Saturday, July 16, 2011

T-Shirt Quilt Tutorial - Part 1

Hi there!  For all of you who want to learn how to make a t-shirt quilt, I'm going to tell you my secrets.  As always, I don't claim to know all there is to know about making t-shirt quilts.  I have made several, and I've learned plenty by doing it.  Trial by fire, if you will.  So, in order to keep you out of the proverbial fire, here's what I know.

Materials (Part 1 only!)
Pellon 911FF Featherweight Fusible Interfacing (any color)*
20-25 T-Shirts

Quilting Tools
Rotary Cutter
Cutting Mat & Ruler
6.5" Quilter's Square (optional)
Ironing Board
Press Cloth (optional)

*The amount of fusible interfacing you'll need will vary depending on the number/size of the shirts you're using.  I think it's always good to start with 5 or 6 yards if you don't want to buy a bolt.  I got a great deal on my bolt at  It's nice not having to worry about running out...

Step 1- Cut.

Use your rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat to cut your t-shirts.  Be very generous in cutting.  You will trim and square up the shirts later.  Don't throw scraps away just yet.  You may need them later.

If I'm making the quilt for someone else, I ask them to designate which part(s) of each shirt they want me to use with painter's tape.

This shirt only has a design on the front, so I just cut through the whole shirt.  

This shirt has designs on both sides, so I split the sides and opened the shirt before I cut my rectangles.

You should end up with a pile of rectangles like this...

For cutting pockets, I sometimes use a 6.5" quilter's square.  It's easier for me if they're all the same size.

Step 2- Interface.

Lay out one t-shirt rectangle on your ironing board, right side down.  Iron the back of your rectangle.  Never iron the right side of a t-shirt.  The design will melt!

Trim the interfacing to the proper size.  

I don't usually trim all sides, but that's because I'm slightly lazy ;)  I also don't mind if a little glue gets on my ironing board.  It doesn't happen that often.  I'm careful where I put the iron.

Fuse the interfacing in place according to the manufacturer's instructions.  Don't worry about trimming the interfacing down for seam allowances.

You should use a press cloth over your interfacing if you want to keep your iron nice and clean.  I had a nasty accident with fusible fleece a while back, so being clean is not a possibility for my poor iron.  I do use a spray bottle to keep everything nice and cool.

I cut 6.5" squares of interfacing for the pockets.  The edges won't line up perfectly, but they come pretty close.  Like I said earlier, you will do lots of trimming later.

So, that should keep you busy for a while.  If you've finished this part, here's Part 2!


  1. Such great tips! One question - do you aim for any consistent width or height when you are initially cutting the big pieces? I love the idea of using the masking tape to mark out the design. Can't wait for the second installment!

  2. To do the one I did, I had my Dad make me a 13x13 template, which is what I use for the larger emblems.

  3. I'm about to start on my second t-shirt quilt! Do you use a damp cloth to fuse the interfacing? I find that to be the most annoying part. Thanks for your tips!

  4. Just so my answers are posted for others to see...

    Lydia- I usually just try to cut them as close to the sleeve seams as I can. I have not done a quilt with XL+ shirts, so I might pick a measurement and try to stick to it with those larger shirts.

    Lauren P- I sometimes use a damp cloth, but more often than not, I just spray the top of the interfacing with water. My iron is already messed up from a previous experiment gone wrong, so if you are concerned about your iron becoming dirty, use a cloth.

  5. I accidentally got medium weight interfacing, will that be a problem??

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