How to Make a T-Shirt Quilt

comments (15) August 11th, 2008     

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lcampb Lilly Campbell, contributor
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The finished product is just waiting to be moved to my dorm bed.

The finished product is just waiting to be moved to my dorm bed.

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Tying Your Quilt

Since I spent a lot of time talking about quilt tying earlier, I want to share some tips, based on my experience. I certainly learned that my glorious idea to include a design with every tie was unreasonable. It turns out that ties are needed at intervals of between 2 inches to 4 inches, which means that tying was A LOT more time-consuming than I anticipated. Double-knots were about all I could handle.

I tied along the edges between rows and columns of squares and then at about 3 1/2-inch intervals throughout the quilt. Because my squares didn't line up perfectly, my tying distances were also imprecise when keeping them lined up with the squares.

1. Thread an embroidery needle and, starting at the bottom of the quilt, pull the needle up through the corner between the border and the first square on the left. Make a small stitch, pull the needle down through all three layers, and then insert it back up at a 2-inch to 4-inch interval. Repeat, stitching across the bottom edge until you reach opposite corner.

2. On the quilt back, cut halfway between each large stitch. Tie a double-knot with the two ends of embroidery thread and trim to about 3 cm in length. Note: I wanted my ties on the back of the quilt so as not to interrupt the designs on the front; you can easily alter these directions to have the ties on the front.

3. Repeat all the way up your quilt. When you reach the top border, you are done.

I hope this helps anyone interested in making a T-shirt quilt. I'd be happy to answer questions or clarify if need-be. I have had so much fun posting this summer, and I know that will continue to be one of my favorite distractions this year.

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posted in: fabric

Comments (15)

lorahyatt writes: Awesome job on your quilt this post couldn't of come at a perfect time! I was given a huge bag of T-shirts from my Grandaughter a couple of weeks ago. She will be a senior this year and has been playing softball since she was knee high to a grasshopper. Just got through prepping all of the shirts, cutting sleeves and neckbands off and stood and stared at all the different sizes of the emblems. Your post just saved me a lot of thinking time, lol
Scraps ! What a perfect idea since I have lots of those! Also the idea of tying it off instead of quilting it, now I'm kind of tossing the idea around about using some really tiny ribbon to tie it off with and make some tiny little bows since she and her teams always wore hair ribbons, I could color coordinate with the shirts. Found some really cute softball print fabric for the backing too! Oh my, the ideas are flowing now! Thanks for your post, and again great job,
Posted: 6:23 am on September 1st
SonyaMae writes: I used your tutorial to make a lovely quilt from about 40 Harley Davidson shirts (for a friend). It turned out beautifully. instead of other fabrics I used the extra fabric such as sleeves and tails from the same shirts and mixed and matched the colors. Thank You very much for sharing the step by step tutorial. Started the quilt on October 2 and delivered it to my friend on Nov 17. This was in my spare time between working my full time job.
Posted: 8:01 am on November 21st
mariadvg writes: I haven't sewn before and want to tackle this project. Is there hope for me??
Posted: 9:23 pm on June 25th
LSzogas writes: Hi!

I just finished my first t-shirt quilt, and I'm ready to start tying. My squares are 12", and my sashing is 1-1/2". I've decided that I'll tie every 4" in the shirt, plus at 4" intervals on the seams. Does this sound reasonable?

Your method of tying sounds very efficient - I hadn't thought about making a line of stitches, and then cutting them. What kind of thread did you use to tie? I was thinking about embroidery thread - but not sure whether 3 strands or 6 strands would be best. I've seen both mentioned.

Thanks again for your suggestions.


Posted: 1:59 pm on September 12th
librarygirlo writes: Very inspiring. I think the key to success just may be the use of interfacing behind the t-shirt material!
Posted: 10:16 am on March 7th
sd101 writes: how long did it take you to make the quilt!!
It looks fabulous!!!
Posted: 6:45 pm on November 26th
Posted: 5:25 am on July 16th
Mickderb writes: Your quilt is very nice, so colorful and fun. T-shirt quilting is my favorite pass time. I would like to share with readers that recycling the unused backs and sleeves of the t-shirts can be donated to animal shelters or to painters/construction companies. (Some who might even pay for them as clean-up rags).
Posted: 12:45 pm on January 17th
coffee_snob writes: Thank you. Your instructions have inspired me to make a t-shirt quist for my husband. He collects t-shirts, but he no longer wears the older ones. This way he can enjoy them all over again.
Posted: 8:26 am on October 15th
4dogs3cats writes: I am delighted to find this....its something I have planned to do, for a long time, for my son..he was into all kinds of activities and each time, we got another t shirt..this will be a REAL memory quilt! thanks.......
Posted: 2:49 am on September 28th
KeetaCollection writes: What a wonderful quilt. I can see you put a lot of time into it.
Posted: 4:20 pm on September 18th
_nikki_ writes: is that a t-shirt with a Corgi on it I see!?!!?
Posted: 4:21 pm on August 25th
IggyJingles writes: Congratulations, it looks just beautiful. Don't forget to sign the back. Quilters will often sew a small hand written (or embroidered) label with their name, the date, and any name they have given the piece. It's art. It deserves a signature.
Posted: 9:28 pm on August 11th
MichaelaMurphy writes: Wow, Lilly, this is terrific! I agree with Diane, the framing really sets off the whole quilt very nicely. Thanks for all of your hard work this summer! Good luck at school, I'll miss you. M
Posted: 6:08 pm on August 11th
Sister_Diane writes: I love the idea of framing the t-shirt pieces in other fabrics - the mix is really fun, and also makes this more elegant than any other t-shirt quilt I've seen. Nice work! And, good luck at school!
Posted: 5:01 pm on August 11th
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