How To: Make a T-Shirt Quilt

Finished QuiltThe Mr has seen a lot of bands, and he mostly wears band t-shirts. The chest of drawers were beginning to struggle to contain the band merch, so I said I’d make a t-shirt quilt out of the shirts that were beginning to wear thin. This was about eighteen months ago. I finally made it for his birthday last week, which involved a lot of secret sewing and booking days off work without the Mr knowing.

I’m not going to lie, it’s quite a big project and it’s not for beginners. The main thing you need is space. I have a tiny sewing table, which is great for my ELMrocks sewing and my clothes making, but not for gigantic t-shirt quilts.

To make your own quilt, you will need several t-shirts.  Roughly cut out squares/oblongs that contain the image you want to keep. You need AT LEAST 5cm on each side of the image. AT LEAST, and that’s all the way round; your cutting will need to be quite accurate here. To be safe, I just cut the whole front off so all my pieces were roughly the same width from the start.

Quilt Laid Out

When you have done this, you’ll need to lay out the design of your logos. Most of the Mr’s were black and white, I tried to distribute the colour throughout, giving a few pops of colour. If your t-shirts are coloured, you’ll need to take into consideration toning the colours (unless you like massive clash, in which case, just go for it!). Taking each column in turn, cover the back with an iron on interfacing. This will stop the quilt sagging out of shape.

Plan 3

Then, straighten off the tops and bottoms of each t-shirt front. Use a cutting board, quilting ruler and rotary cutter for the best results. Think about how your t-shirt will look once it’s cut. You need 1.5cm seam allowance, plus whatever background you want to frame the design. This is why you need the 5cm from above. Once you’ve trimmed the tops and bottoms, pin the designs right sides together so they follow the order you decided, with the designs central to the one underneath. You might have some wider than the others, but hopefully not by much. Sew using matching thread 1.5cm from the edge. Press the seams open. Repeat with the other panels until you have several strips.

Plan 1

Trim the sides of the panels using a the rotary cutter, quilting ruler and cutting mat, making sure that the design is central. Then, pin the panels right sides together in the correct order and sew together, using 1.5cm seam allowance. Press open.

My quilt was quite big, so I sewed two lengths of the backing fabric together making a much wider strip. You need a large table or a clear floor with no pets/children/parents/spouses and significant others coming in and ruining it all for you. Lay the backing fabric wrong side up on your chosen surface. Smooth out any wrinkles. Lay your wadding on the top, then your quilt, right side up. Carefully, and working from the centre out, use quilter’s safety pins to pin all the layers together.

Now, carefully sew down each of the panels, again, working from the centre out. Then, sew the seams of the images, the first seams you made above.

Plan 2

You’re almost there! Either buy wide bias binding in your chosen colour, or make your own (there are lots of YouTube tutorials on this if you’re not sure) and fix to the trimmed edges of the quilt. Go and pour yourself a large whiskey and resolve to buy an Amazon voucher next time, or celebrate your success, depending how late the night before you need to give it to the person you started making it for it is.

The Mr was really pleased with his t-shirt quilt though and declared it the best present ever, so it was totally worth it in the end.


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