Introduction: T-shirt Quilt

About: Life is a series of projects. Woo-hoo!

What do you do with beloved college/concert/sports t-shirts when they start to wear out or pile up? Make a quilt to show off all of your favorite college parties, activities, intermural teams, and clubs. Deck out your room with this awesome quilt and wrap up each night with your favorite memories. This quick and inexpensive quilt is for absolute beginners and it makes a great gift, like this one. There is no hand sewing required, and you can make it in a day or less.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

I made a large throw quilt at 4' by 5'. You can size your quilt to fit your bed or resize as needed by using more or fewer t-shirts. I used 12 t-shirts for my quilt. Here is everything required to make a quilt.

1.12 t-shirts - (or 9 or 16 or more if you want a different sized quilt). If you don't have enough t-shirts to make an even quilt, you can use the front and back of one or more t-shirts to make two squares on the quilt.

2.A flat sheet - I used a queen sized sheet but I had quite a bit of fabric left over. I would have used a smaller sheet but I didn't want to buy one since I already had an extra one in my closet.

3. One bag of batting- Batting is the stuffing layer inside the quilt. It is sold by the size of your finished product. I bought a "throw blanket" sized roll, but it is also sold in twin, full, queen and king. You can buy quilt batting at any fabric or craft store and most Walmarts.

4. A sewing machine- Before I had my own, I borrowed my mom's. I've also routinely borrow a friend's machine in exchange for making her one of these blankets, it was a good trade. Check with your RA, they can usually scrounge up anything.

5. 15" x 15" cardboard or foamboard (optional)

Step 2: Cut Your T-shirt Squares

I used a 15" piece of foam board left over from an old science presentation (yeah! recycling). Make sure it is a perfect square (double yeah! - it's a chance to use the pythagorean theorem in real life). Slip the board inside your first t-shirt to center the design on your square and then cut around the edges to get your quilt squares. I used a small bowl to prop up the board and make it easier to cut the t-shirts. Cut out all of your t-shirts in the same manner. Don't throw away your extra t-shirt pieces, they make great cleaning rags.

Step 3: Arrange Your Shirts and Sew Them Together

Lay out your quilt by arranging your shirt squares in a grid to get a nice looking pattern of colors. You may find that you need to cut some additional shirts and switch squares in and out to get an overall look you like. When you are satisfied with the order of your squares, take the top row and sew the sides together. Put the first two squares face to face and sew the side together, make sure the seam is on one side and the face of the t-shirt is on the other (see picture). When you've got the first two squares sewn together, lay them back down in place and line it up with the next square on that row. Sew that square onto your row. Sew each row of t-shirts together in the same manner. While sewing the shirts try to keep the seams at 1/2" from the edge so the squares while line up evenly.

Step 4: Sew the Rows Together

Now that you have rows, take the first and second row and sew the edge together, the seam should be facing you and the finished side of the t-shirt facing away (see picture).

Step 5: Add the Trim and Backing

Take your sheet and cut a 3" strip the length of the top row. Cut another one for the bottom. Sew the strips onto the top and bottom of the t-shirt grid, just like sewing the rows together. Now cut two more strips to trim the sides. These strips will be a different length from the first set so be sure to measure from the top of the grid to the bottom including the top and bottom trim. Sew the side strips onto the grid.

Take the completed front side and lay it flat. Lay the sheet over it and trim the sheet to the same size as the front of the quilt. Place the two sides facing each other and sew the pieces together with one long outer seam, leaving an 8" gap at the bottom. Use this gap to turn the quilt right-side-out.

Step 6: Add the Batting, Stitch the Ditch.

Smooth the quilt out to lie flat on a flat surface. Lay the batting on top of the quilt and trim it to the same size. Take the batting and stuff it into the quilt. Reach your hand inside and pull the corners of the batting into the corners of the quilt until the batting lays flat inside the quilt and reaches to the edges on all sides.

Now it's time to stitch the front, back and batting together. Carefully sew the quilt together by stitching down the seams of the t-shirt grid on the front side of the quilt ("stitching the ditch"). This will attach the front and back sides together and hold the batting in place. Roll up the sides of the quilt to reach the inner seams and sew them together. Stitch the ditch between the trim and the t-shirts.

Step 7: Stitch the Squares

Now you're going to quilt each t-shirt square. The front and back of the quilt should be stitched together every 4-6 inches to keep the quilt from stretching and pulling out of shape. Look at the first square, pick a shape or letters and outline it with stitching. It doesn't take much stitching to secure each square, just be sure you don't have a gap of more than 4 or 6 inches without some kind of stitching.

When you've finished the stitching, your quilt is complete! You have a comfy quilt to enjoy for years to come or give as a very personal, treasured gift. Enjoy!

DIY University Contest

Participated in the
DIY University Contest