Step 5: The Layout
The T-shirt quilt blocks are assembled in individual strips and then the strips are sewn together building the body of the quilt. From personal trials, I believe that constructing the quilt based on vertical strips is the easiest because there is a little more room for adjustment in the length of material available from your shirt block. This instructable will construct a quilt made from vertical strips .
Remember, be patient and flexible with your design...this is the most difficult part of the project! Think of this part as a puzzle...you may have to move or rethink the sizes of specific design blocks to make it all fit. There is no simple solution or step-by-step procedure, just keep fitting individual blocks by folding the excess material at the edges and re-arranging. Also, keep the color of the blocks in mind during this phase as well. I prefer varying my colors and not having too many like-colored blocks adjacent to each other.
It is best to work from widest design to narrowest design because the narrow designs can still be made to fit into wider strips if needed!
You will need floor space or a VERY large work table to fully lay out your T-shirt quilt (I have never owned a table that large). Collect design blocks from your widest pile (my 16 inch pile) and begin making your first vertical strip approximating the finished length of your quilt. Just fold the edges around the design at this stage of the layout to adjust for proper width and length of the strip. Don't forget, you will loose at least 1 inch of length per block with the seam allowance, so don't underestimate your desired final dimensions.
If your widest vertical strip is too short, start adding the needed pieces from the next-size-down pile (my 14 inch pile), just make sure that the overall material dimensions of the design block with border will meet the needed width for the strip.
Be sure not to exceed the finished size of your blanket and backing !
Continue laying out similar-width strips. My 5 strips are 16, 14, 12, 10, and 5 (pocket print-width) inches wide. Once the strips are assembled they can be arranged in any order. The easiest way to incorporate pocket prints is to design a vertical strip, however, a more interesting way to integrate these small prints is to incorporate them as "design blocks" within existing same-width strips.