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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). You'll be swimming in the creative deep end in no time ;)

Lay out the T-shirt on your cutting mat. Smooth it out as best you can and center the 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'll 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 making sure it adheres strongly all the way around. Trim off the excess fusible interfacing, 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 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's any stretch left the feed dogs will do the work of easing it in.

Well there you have it! Have you ever tried a T-shirt quilt or are you thinking about making one? I hope these tips are helpful!

Happy Sunday,


Follow all my quilty adventures on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Visit my Youtube channelfor free tutorials and tips. If you like my patterns, you can buy them on Etsy, and here on the website.


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