DIY T-Shirt Quilt {Part 1}

Before we get started, be sure to read the introduction and materials/cost breakdown for your t-shirt quilt.

So you've decided to make a t-shirt quilt? Great! Let's prep your fabrics.

1) Gather your t-shirts. If there is a design on the front and back of the shirt, you'll want to cut each separately. To do that, just cut down the sides and over the shoulders of the shirt.

2) Once you've done that, or if there is not a design on the back, lay the shirt out flat on a cutting mat and position your template. I recommend a 12" plastic quilting square--it was big enough for almost every shirt design. When you line up the template, be sure to think about your seam allowance. I use a half inch seam allowance, which means that .5" around the square won't be visible on the final quilt. Make sure you can read any words that are important!

3) Use your rotary cutter around your template, and here is what you will have:

4) If you cut through two layers, you will have this:

5) Here is how I am able to get away without interfacing. Rotate the top shirt a quarter turn to the left or right and put it back on top of the bottom layer. Doing this makes the grains of the fabrics run in opposite directions. It gives the quilt square more strength, and it will stretch less when sewn (the whole point of interfacing). If you only cut one layer at a time (because there was another design on the back), grab an old shirt, cut it, and use it for the backing. Just make sure the grains go in opposite directions when you layer them. You will feel that one direction is tighter when you pull at it. So if the backing shirt is tightest from side to side, then lay your shirt with the design on top of that with its tightest feeling "pull" being up and down. I've found that the tightest feeling pull is up in down, in the same direction as most t-shirt designs, but always check to make sure! Be careful during this step because you don't want your fabrics to stretch out. Treat them delicately.

6) Put some pins in there to hold both layers together and set it aside. Do this again and again until all your shirts are cut and backed. Your hands will be sore the next day.

7) Clear a space and put down your backing fabric (this makes storing between steps much easier in the next step!). I like to use fleece because it's wide and very soft. Play with the placements of your shirt squares until you are happy with what you see. I wanted mine to look random, so I didn't put any of the same colors next to each other. I also spaced out the colors that felt like "anchors." In my case, those were the black, yellow, and white shirts. I'm not a quilting expert, so some people who are may be abhorred by my layout. I like it though :) This design is 6 shirts across by 8 shirts down, or 72"x96" before sewing.

8) Once you like the way it looks, get some some paper scraps and write "row 1," etc. on in and pin it to the first square on each row. This will help just in case something falls out of place. The reason I had you put down your backing is so you can easily roll up your design without risking getting your squares out of order!

9) Now you can easily store this until it's time to sew!

10) I also think it's good to go ahead and sew your binding strips. I like this tutorial, so I won't explain that here. Now you have this:

Phew! Still with me? I hope so! When you're ready, move on to Part 2 and Part 3.



  1. Appreciate your careful and explicit instructions. I really need to make one of these for both Jerry and me. Buess I'll have to have a working sewing machine first, though!

  2. You don't even need to back the blocks with another T-shirt.

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