T-Shirt Quilt Tutorial—A Go-To Gift for the Budget Impaired

First, let me preface this post by saying that in the photos below, most of the graphic t-shirts will have big, black blobs over the graphics. Just protecting some local copyrights, ya’ll.

Need a last minute gift on the cheap? With some graphic tees and very rudimentary sewing skills, you can whip up a great gift. This t-shirt quilt is super-easy, can be assembled in a couple of hours and is a great way to recycle the collection of t-shirts that is suffocating your dresser drawers. If you don’t have enough shirts, hit up your local thrift store. I’ve made these for several family members and they are always a hit. By shopping the sales at my local craft store on fabric, I’m able to create a custom gift for less than $10 a pop. Even better? This is fast project that I can have done in less than a day. Can’t beat that with a stick. Want to give it a try?

Here’s what you will need:

  • 13 graphic t-shirts (the quilt calls for 25 blocks, and you will get two blocks per shirt)
  • 2 yards of fleece fabric
  • Thread
  • A sewing machine, and the basic ability to operate it without injury to yourself or others
  • A rotary cutter
  • A rotary cutting mat
  • A yard stick
  • A piece of poster board
  • Scissors
  • An iron
  • Straight pins
  • Yarn (less than a couple of yards, so not much)
  • A needle with an eye large enough to thread the yarn through

So gather your supplies and let’s get started.

1) Using the poster board, cut out a 12-inch square that will be used as a template for the quilt blocks. I’ve already done so in the above picture. Also, run an iron over your t-shirts, so they won’t be all wrinkly. You’ll get more uniform cuts that way.

2) Working one at a time, lay out a shirt on your cutting mat:

3) Center the poster board template over the graphic, and using your yard stick as a guide at each edge, cut around all four sides of the template with a rotary cutter, ensuring that you are cutting through both the front and back of the shirt:

Assuming you haven’t chopped your finger off yet, you should now have to two squares of t-shirt:

Repeat this process for all 13 shirts, and you should end up with 26 squares.

4) Now it’s time to lay out your quilt, and decide how you want it to look. The quilt will should be 5 blocks by 5 blocks (you’ll have one block leftover from the 13 shirts you cut out):

5) Following your layout and working one row at a time, pin the right sides of the shirts together, and sew them using a half-inch seam allowance:

Once you have your five rows completed, sew them together, also using a half-inch seam, thereby creating your quilt top.

6) Once your quilt top is complete, it’s time to put the whole shebang together. Lay your fleece out on the floor, and then lay the quilt top on top of it, making sure the right side of the fleece faces the right side of the quilt top. Pin them together carefully:

7) Starting toward the bottom center of the quilt, sew the quilt top to the fleece all around the edges(again, half-inch seam), but make sure to leave a 6-8-inch opening at the bottom of the quilt so you can turn the quilt right-side out:

Once you’ve sewn the quilt top to the fleece, trim off any excess fleece and carefully turn the quilt right-side out. Once you do, tuck the raw edges of the opening toward the inside, and top-stitch the opening closed:

8) Now it’s time to tie off the quilt. Cut 16 lengths of yarn, about 6-8 inches long each. Thread one length of yarn through the large-eyed yarn needle and insert the needle at an “intersection” where four t-shirt square corners meet. Pull the needle through to the back-side of the quilt, and re-insert the needle close to the first needle hole, threading the yarn back to the top-side of the quilt. This can be kind of difficult because of the layers, but it can be done, I promise. Tie the two yarn ends together, and tie them again to make a knot. Trim the yarn ends to a length you like:

Do this for all 16 “intersections.”

And ta-da!

Now, have a cocktail and bask in your coolness. I know I sure am.

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