Preparing T-Shirts for a Quilt

Have you been asked to make a T-shirt quilt for a friend or family member? ...just wait, it’s coming. They craftily ambush the unsuspecting quilter and before you know it you are cursing the day you were born!

I've actually made dozens of T-shirt quilts over the years and have amassed an arsenal of tricks to make just about any fabric work (including one quilt made entirely out of ski bibs from an Olympic downhill skier). I’m also going to show you how this trick works with fancy fabrics that typically are not associated with quilting. You will be swimming in the creative deep end in no time ;)

First lay out the T-shirt on your cutting mat. Smooth it out as best you can and center its design on your mat. Trim all four sides of the shirt off around the design, leaving a generous amount of background on each side for resizing when all your shirts are prepped.

(click to enlarge)

Lay the shirt block face down on your ironing board and give it a quick press from the back to smooth out any ripples. Unroll enough lightweight Fusible Interfacing and place it bumpy side down onto the back of the shirt. Line up at least two sides with the edges of the shirt block. Give it a quick press, moving the iron over the majority of the shirt block. You will want to use steam for this, it helps melt those bumps (glue dots) onto the shirt.

Using the nose of your iron, work your way along the edges of the shirt getting it to adhere well all the way around. Trim off the excess fusible interfacing,the and set the block aside.

Do not try and press from the front of the shirt, this is tempting to get it to stick better, but you could melt the emblem right off the shirt!

Trim the block down to your final size (whatever size you decide to do). You should have a nice crisp edge with the fusible well attached across the whole block.

Now, you’re ready to lay out your blocks and sashing pieces or border pieces depending on the look you’re going for. When you go to sew them together, it helps to put the shirt on the bottom towards the feed dogs and the woven fabric (sashing) on top against the pressure foot. This way if there is any stretch left the feed dogs will do the work of easing it in.

…Wanna see what else I’m working on?!

I bought three different fabrics to combine for a table runner (stay tuned for next week's blog post). There is a velvet, a heavy linen with metallic details and a flimsy dress fabric.

Here is the flimsy dress fabric before adding the fusible.

Once I pressed the fusible onto the back, trimmed it up and cut my pieces out it will be about the same as sewing on regular cotton, only shimmery :) I did the same process to the other two fabrics and now I am ready to sew them all together without stretching or other fussy issues!

Honeycomb Hexagon

Here are a couple of quilts I have done using shimmery gold satin as an accent color. I applied the fusible to the satin before piecing. Cool huh?!

Well there you have it! I would love to know if and how you use these new ideas?!

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Seattle, WA USA

© 2020 Krista Moser.