The Original T-shirt Quilt

I have been busy, really I have!  I just don’t have pictures of what I’ve been working on…yet.

I do, however, have a picture of my very first  t-shirt quilt.  Ta da!

I made this several years ago, perhaps 12 or so?  This picture was taken after a few years of use, though.  You can see wrinkles and evidence of stretching.  When I made this quilt, I didn’t know what I was doing!  I didn’t make the blocks uniform size.  I didn’t even make them all rectangles!  See those hot pink triangles?  Those were set in to make rectangles out of  irregular pentagons!  I didn’t use the right kind of needle to sew on knit fabric.  And I didn’t back the fabric with fusible interfacing.  (Hence, the stretching…and missing stitches…and not very straight lines!)

This poor quilt will need some TLC and a major overhaul someday.  But for now it holds memories of moments in time from two lives–mine and my husband’s.  All the shirts except one are from before we were married.  It was so much fun to combine them into one memory.  Our kids have grown up calling it “the park quilt.”  New memories from old ones.  Love it.


T-shirt Quilt, Part 1: the Squares

This project will be covered in several installments.  It wasn’t completed all at once, so I won’t show it to you all at once!

Today, I’ll show you a group of completed squares, after I explain that I didn’t have the forethought to photograph the actual t-shirts before I started whacking them up!  The photos you will see here are already 5 steps into this project.

Step 1: Ruthlessly clean out your stash of t-shirts that you KNOW you will never wear again.  (Wash them if necessary.)

Step 2: Measure (and record!) the height and width of the image area of each shirt.  This will determine what size to cut all of your t-shirts, if you want them all the same size.  (More on that in another post about another t-shirt quilt.)

Step 3: Cut the t-shirts according to the measurements you took.  The tallest image area among my shirts was 12 1/2″, and the widest was 14 1/2″.  Allowing for seams and free space around the images, I decided a 16″ square would be about right.  (I use a rotary cutter on a cutting mat to do this.)

Step 4: Apply fusible interfacing to the backs of all your squares.  This prevents stretching and general misshapenness while you work on your quilt.  And for the years to come.

You may skip the following step, if all your squares are uniform and ready to join together into a quilt top.  Mine were not, so on to Step 5.

Step 5: Some of my shirts did not have 16 usable square inches, so I had to make them bigger.  In order to make them bigger, I had to add fabric–something that is in (too) ample supply around here.  In fact, I had to buy fabric for only ONE of my squares!  Anyway, I added fabric in the style of traditional quilt blocks, such as Log Cabin, Snowball, Foursquare, Brotherly Love, and others.

In no particular order, here are the first 4 of 16 completed blocks!


This is the image that ultimately determined my squares' dimensions.


This one resembles a Snowball quilt square.


I wanted this one to look not quite square, so I created a two-color assymetrical border.


See the kite and kite string? This is a very modified Snowball, and it was very fun to do!


Keep watching this blog for more about my t-shirt quilt!