Workshop Wednesday: T-Shirt Quilts

Have you ever made a T-shirt Quilt? I’ve been saying I’m going to make one for about 8 years now, and I swear I’m just about to get around to it! Since doing some recent spring (OK, fine, summer) cleaning, I rediscovered my stash of T-shirts that I’ve put aside for that very purpose. So I’ve been researching and planning exactly how I’m going to make my quilt, and it turns out there’s a lot to know!

The main thing to consider, I’ve found, is that I’ll need some sort of fusible web or stabilizer to keep the T-shirt fabric from stretching out, and to make it simpler to combine with non-stretchy woven fabrics. That’s easy enough, since there are lots of choices for fusible web and stabilizers available, in all different weights. If you don’t believe me, check out the selection at Quilt&SewShop!

Like any good internet user, if there’s something I’d like to know how to do, I try to find video tutorials on the topic. So that’s what I did for my T-shirt quilt project. The My First Quilt video series with Sarah Gallegos is free to watch on QNNtv and is a great resource for all kinds of techniques. She has a great, informative video tutorial on making T-shirt quilts, so I’m starting there.

If you’d like instruction that’s a little more detailed, as well as a few free patterns and bonus projects, you may be interested in the DIY T-Shirt Quilts on-demand webinar from Craft University. The course can be accessed any time after purchase, and the patterns that come with the class are a nice way to get started right away (after learning exactly what to do, of course).

I really like one of the patterns that comes with the course, called Quilted Memories, and the nice thing about it is that you can just get the Quilted Memories digital pattern alone if you prefer. It’s a really useful pattern because it takes into consideration that not all T-shirt logos are the same size, and offers solutions for using your particular T-shirts.

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Quilted Memories T-Shirt Quilt

Since the size of motifs on T-shirts can vary so widely, it’s a little hard to find dedicated T-shirt quilt patterns, I’ve realized. But not impossible! Quiltmaker has a nice T-Shirt Quilt Patterns e-book with lots of different patterns; there’s something in there to suit just about every style and size.

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Quiltmaker’s T-Shirt Quilt Patterns e-book

But I also realized, as I was looking for T-shirt quilt patterns, that a number of traditional patterns could be adapted to become T-shirt quilts. It’s true! If a pattern has applique blocks, for example, those blocks could be turned into T-shirt motif blocks. Or if a pattern just uses large square patches to show off a cool print, those cool print patches can become T-shirt motif patches, and so on. I’m considering using one of the patterns shown below for my T-shirt quilt, to really make it one-of-a-kind.

The Four-Square Float pattern is a perfect example of this, in my opinion. If you have small motifs you can use them in the Four-Square Blocks, or if you have larger motifs you can just use a single patch in lieu of a pieced block. I think it would look really sharp as a T-shirt quilt.

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Four-Square Float by Sarah Zimmerman

Another pattern that would work in this capacity is Jumping for Joy. It’s got a really cool layout, and if a motif is larger than that big square patch in the block, you could replace a pieced block or two with a larger patch of T-shirt motif.

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Jumping for Joy by Paula Stoddard

The final pattern I’m considering turning into a T-shirt quilt pattern is Stamp Pad. I really like those little Flying Geese! It’s got those big rectangular patches that I think would work well with at least a 5 of the T-shirt motifs I have, then I could add piecing to some smaller motifs until they’re the right size.

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Stamp Pad by Wendy Sheppard

Lots of good options, right? But I’ll be honest. The main reason I haven’t started my T-shirt quilt yet is because I’m too busy making regular quilts! I’ve got deadlines to meet, gifts to make, and there’s just too much beautiful quilting cotton sitting around, begging to be cut and sewn. And the T-shirt quilt I have in mind would be just for me, just for fun. So it keeps getting postponed.

If you can relate to this conundrum, you may be just as interested as I was to learn about the Keepsake Theme Quilts organization. The company is owned by Deaf Initiatives, a non-profit group whose mission is to provide education, practical occupational training and financial independence for deaf people. You send your T-shirts to Keepsake Theme Quilts, and they’ll cut and assembly a lovely, high-quality T-shirt quilt for you. Not only do you get a valuable quilt full of memories, but you’ll be helping out with a worthy cause at the same time! Find out more about the company and their work at their website, tshirtquilts.com. I think it’s a great solution and I may just take that route if my pile of T-shirt sits around much longer.

If you’ve made a T-shirt quilt or two and you have any advice for me, I’d love to hear it. Also, if you know of a device or method that completely prevents procrastination, that would be useful for me to know as well. Thanks and happy quilting!

This entry was posted in Gigi Khalsa, quilting tutorials, Workshop Wednesday and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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