Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The T-Shirt Quilt - Part 1

The first quilt I EVER made was a t-shirt quilt.  I don't have a picture of's at my mom's house somewhere and there's probably a cat sleeping on it.  All my old t-shirts and tanktops were cut into squares.  Unfortunately, I used a CD jewel case as a template to draw the squares.  They aren't a perfect square.  I also traced the template with a permanent marker.  That smell doesn't dissipate very quickly.  Plus jersey fabric is REALLY difficult to sew with.  I pressed all of the seams open.  I don't even want to try to remember how I did the binding - it was certainly a disaster.  My second quilt was a much larger t-shirt quilt, it covers my twin-size bed at my mom's.  Sophie sleeps on it.  I never finished it - it's sewn together but the binding never made it on.  And neither of them is quilted, I just tied them with yarn.  But whatever, it was a learning experience.  And I was SO proud to have made a quilt!  And I swore I'd never make another t-shirt quilt ever again.

Until last year when a good friend of mine from college talked me into making one for him.  He lost his brother to cancer and had a pile of his t-shirts that would be great in a quilt.  After doing some research online, I decided to take it on!  Not only do I have a lot more knowledge about quilting and sewing (13 years after the first t-shirt quilt disaster), there's so much info on the internet.  Fusible stabilizer!?  12-inch squares cut using a 12.5-inch perfectly square ruler!?  Chalk pencils!?  Wow this quilt should be cake.

A stack of t-shirt blocks.

When I got the shirts, the collars and sleeves had been cut off and they'd been washed.  All I had to do was iron on the stabilizer then use my big square ruler to cut out the blocks.  I was even provided with the layout of the t-shirts and color selections for the sashing, backing, and binding :)  Cutting was a little scary, mostly just on the hockey jersey.  It's pretty much completely not replaceable.  That was the one that HAD to be cut perfectly on the first try.  Unlucky for me, the number was sewn on a little wonky... but it turned out okay :)

All 25 stabilized and cut blocks laid out on the floor, all ready for sashing!
The sashing went on quickly and really brought it all together nicely!

Completed quilt top.
Now basting a quilt this big and heavy is a pain.  Lately I've been doing so many small projects and spray basting.  The pins had to come out for this!  I spent a few hours at the office with two big tables pushed together, smoothing and clamping and pinning...

Pin basting!  That spoon is handy - it opens/closes all the pins so I don't get hurt!
 The owner of this quilt lives in Philly and goes to at least a few Flyers games every year (although he's actually a Bruins fan), so appropriately, I spent Saturday afternoon watching the Penguins crush the Flyers and quilting this quilt :) 

Initially, I'd planned to just do an all-over meandering/stippling quilt pattern.  Well, I wasn't too sure about getting through that hockey jersey in the middle (the jersey itself is no big deal, but the numbers are pretty stiff/heavy) and the quilt was SO HEAVY I don't think the FMQ would've turned out too well.  Plus this needs to be more masculine than that.  So I opted to outline the sashing.  But then the quilting was spaced too far apart for the batting so I went corner to corner on each block and made a bunch of diamonds. 

Quilted and ready for binding!
I used an invisible thread on the top since there was so much light and dark and a matching green thread on the back.  I think I might go back and outline the "13" in the hockey jersey since I didn't quilt through it.

Three extra blocks were chopped up for the back.
Well it hasn't been cake, but it's coming together nicely.  It's been a work-in-progress since last spring, but I'm hoping to have it done by the end of February.  All that's left to do is put the binding on!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced!



  1. Nice job! I've never seen a t-shirt quilt that didn't have lots of logos/writing all over the shirts. This one is much more appealing to me :)

  2. Oh love! I have heard that freezer paper can help with tshirts but stabilizer is probably even better.