DIY T-shirt quilt tutorial - step one, the shirts

Hi there T-shirt owner! Hey, that works for everyone, we all own T-shirts. But you are probably reading this because you have decided you want a T-shirt quilt and you are going to make it yourself. Yay! If you can iron and sew a straight line, you will accomplish your goal.  Coincidentally, I am making a T-shirt quilt for my son in law.  As I made his quilt, I snapped pictures and the finished tutorials are four blog posts. Break your project into four stages and you can do this!  So here we go, DIY T-shirt quilt tutorial – step one, the shirts.


  • 12 t-shirts
  • 6 yards of knit iron on interfacingt shirt quilt re 0 (it is 17 inches wide)
  • 1 and a quarter yard of sashing fabric
  • 1/2 yard cornerstone fabric
  • 1 yard of border fabric
  • 1 yard binding fabric
  • 4 yards backing fabric and batting

To make a T-shirt quilt you have to part with, give up or otherwise make available 12 shirts. I make my T-shirt quilts with 12, there are some out there which use more. I also put sashing in-between as T-shirts are so stretchy, they need to be stabilized. If you see an example with say 20 shirts and no sashing I would be really leery.  Sometimes pictures are better than reality. My son in law, Joe, gave me a whole pile to choose from because I love choices.

T-shirt quilt re1Select the 12 shirts you are going to use and cut off the sleeves and back. This commits the T-shirt to the quilt! You can do this at all once or as you go along. I do it as I go along as I hate repeating a step over and over again.T-shirt quilt re2

Next cut a piece of interfacing about 15 inches long. This is longer than your square and gives you room to work with.

You are going to iron on the knit interfacing. This will keep the squares from curling up and will provide some stability to the T-shirt knit. There are two stages of ironing, first you do quick passes to secure it to the shirt and then you use a damp press cloth to really adhere it to the shirt. The instructions are with the interfacing. I got mine at Joanne Fabrics and had an adventure (of course!) T-shirt quilt re4doing so. You can read about it here.

The next step is really important, you have to cut out a really accurate 12.5 inch square.  Quilters own this tool but if you don’t have one you might haveT-shirt quilt re5 to make one out of cardboard. Or borrow one. Or buy one and give it to a quilter later as a present. Use your rotary cutter to cut around the square.

There you go, one perfect 12.5 inch square which is stabilized. Even if you can’t sew, you can do this step. I made my very first T-shirt quilt for the daughter of a friend. As I was doing the sewing, I had her do this step and she did just fine with no sewing experience.

You’ve finished one, now repeat this 12 more times. This is why Joe gave me a choice, at this point I start thinking about design and what looks good next to each other. I rejected a few T-shirts and T-shirt quilt re6even asked him for another shirt. Yes, I can be picky!

When I have all twelve done, I lay them out and rearrange them. I didn’t want to have the same color or logo right next to each other. Here is what I decided on.

Next step will be the sashing and corner stone blocks. You have to choose a fabric which goes with everything. I already had fabric from a trip to Crimson Tate, a fabulous quilt store in Indianapolis. You can read about it here.

I congratulate you if you’ve made it this far. If you chicken out after this stage, you are actually just fine. You’ve done the annoying work, it would be easier to find someone to finish it at this stage than with just a pile of T-shirts. But you are going to finish it yourself, aren’t you?

If I wanted to, I could probably make a T-shirt quilt for money once a week, that is how many requests I get. I don’t sew for money and people would actually not want to pay me what I would charge so it all works out. But think about it, if you get good at this you could make some money! Ask at your local quilt shop if they get inquiries. Just a suggestion and not one I want for myself. I sew for my family and give it to them with love!

Making this quilt for Joe makes me Sew happy!

Want to see other quilts I wish I had time to make? Check out my Facebook page. Like the page and join the conversation or at get a smile from my quilt funnies! If you want to keep reading my blog, you can subscribe. To do so, type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. That’s all, you’re done. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Want to see another post about T-shirts? I knew it! Click here.

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    Kathy Mathews

    My passions are quilting and sewing. Add to that French, Spanish, books, swimming, travels, new restaurants, yoga and chocolate and you have me. All of these are best shared with family and friends. Except for chocolate, don't touch my chocolate. You can email me at

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