew on as they will move in the sewing machine. So you will want to buy Fusible Interfacing fabric -- the link will take you to Amazon, but you can also buy this at Joann's or other fabric stores. 

I used my T-shirt transformation square (it is 15 1/2 inches x 15 1/2 inches, but also has stencil marks for 12 1/2 inches and 10 1/2 inches square areas -- this is a MUST have when you are making one of these) to measure my Fusible Interfacing fabric - I lay it down on the Fusible Interfacing fabric, and then cut an inch or so around it, so I make sure it cover the area I need. 

I continue doing this until I have enough squares for each T-shirt that will be on the quilt. 

Now it is time to IRON!!! YAY!!! No .... lol :)

Since most T-shirts are screen printed, you cannot iron directly on them -- 

So if you have wrinkles on your shirts, you will place a T-shirt pressing cloth on top of the screen print to iron them out.  This helps to protect the print :)

Once you have ironed out the wrinkles, you will turn the shirt upside down (face down) and then place one of your pre-cut Fusible Interfacing fabric pieces on it.  You will place it so it covers most of the shirt, as this is the fabric that will "stiffen" the shirt to make it so you can sew on it without it moving around.

There is a light adhesive on one side of this Fusible Interfacing fabric, and you will place it FACE DOWN on the shirt.  You can tell by touch the adhesive side, as with anything 'glue' related, it has a sticky feel to it.  This is important to have the adhesive side down --  having it facing up at you as you iron, as you can guess will NOT turn out well! LOL!  You will have 'glue' on your iron - and that is no fun! :)

Start ironing in the top corner -- you will only need to hold down the iron for about 10-15 seconds.  DO NOT hold it any longer than that.  This Fusible Interfacing fabric is VERY thin, and again has a light adhesive on the back of it - so you do not need a lot of time for it to adhere to the shirt.  10-15 seconds is perfect for your iron to stick the Fusible Interfacing fabric to the shirt.  If you stay on longer, you could burn the Fusible Interfacing fabric and possibly hurt your shirt also. 

Here is what it looks like when it adheres to the shirt -- 

Now the Fusible Interfacing fabric is attached to your shirt -- 

Once you have adhered the Fusible Interfacing fabric to your shirt, grab your T-shirt transformation plastic form and a Sharpie or other black marker to "trace" around where you will be cutting.  

As I said before, I am making my quilt squares 15 1/2 inch x 15 1/2 inch -- which is the entire outside of my T-shirt transformation plastic 'stencil'. 

Since this is a white shirt, I can easily see the print through the back of this shirt -- if it is a darker shirt, I use either a bright light to see where I want to trace my square, OR I have the shirt face up at me, hold my stencil behind it and then carefully lay it down once I have the stencil where I want it. 

Take your marker and trace all the way around the stencil. 

This is what it looks like once you have traced around it.

Trimming the lines you have drawn can be hard on the wrist and hands, so I suggest cutting the excess shirt fabric before trimming it down to size with your Contour Rotary Cutter, as this will make it easier when you make your square (at least it is for me and my old hands! LOL!) 

Next you will line up your straight edge ruler with the line that you drew, and use your Rotary Cutter to trim along that line you made. 

Hold your ruler down firmly and roll your rotary cutter along the lines. 

Go around every line that you drew, and then when you are done, you will have your quilt square. 

As I mentioned above, KEEP THE BACKS OF THE SHIRTS!!! As for this example, they will come in handy!!!! My above square is 15 1/2 inch x 15 1/2 inch.  This shirt is smaller as you can see in this photo, that my T-shirt transformation square is bigger than the shirt, so I can't trace around it.  I have to make this quilt square smaller than the one I did above.  However, I do not want uneven squares on this quilt, so I will be cutting this square smaller, using the other stencil marks in my transformation plastic and I will be USING the back of another shirt to make a 15 1/2 inch by 15 1/2 inch square -- that I will then place the smaller square on the larger one to matte them together -- 

I used my thumbs here to show you where the other stencil marks are that I will be using to make this smaller square -- once I have it centered - I will again use my marker to mark the areas I will be cutting. 

Here is the shirt marked with the smaller square size.  You will now cut it like the other one above, using the straight edge ruler and rotary cutter. 

Here you can see the difference in the two sizes.

I need to make the one on the left the same size as the one on the right. 

Here is the back of a shirt that I saved just for this reason. You will treat this the same you would the other ones, which includes adding Fusible Interfacing fabric to "stiffen" the shirt, and then you will use the T-shirt transformation plastic to create a 15 1/2 inch x 15 1/2 inch square. 

Now that I have my larger "plain" square cut, you can see that they are the same size.  

Once you have the smaller square centered on the larger square, you will pin it in place and sew around it. 

Here it is all sewn together - so now I have one big square by putting together the two pieces. 

Once you have all the squares made (please note -- there are a lot of 'smaller' squares on here, that I matted with the larger squares I made using the backs of the shirts) -- you will lay them all out somewhere so you can see how you want them put together.  This is my family room floor -- I laid out a California King size sheet first (plus some pillow cases, as this quilt is HUGE!! lol!) as we have a dog, so I didn't want the squares to get dog hair on the back of them.  I did say you can wash this quilt, HOWEVER, the back is not on yet, so anything on the back of the squares would stay on there -- so I laid the sheet and pillow cases first to avoid anything getting on the backs of the squares. 

And to give you an idea of just HOW BIG this quilt is --- Brookie laid down on it for me -- and she is 5 feet 4 inches tall people ... lol!! So this quilt is gonna be a big one!!!! HA! :)

Ok, once you have your squares all laid out -- I gathered them up in the row (across) they will be in and placed them on my counter until I was ready to sew them, so I wouldn't lose the order I had them in. 

Ok, now it is time to sew the squares together!!! 

You have the piles of squares the way you want them, take the top two and place them side by side. 

Place them face down to each other. 

 Once they are together -- 

Pin them together -- 

And sew them together --  I double stitch EVERYTHING to make sure they are secure for life :)

Here it is all sewn together -- 

Once you open them, it's like a book -- 

Here is the back after I have sewn them together -- 

Take the next square in that row and place it face down on the shirt on the right and repeat the process.  Continue this way until you have your entire row done. 

Once all of your rows are sewn together -- you need to iron the seams down that you have created by sewing the squares together -- as when this quilt is complete, you don't want to seams to be raised against you when you are snuggling on the couch! *wink* :)

With your row face down -- 

(You can see here that the seam is sticking up -- this is what you will be ironing down) -- 

Carefully take your iron (use the water sprayer on your iron to help the seams go down) and iron along the inside of the seam to "flatten" it -- 

Here it is ironed down -- this will also help you when you are sewing the rows together -- 

Here is a close up of the seam ironed down -- 

I will be back tomorrow to share the rest of the steps :) 

Thanks so much for stopping by! I appreciate it! :)


  1. Gosh. The finished product looks amazing!
    You must have such patience...I think getting the grids all even will drive me crazy!

  2. I LOVE it!!! Star Wars plus quilt = amazing!

    I have been wanting to do one each of these for my kids. Great tutorial!

  3. You are multi talented. It looks amazing ~ who's next Brookie?

  4. Oh my, what patience you must have, Julie! I did a tiny doll quilt once and, though it turned out well, I dumped all the quilting tools and such that I had bought when I thought it would be my next "ooh shiny"! Turns out it wasn't, LOL! This is really wonderful!

  5. So aweseome! Luv the tutorial 💖💖

  6. WOW! Amazing! You are so talented. So smart to use the backs of the t-shirts as mats for the smaller designs. That tracing tool looks like a must-have. I can't even imagine trying to tackle this project without it.

  7. All I can say is Wow Wow Wow and that the Force was strong with you! Well done!

  8. Oh, Julie, this is something she will love forever! I made one for each child using the iron on method and 24 years later, and 19 years later, they still enjoy them. Sorry I have been awol. On Wednesday last week, I began coughing, and ended up being admitted to hospital with severe pneumonia. keeps us hopping! Hugs!!!

  9. Just an amazing quilt, Julie! Absolutely amazing! Your friends are going to treasure this forever. Thanks so much for sharing all the steps. Love your tutorial.... and am especially smiling over that photo of Brookie! <3

  10. This is so amazing and awesome!!!! You're so crafty!

  11. I SO want to make one of these... I have a box full of concert tees screaming to be made into a quilt! I don't know if it will ever happen.. that's a lot of work!! Maybe when I retire... tee shirt quilt when I'm!! Anyway, awesome tutorial and if I do ever make one this will be one of my first stops along with your other post with all of the videos and tutorials!


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