You too, can make your own t-shirt quilt!

And now, here is my long awaited Gamma Rho t-shirt quilt! 

This, friends, has been on my “to-do” list for at least 5+ years and finally a few weeks ago, I just decided that I should do it.  And ironically, I was wearing my only gamma parafanelia that is now not part of this blanket whilst making it – my banquet sweatshirt!!  And now, I am finally finished with the tutorial.  I must admit that I have been procrastinating this, only because I knew it would take a while to write.  But glad to get it done and hopefully it will be beneficial to you!!  And I will make an apology up front for the lack of super awesome picture color and quality!  Most of this was done late at night and I only use a point and shoot so there is sometimes no way to get a great picture without it being to dark or too bright.   So here it goes! 

Materials:

T-shirts

*I used 18 shirts (but several fronts and backs of each shirt) which made 30 – 12″ squares.  That with the border, is approximately a full/queen size blanket

Quilters square (I used the 12.5″ size)

Fabric Marker (or sharpi)

Straight pins

Cotton Batting

Material for back of quilt

Thread

Yarn

Darning needle

Tape Measure

Scratch Paper

Iron

Ironing Board

Fabri-Tac (if needed)

Sewing machine – obviously 🙂

 

Step-by-Step process

 1.  First decide how many squares you want to make.  It should be an even number so that you can make a square or a rectagle size quilt.  If you end up with an un-even number, you can always add a blank square in from one of your shirts.  Thats what I did with one, you will see later. 

2.  Use your quilter sqaure ruler to cut out your squares from your shirts.  I lined my sqaure up where I wanted it to be, traced around the square with the marker, then cut out the squares.  If you have a rotary cuter, that would make this step a lot faster.  When you are finished, you end up with a lovely pile of tshirt squares like this:

3.  Lay out your squares in the desired pattern.  I just started by laying a few out and ended up re-arranging a few times until I got it just the way I wanted it to be.

** You are going to work in rows for the next part.  I worked in horizontal rows, but it doesnt matter as long as you remember what you are doing. 

4.  Start by lining the first two squares together with the front sides facing inwards, and pin the squares together.  Then keep adding on one square at a time until each square of the row you are working on is pinned together making a row of squares. I finish this process for each horizontal row before I move on to the first sewing step.

5.  I use a scratch paper to number my rows so I dont forget the order I want them to be in.

6.  Then sew each square together with a 1/4″ seam until you have all your rows finished. 

7.  Next you will need to press all the seams.  This is an essential step because it makes it easier to line up the squares and it looks much nicer in the end.

A view from the back

A view from the front. 

8.  Now you will start assembling your rows.  Pin them together in the same fashion as before but making sure that you get each square lined up together nicely.  I usually put a pin at each 4 square intersection for extra stability while handling the fabric.  After you have two rows pinned together, sew a 1/4″ seam.

9.  Continue in the same fashion until all your rows are sewn together.  You now have the front side of your tshirt quilt completed!  YAY!

**Omit this next step if you dont need to do it for your quilt!

10.  Since I had an extra square that was blank, I wanted to add my Greek letters from my football jersey to spice it up a bit.  Plus I never wear that jersey anyway 🙂  I cut them out with scissors and used the Fabri-Tac to glue them onto the blank tshirt square.  Make sure you put some cardboard behind this as the glue tends to soak through a  bit.  Once it is dry, you can move on to the next steps.

11.  Iron the seams again as you did previously

**I usually wait until I have made the front before I decide what color of backing I want and how much batting I need.  I chose navy blue for the backing, since it went well with my shirts and because it is one of Gammas colors.  Also the batting I chose is a relatively thin material but is super warm because it is cotton.  I think it is a traditional quilt batting, not 100% sure though.

12.  After you have purchased those materials, decide how thick you want your border to be and cut out the appropiate amount of material.  I made a 3″ border for my blanket.  Make sure to allow for lots of extra “wiggle room” with your backing material.  Double the border length and add 2  inches. 

13.  Lay out all your pieces like this with the front piece on top:

14.  Use a measuring tape and a marker to mark your border piece on the batting and cut it down to size. 

15.  For this part, I work from the middle of one edge to the corners to keep the material from stretching weirdly.  Wrap your backing material around the batting, tuck the frayed edges in, and pin it in place.  You will overlap the top piece by 1/2″.  Use a measuring tape to make sure you are pinning it evenly throughout.

Now this is probably the hardest part of it all…the CORNERS…bum, bum, bum!!!!!!!

16.  I leave all the corners for last as you can see below.  This is kind of hard to do because it is hard to make a nice pretty, straight line, but you get the hang of it after a few tries.  You could also practice on some other material before you do this part of your quilt.  First you cut off some of the extra material.  Then you fold in on one side and let another side be the top of the seam.  Try your best to make a diagonal line and pin it down with a few pins.

SEE:

17.  Then you will sew a 1/4″ seam all around the square edge where you pinned.  And then lastly you will sew the diagnoal lines.  YAY, all done with the sewing part!!!!

Now for the finishing touches:

18.  Use your yarn and darning needle to tack down each four square intersection.  I used two pieces of yarn for each intersection.  I cut them way longer than necessary so I had plenty to work with.  Start by pushing the yarn through from the top to the bottom,  

19.  And back up from the bottom through to the top like so. 

Then tie in two really tight knots and you end up with this:

If you dont want to tack with yarn, make sure you tack by sewing a few stitches at each intersection or with a needle and thread.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, TA-DA!!!! 

I am now finished with the first of many t-shirts quilts!  I am sooooo so happy with how it turned out because the shirts are so soft and made with lots of fun colors and were not getting any use in a box for several years. I am ALWAYS cold, so I get a lot of good use out of them now. 

Also, as mentioned on my facebook page, I had called this the ultimate recycling project because I made a blanket out of these shirts, but I also made tshirt yarn out of the parts I didnt use.  After I get enough, I am going to make either a shower mat or a bed for the cat and dog.  We’ll see.  I LOVE recycling and getting new uses out of old things so this was the perfect revival of my old shirts.  If you have any questions, please feel free to message me or leave a comment and I will try my best to help out.  And click here for the tutorial for making t-shirt yarn.

This was all the carnage that was left over,  a whole bunch of sleeves and bottom edges of my shirts 🙂 

5 thoughts on “You too, can make your own t-shirt quilt!

    • i do miss our craft nights…i havent been to or organized one since well before we moved here 😦 if only i could craft all day long, one day maybe!!

    • i enjoy both very much, but obviously do more with knitting and crocheting these days. hopefully I can work the sewing back into my regular crafting though bc I got a new machine for christmas and have only used it a few times.

  1. Love it Shannon! I just went through my boxes in the garage the other day and I found all of my high school and Gamma t-shirts I have been saving for a quilt. But I’m not sure if I am brave enough to try it! I’ll second Katie and say I wish you were closer!

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