Sunday, January 29, 2012


I went over to Terry's on Thursday for a couple of hours to help her get started on a t-shirt quilt. She'd never made one before, and since I've made several, she thought I could coach her through the process.

If you've never made a t-shirt quilt, it is absolutely the easiest, fastest quilt in the world to make. The blocks are big and because it's made of t-shirts, it's generally not going to be an heirloom or anything, so being super exact about everything is optional. (YAY!)

My tried-and-true method requires using a 15" square ruler to cut the front design out of a t-shirt. These would be adult-size shirts with big designs on the front or back. (The picture above is from a previous t-shirt project.) Naturally, for children's shirts or for shirts that have smaller designs, a smaller ruler would be necessary. All of Terry's t-shirts had smaller insignias on the upper left chest of the shirt, so we used an 8" square ruler for her blocks. She will end up with more of a lap quilt than a bed-size quilt. She had 12 shirts in all.

There will be a lot of waste with what is discarded after each shirt is cut. I've seen some really cute things on Pinterest that use t-shirt knit, so the fabric could be repurposed. The knit also recycles nicely as car rags, camping rags, pet rags, etc. - they sky's the limit on uses.
Here is the waste from 12 adult-sized shirts.

Next, cut the fusible lightweight interfacing - the same size as the block. This then is ironed on to the back of each t-shirt block to stabilize it and prevent the stretching and curling that working with knit would naturally have.
These blocks have the interfacing ironed onto the back.

Next, cut the sashing strips. No rules to follow - they can be any width you want! On my Ohio State quilt, I cut 3 1/2" strips to finish out at 3" sashings. Cut as many as you need to do the sides of each block, then sew the rows together.

For the long sashing pieces, I would measure the length of each of my rows, establish an average, and cut them to that length. Another alternative is to do the math: add up the totals of the blocks and sashing strips. It would all come out pretty much the same (ideally). Cut as many strips as you need to this length. 

Then construct the top by sewing long sashing strips to rows, until you have your top. Add borders to your desire, and VOILA!! Your t-shirt quilt top is done! Easy-peasy, right?

So, you may be wondering, why is the title of this post Bartering? What's the connection? Well, Terry did the quilting on my Ohio State t-shirt quilt. Instead of paying her, she wanted me to give her lessons on how to make one! How sweet is that? In just a couple of hours, I paid off my debt, had a wonderful visit with a dear friend, all the while doing something that I love!

Have you every bartered with someone - exchanging one service for another? I think it's pretty cool!

Happy Quilting, Friends!


  1. You make a T-shirt quilt sound pretty simple, but I'm still nervous to start one. Maybe this is enough of a gentle shove to get me going. Daughters have boxes of shirts they want magically turned into lovely quilts.
    The only time I can remember bartering was when a photographer and I swapped our skills. He wanted some sturdy, oversized bags with handles made for carrying his large framed photos from one show to the next. I made 7 or 8 for him, a simple task for me. In exchange, we got a MAJOR discount on the cost of our twin daughters' senior photos. Both parties were very satisfied with the swap.

  2. Thanks for the great tutorial! I am anxious to start the one I have been saving older T-shirts for to give to my hubby. I did have a demo class in my old Quilt Bee in Va. but I am glad to have new angles (photos!) and new insight here on your blog!

    Hope you will come by my quilting blog also, piece-fulness, which can be accessed off my main blog, A Colorful World. See you then!

  3. Have you seen the new Urban Renewal and other Urban OSU football t-shirt? I have a drawer of Ohio Festival t-shirts that one day will be a quilt -- our Ohio memory quilt when we move. Great barter. Thanks for the tips.

  4. As a former 4-H member and volunteer I would love to see your friends t-shirt quilt when she is done with it!!


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