T-Shirt or Memory Quilts are a wonderful way to preserve special times, places, events,
or activities in your life. If you have a collection of t-shirts and are considering making
one yourself, or having one made, this blog is just a quick look at how they go together.
This pictorial is not meant to be a step-by-step guide to make a quilt, and if you're planning to put one together on your own, please let me suggest you do some on-line research or purchase an instruction book or pattern. I'd hate to have you use this blog and then realize you need more information than it contains.
Collect your t-shirts and examine the designs on all that you plan to use. (20 blocks will make a nice sized lap quilt - 4 across and 5 down.) Make sure you measure and note the t-shirt with the largest design. Also note any wording on sleeves or designs on the back.
Cut on the side seams and cut off the sleeves.
Using a Teflon or non-stick ironing sheet so fusible interfacing doesn't stick to the ironing board,
press your fusible interfacing to the wrong side of your shirt. I use the back of an old t-shirt as a
pressing cloth over the interfacing. The iron slides better. Press using the setting
instructions that come with the interfacing you purchase.
Using a quilters square ruler or template, mark the area to be cut. If using a rotary cutter
(that thing that looks like a pizza wheel), cut your block around your square ruler.
A 15" ruler makes a nice sized finished block.
Blocks are cut in various sizes, ready for the framing or "sashing" fabrics that
bring them up to the block size you have decided to use. You can get fancy and
choose different fabrics that coordinate with the individual blocks, or you can
choose one fabric to frame all the blocks the same. Personally, I prefer the fun,
"scrappy" look of using different fabrics.
Add your framing or sashing on your t-shirt block. If you have more than one graphic in the block
(something that was on the sleeve, for example), design and sew the sections together.
I use 1/4" seams to sew the fabric on to the blocks.
This is where you decide how you're going to quilt your t-shirt quilt. If you are going to send it out and have someone with a long-arm quilting machine do that step, then you would square up all your blocks to the same size, lay them out in a pleasing design and sew them all together. If you're more adventurous and decide you're going to quilt it yourself, the "quilt as you go" method works very well for sewing your blocks together.
Cut your batting and your backing fabric about 2" wider and longer than your block, so that when you lay them out to make the quilt sandwich you have 1" excess on all 4 sides. I like to use fusible batting and iron it to the block (being extremely careful NOT to touch the hot iron to the t-shirt graphic). However, cotton batting will work just as well.
Once you have your 3 layers, you will need to mark your block for quilting. I used a straight edge
and a chalk wheel to mark an "X" on the block then echoed it a few times to fill in the space.
Make sure you check the batting instructions as most will tell you how far apart you need
to quilt in order for the batting not to shift or bunch up with use and laundry.
Pin the layers well before sewing so the layers don't shift. And make sure you have a "walking foot"
on your machine. You really need one to keep the layers from shifting while you're sewing.
Once your blocks are quilted, square them up. You should now have 20 (or however many you
decided to put into your quilt) quilted blocks ready to assemble using the "quilt as you go" method.