Do you have a bunch of tee shirts that you haven't worn? Are your dresser drawers overflowing with race commemoratives, favorite team tees and the like? Here's a clever way to keep those tees in circulation.... make them into a quilt!
Sort through your tee shirts.
Stack them by color and/or design.
Determine how many of them you want to use. The size and design of your finished quilt will depend on the amount of material you have available.
14x14 inch (35.5cm) squares are a common and comfortable size to use, but you can enlarge that to 18x18 inch (45cm) if the shirts are XXL and shrink that to 10x10 (25cm) or less if you will be using children's shirts.
Common blanket sizes are:
Crib - 42" x 72" (3x4 or 3x5 shirt grid = 12 to 15 shirts)
Twin - 66" x 96" (5x8 or 6x9 grid = 40 to 54 shirts)
Double/full - 81" x 96" (6x8 or 7x9 grid = 48 to 63 shirts)
Queen - 90" x 102" (8x9 or 9x10 grid = 72 to 90 shirts)
Standard King - 108" x 102" (10x10 or 10x11 grid = 100 to 110 shirts)
California King - 102" x 110" (10x11 or 11x11 grid = 110 to 121 shirts)
Note: you can use "sashing" or strips of cloth between the T-shirt panels to reduce the number of shirts needed... these numbers are approximate, and are for a quilt top made of nothing but tees, with no sashing.
Evaluate your collection. Is there a common color scheme? A theme that runs through them? Any patterns or messages that you would like to emphasize?
Choose a pattern. A simple grid pattern is the easiest, but you can get as creative as you like. For example:
45 degree block turn
22.5 degree turn
Launder all of the shirts. Do not use fabric softeners or anti-static sheets.
Lay the tee shirt out flat. You may want to iron the shirts (note that many designs on t-shirts have transfers that may melt, so test a small area prior to ironing) to get out any wrinkles still left after washing and drying.
Determine what part of the tee shirt you want in the quilt and trace the perimeter of your template.
Cut your square panels from the shirts using a template. A square Plexiglas template can make rotary cutting of these panels a breeze.
Note: Remember to allow a half inch (1.25 cm) of seam allowance all around.
Stabilize the tee shirt panels by ironing a non-woven fusible interfacing or lightweight, fusible tricot interfacing to the back sides. This prevents the T-shirts from stretching or sagging during construction.
Check to be certain that the interfacing has adhered properly.
Once you've stabilized the knit tee shirt fabric, you are ready to sew as you would with "normal" fabrics.
Decide how you'll sew the panels together. Sewing the panels in columns or rows and then joining those together for the complete panel is the most common method of constructing a quilt top.
Sashing between blocks helps to stabilize the edges of the knit as well
Sashing between blocks helps to stabilize the edges of the knit as well as adding width and height to the finished quilt panels.
Machine quilting in an "all over" pattern also helps hold the layers together and prevent sagging and stretching.
You might use a fusible webbing and fuse the shirt panels to muslin as an alternative to the tricot or Pellon interfacing.
Use your "walking foot" to sew the seams to prevent seam stretching or bunching.
Hand quilting a finished tee shirt quilt is quite tough on one's hands. Go with a long arm quilting machine instead.
Scissors and needles are sharp. Handle with appropriate care.
Things that you will need:
T-shirts (see size suggestions above for quantities)
Pellon or fusible webbing and muslin for stabilization