Seven Terrific Tips for T-Shirt Quilts!

T-shirt quilts make such nice gifts and serve as great reminders of fun times. Whether you are ready to retire some summer shirts or preparing to make a t-shirt quilt, these tips will help you get started!

Previously, I showed you where to begin when creating t-shirt quilts, cutting blocks, and putting it all together. These tips serve as a quick reference.

Press, Don’t Iron

When applying Interfacing, press but don’t iron to keep shirt fibers from stretching (or, use a heat press). Also, since your iron has a triangular head, alternate it’s direction when pressing for good, overall adhesion.

Use a Pressing Cloth

Ironing screen printing on shirt fronts can damage the print. Use a pressing cloth if shirts need ironed.

Arrange Blocks Before Sewing

Use a bed, the floor, or back patio. It is much easier to get your arrangement just right if you lay out the blocks before sewing. Have fun with this process and play with different options. 

Take a Photo

Once you have blocks arranged to your liking, take a photo with camera or phone. That gives you a visual reference when sewing the blocks together.

Use a Walking Foot

Because everything has a tendency to shift, use a walking foot when sewing your quarter-inch seams. Stitch with a 75/11 sharp, no need for a ballpoint needle.

Keep Shirt Back Pieces

Use a shirt back as a pressing cloth. That way, the steam can get through and work out wrinkles that may have set in over time.

You can also add embroidery to blank shirt blocks for unique personalization or to fill in where needed. Back pieces can also be used to build smaller pieces up to block size.

Press Seams

When adding sashing, press seams toward the sashing to eliminate bulk.

Do you have any tips that you would like to share? 

May your day be blessed with perfect stitches and GlitterFlex!!

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  • Bonnie Welsh - September 12, 2019

    With regard to layout: I’d try a few different ones and take pictures (with nothing sewn up) just to see what looks best to me. With regard to block size: you can always cut to the smallest size OR you can build that smaller size up with scraps from some backs that have plain areas to make a block larger, or even small sleeve or pocket logos cut into small squares (maybe even three tiny squares next to a medium block to build up to the larger size). An open redwork design might work well on a quilt for quilting as long as it’s fairly simple and not too detailed. You could always test to see the look on a back scrap you don’t intend on using in the quilt itself. If it turns out you like it, save it to use as part of your quilt label for the back. I think you’ll need some sort of quilting within the blocks depending upon your block size but most t-shirt quilt blocks are too large to not have some quilting in there to stabilize the batting and such. Hope this helps.

  • Brenda - September 12, 2019

    I bought the cheapest, fusible interfacing that joanns carries online. I bought it when it was half off. It worked great for me. I had seen a tutorial on you tube and the girl made them alot and that read what she recommended. I believe it was 71F.
    I have made alot of memory pillows from t- shirts. I am about to begin a t- shirt quilt for my daughter from her dance shirts. She wants the fronts and the backs on there. The banks all have the names of the girls that were at the recitals. I am trying to decide on how to lay that out. Would you put the back next to the front? Or maybe at a diagonal? They are all bright colors with a different color for each year. I bought an embroidery/ quilting design off ballerinas that I would like to use maybe on the gray fabric I bought for sashings. Would it be too much to go over the shirts with it? They are like red work. Single line and very open. The shirts are all similar sizes except the first one she had when she was 4. So I thought I would make each t- shirt block around the size the smallest one will make. If anyone has ideas on layouts or the all over quilting, I would love to hear your ideas. I am thinking of using maybe pink thread if I do it on just the sashings but if I did an all over quilting with it I may have to use white or a variegated cinde all the shirts are different, bright colors.
    Any ideas?

  • cheri hart - September 03, 2019

    use a good quality fusible interfacing, I found the lighter weight interfacing didn’t work as well.

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