April 15, 2015

diy t-shirt quilt

DIY T-Shirt Quilt Tutorial

If you've been following along on Instagram, you know that I've been working a t-shirt quilt. I'm excited with how it turned out & I'm already planning for the next one based on what I learned through this process. If you've never tried your hand at quilting, the good news is: neither had I! 

How to make your own t-shirt quilt

Truthfully this quilt has been a long time coming. Heather cleaned her wardrobe out about a year ago (go ahead & scoff at my time-management skills) & asked that I make something out of her ill-fitting t-shirts. Obviously they are all Tegan & Sara shirts. If you're a long-time reader of the blog you know that's Heather's favorite band. If the amount of Tegan & Sara related tutorials isn't enough to prove her love (here, here, & here... oh & here too) let me say it this way: I know Heather loves me, but I also understand that if Sara Quin showed up on our doorstep, I would need to start packing my bags. 

I love the illustrations on these tees. Most of them are done by Tegan & Sara's go-to graphics gal, Emy Storey

Keep all your old tees without feeling like a hoarder by turning them into a quilt!

What do you do with a butt-load of t-shirts that are too sentimental to discard? You turn them into a quilt. This quilt turned out a little smaller than I expected. Nine t-shirts make for a nicely-sized throw for chillier evenings on the couch. If you want to make a twin-sized blanket, I would recommend doubling the amount of shirts used. 
How to transform your old t-shirts into a quilt

To make this quilt, I used: 
DIY T-Shirt Quilt: Planning is King

Step 1. Form a plan // Super important step here, guys. Be prepared before you go into this. Forming a plan means laying your t-shirts out in the order you want them, measuring them to make sure your blanket will be big enough, figuring out the overall yardage so you know how much batting & backing to buy, etc. 

When I laid out the shirts I realized I wouldn't have enough to do an entire blanket, so I opted to use the backs of the t-shirts to add more length & width.

DIY T-Shirt Quilt: Measure twice, cut once!

Step 2. Deconstruct shirts // Carefully cut off the sleeves, then cut the front from the back by cutting up the sides of each shirt. 

I dissected each t-shirt entirely to get a more accurate measurement of each graphic. Super glad I did this, because I realized I had measured across the shoulders & not in-between the sleeves! It's always good to double-check. 

Your smallest shirt will determine the size of each subsequent shirt piece. 

DIY T-Shirt Quilt: Interfacing makes your life much easier

Step 3. Cut the fusible interfacing // Having determined the size of your t-shirt pieces in step 1 (or 2, if you're clumsy like me), cut your interfacing to that size. My t-shirt pieces were 12"x18", so I cut my interfacing to the same measurement. Cutting your interfacing to the appropriate size is way easier than cutting your stretchy t-shirts right off the bat. I cut my interfacing on a cutting board, using a heavy object (my cell phone) to hold it in place. A rotary cutter may be more effective for this step. 

Do not try & make a t-shirt quilt without fusible interfacing! T-shirts are made of stretchable material which will just lead to lots of flipping tables frustration in the long run. The interfacing transforms your stretch-knit to a more rigid fabric which will keep its shape. 

DIY T-Shirt Quilt: Iron that bad boy!

Step 4. // Adhere interfacing to shirt pieces // Set your iron to a low/cotton setting, no steam. Lay your shirt with the graphic side down (never iron the top side of a graphic tee!), & iron out any wrinkles. Lay your interfacing with the rougher side down on top of your t-shirt piece. Make sure the interfacing is in line with the graphic. Iron the interfacing in place, & cut off the excess t-shirt fabric. Do this for all of your t-shirt pieces. Now you can start sewing your pieces together!

DIY T-Shirt Quilt: Press 'em!

Step 5. Patching // Arrange your t-shirt pieces in the desired rows, & pin the pieces in each row so they are side-by-side. For instance, my quilt was a 4x4 grid, so I pinned four at a time. With a straight stitch sew the pieces together, piece by piece, keeping the inseams the same size. Do this for all of your rows. Once your rows are complete, sew each row to the next in the same manner. 

Step 6 . Iron your inseams // With a warm iron, press your inseams open, as seen above. 

DIY T-Shirt Quilt: Patience is so, so important when quilting for the first time. You can do it!

Step 7. Batting & backing // Lay your completed quilt topper (right side up) on your batting, then on your backing (right side down). Pin in place along the sides & at the patch cross-sections on the quilt topper.

For this step I left lots of excess batting & backing to leave room for any human error on my part. Like I said, this was my first go at a quilt, so I wasn't expecting my pinning to be perfect the first time. I found that draping my quilt on the ironing board allowed all the fabrics to hang straight & it helped me avoid pinning any excess wrinkles or bunches. Take your time & pin it completely flat. 

Step 8. Sew along the salvage edge // Take a deep breath, & sew with a straight stitch along the edge of your quilt, through the backing & batting. This was the most frustrating step for me because I'm wasn't used to sewing something so heavy before. Try & fold your quilt in a way so the entire thing isn't hanging to the ground. The weight of it draping off my sewing table made me mess up more than once. 

DIY T-Shirt Quilt: Topstitching

Step 9. Topstitching // There's some room for creativity with this step. You'll need to do some measure of topstitching to keep the quilt topper, batting, & backing in place. For my quilt I stitched with a straight seam along the intersections on the quilt topper on both sides of the seams.  

DIY T-Shirt Quilt: Pin on the bias tape & you're almost there!
DIY T-Shirt Quilt: Sew in place & done!

Step 10. Binding // We're almost done! Open the bias tape & close it over the raw edge of the quilt. Leave a few extra inches of hanging bias tape at the start, & pin all along the edges of your quilt. When you reach the end of one piece of bias tape, overlap the second piece on top, folding the raw edges under. For turning the corners I made a single fold in the bias tape. When you've pinned all the way around, overlap with your hanging bias tape in the same manner as when you started a new piece. 

With a straight stitch & in corresponding thread color, sew along the entire perimeter of your quilt along the bias tape. 

How to sew your first t-shirt quilt


Oh Tegan, oh Sara. Now you have permanent residence in our lives, forever embodied in a warm snuggly quilt. That's not creepy, right?


// Amazon links used in this non-sponsored post. Amazon is an affiliate sponsor of WeCanMakeAnything. //

Related // Turn old t-shirts into reusable shopping bags


  1. This is awesome. I have never made a quilt either, but these are such great tips. Maybe one day..

  2. I've totally been meaning to do this with all of my old pub crawl tees! I love how yours turned out :)

  3. Looks good,I can't wait to try. Thank you