Sunday, 1 January 2012

T-shirt quilts

Many years ago I was at Kits Beach in Vancouver and saw someone with a beach blanket made from old t-shirts.  What a great idea!  My own dresser drawers were bursting at the seams with old t-shirts that I just couldn't seem to part with, and now I know what I'm going to do with them.  I even started collecting t-shirts from my travels with the purpose of adding them to my quilt.  

Step 1:
Cut the shirts into 14' squares.
- Sometimes the decal or emblem is on the sleeve or lapel, in which case, I cut the emblem and patch it onto a 14" square blank shirt section cut from the front or back of that same shirt.
- If you have child sized t-shirts, you won't be able to cut a 14" square because they are too small.  In that case, cut out the emblem and sew it onto a blank t-shirt square
- If your printed emblem is longer than 14" just cut the peice to 14" wide x custom length, then find another t-shirt with a small emblem and pair them together for a combined length of 28". This will ensure your grid is balanced out.
- If your t-shirt has something memorable printed on both the front and back, cut out and use both.
- Sometimes the thing you want to incorporate onto the t-shirt quilt isn't actually a t-shirt.  It can be a pair of memorable jeans or a university jacket.  In that case I'll cut the peices of the item and sew together a 'collage' of the bits onto a 14" square of t-shirt fabric.
- If you don't have enough t-shirt squares to make the size quilt you want, consider adding photo transfers of members of the family or favourite travel photos.  Print the photos onto t-shirt iron-on transfers (available at office supply stores), then iron onto 14" blank t-shirt squares.  Another idea is to have the children in your life create their own t-shirt square with fabric paint. 

Step 2:
Blanket size
Based on how many square you have, you can determine the size of your blanket.
1-2 squares - toss cushion - with one t-shirt square and a selected back fabric (or t-shirt squares on both sides) you can create a cover for a toss cushion.  IKEA has the best prices for cushion forms - check out the size options before you cut your t-shirts up.
16 squares - 4 square x 4 square will make a nice sized couch throw.
24 squares - 6 squares x 4 squares will make a small beach blanket or cover a single bed
30 squares - 6 squares x 5 squares will make a medium sized beach blanket or cover a double bed
36 squares - 6 squares x 6 squares will make a large beach blanket or cover a queen bed

Step 3:
The blanket needs a backing.  You can either use a solid fabric backing, or if you have enought t-shirt squares you can double side your blanket with t-shirt squares on both sides.

Step 4:
Blanket style
Beach blanket:  I love the idea of using the t-shirt quilt as beach blankets, which means I didn't need any batting for warmth between the layers. Also very easy to launder.
Bed cover: By adding a layer of batting between the layers it's easy to turn the blanket into a warm quilt that can be used as a bed cover or couch throw.

Step 5:
Start sewing
Sew columns of t-shirt squares.
Press the seams flat.
Sew the columns together.
Press seams flat.
Once you have the 'front' of the t-shirt quilt sewn together into one large sheet, then it's time to connect the front to the back.  With right sides facing, sew three of the four outer edges together, then turn inside out and press edges. This is when the carefull pinning and time consuming part starts. Taking one row at a time, carefully pin the front to back along the seams of the t-shirt squares.  Once pinned, connect the front to back by sewing along the seams. Once you get to the open edge bottom, press a folded edge on both the front and back, pin and sew together.

I just love these t-shirt quilts. I have created one for myself, as well as for family and friends.  If you'd like me to create a quilt from your memorable t-shirts, I have been known to hire out my services as well. The cost is roughly $10/square + any materials required (ie. solid fabric backing, batting for quilted blanket).

Heather Fulcher

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