T-Shirt Quilts–cutting and stabilizer

Someone asked on Twitter last night about how to make a t-shirt quilt–try getting that into 140 characters–so I thought I’d share the process I use for making a t-shirt quilt. About 3 months ago my daughter shipped a box to me of t-shirts that she had in storage and wanted to reduce to have made into a quilt. The box sat in the middle of my office for awhile and then I sat down one night while watching TV and cut them up.

The way I cut up t-shirts is that I cut up each side and across the shoulders so that I have a whole front and back. Then I cut off the sleeves and cut out the neck. If the neckline is something like a polo or Henley shirt, I leave that in place until after the shirt has been stabilized. Later I will replace the bulky placket with some plain fabric from the tail of the shirt. Or, if there is an extra logo somewhere on the shirt, I’ll replace it with that. The shirt has to be stabilized first before doing any stitching on it.

The most important thing is to keep the fabric you’re working with larger than your finished block size of 14″. Remember that you can cut things off AFTER it’s stabilized. But it’s very hard to stabilize if it’s cut to size first. 

If the front and back both have logos, I keep both of them. If one side is completely plain, I throw it away or put it in the rag bag for those who work on cars around here. Even if the back has a small logo, it can be used in case an extra block is needed. Small shirts can have borders added. Sock tops and small logos can be combined into a single block. If there is a small logo/date on the back or front of a shirt, or a date on a sleeve, that small piece can be stabilized and stitched onto the shirt front.

My goal is to have 14″ blocks to stitch into my quilt. Here’s a picture of some of the shirts my daughter sent. One has crystals in it–that’s going to be difficult to quilt around, and she sent a pair of socks. Some of these shirts are very small so will be combined into a single block or have some border rows to bring them up to size.


Tomorrow I’ll talk about stabilizing the shirts. I use something called French Fuse which is a nylon tricot interfacing. This is also called Easy Knit interfacing. I found it on Joann’s website, but they’re out of stock. I did find it on Amazon.com–of all places–they must have everything 🙂 When looking for this, key “knit interfacing” into the search box and you will get results.