How to Make a Quilt Out of Old T-shirts




About: I like regular robotics and combat robotics. I also like just about anything that has to do with instructables.

Do you have a lot of old shirts laying around that you don’t wear anymore, but still want to be able to look at them? Then you can turn them into a quilt. The quilt that I made is a small one, a little more than 4’ by 5’, but this can apply to any size.

Step 1: Pick Out Your T-shirts/materials

The shirts alone won’t make much of a blanket, so you need something to back them. I used fleece, but you can use whatever you prefer.
Once you find all of your t-shirts, then you can start to lay it out. Since some of the biggest logos on t-shirts are about 13 inches, you will want to cut out 14” by 14” blocks.

**Please note that if the logos on your shirts are bigger than 13” you will have to adjust the design, If you have any questions about this just leave a comment and I can help you**

Then you have two options. If you do a checker-board pattern, with every other square just being the blank fabric you are using to back the quilt, then you need half the amount of t-shirts that you would have needed for the size of quilt you want. Also using the checker-board pattern ties the quilt together better.I took pictures of all my t- shirts so that I could lay them out on the computer first before cutting them, and then rearrange them the way I wanted. This could be done simply by folding each shirt to the size of the block, and then arrange them on the floor. But I wanted a way that I could easily move the shirts around.

Material/Tool List-

-Old T-shirts (amount varies on size of quilt and if the checker-board pattern is used or not)--Free (unless you want to count the cost of the of the shirts originally)

-Fleece/material of your choice (to back the T-shirt squares)-- $10

-Sewing Machine (can be done with needle and thread, but it will take a very long time)

-Scissors or “cutting wheel” (the cutting wheel will work better, because it is much sharper) **If you use a cutting wheel be careful, because they are very sharp and can cut you easily.

-Chalk --Free(you probably have it already)

Total cost:$10

Step 2: Making the Blocks

The blocks are 14” by 14” because you need extra area on the outside of the block to be sewn to the others. The way I made mine was by folding up the edges and sewing it so there was a ridge, because I liked how it would make a border between blocks. (This will be covered more in the sewing step). You don’t have to make a ridge like I did, but in this instructable I will only cover how to make it with the ridge.

The best way to mark them is to make a cardboard square that is 14” by 14”, and then use that as a template to mark the size on the shirt. The way I did it was:

1) Stick the cardboard inside the shirts.
2) Move the cardboard around until the logo is in the center of the square
3) Put paperclips on the shirt to hold it to the cardboard, so that the shirt doesn’t slide around
4) Mark on the edge of the of the shirt/cardboard
5) Undo the paper clips, it is best to leave the cardboard in the shirt, because it weighs the back of the shirt down while you cut it.
6) Then you can just cut it out.

Tip: Use regular chalk on white shirts, because marking chalk doesn’t show up very well

After you have marked out all of your shirts, then you can cut them out. As I said above fabric scissors are preferred when cutting the shirts, this is because they are much sharper and are made to cut through fabric. Then you can cut out blocks of the same size out of fleece or your material of choice. After you have finished cutting everything out, then you can move on to the sewing step.

**I used scissors for cutting out the shirts, but that is only because I forgot about the cutting wheel at the time. I suggest that if you have a cutting wheel use it, because you will get a much better cut. You can just mark the shirt the way I did, and then use a straight-edge to cut along with the cutting wheel.

Since fleece/other materials come in different sizes, I can’t really give an exact way to cut out the squares, but it isn’t that hard, here are some tips: When you cut the fleece you can use the cardboard to measure how far away to put the straight edge, if you are using the cutting wheel. Or if you are using scissors you can use the cardboard to measure how far away to mark a line for you to cut along with scissors.

Step 3: Sewing

1) Put 2 blocks back to back and sew 1 edge, at a half on an inch in, use the measurements on the sewing machine for guidance.

2) Then you can unfold it, and the two blocks will be joined together with a ridge between them.

3) Continue to sew the blocks together this way until you have a horizontal row.

4) Then sew the rest of the horizontal rows.

5) Once that is done, you can sew the horizontal rows together basically the same way; just sew each block to the one next to it to make a ridge just like you did with the last blocks. When you sew the horizontal rows together you will have to start and stop between the ridges, because most sewing machines can’t sew through that much fabric.

**If any of this is unclear please just leave me a comment, and I will try to explain it better**

Step 4: Final Thoughts

This quilt may not be a traditional quilt, but it worked great for these shirts.  I like it so much that I am using right now as I write this instructable.  What is great is that if you find more shirts that you want to add, you can just sew them on.  I have entered this in the summer sewing contest, so if you like it, please vote for it.  It is "summer-ish", because it would be a great blanket to lay on at the beach or on grass, because it isn't just a regular boring blanket, it has a lot of colors.  Also I am entering it into the dadcando contest, because this would be a good project that you could do with a kid, and the t-shirts they have grown out of.  It would be a great first sewing project.  This project only took me about 5 hours (not including writing the instructable).  If you see any errors, please leave a comment and I will fix them.  Also please post pictures if you make one!  If I get a pro membership I will give a patch to the first three people who post pictures of the quilt they made.



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    14 Discussions


    4 years ago on Step 3

    I was hoping for 12 X 12 blocks, but a couple of t-shirts are smaller and a couple are too big to place all in 12x12 block. What do I do? I am a beginner at this, just so you know. Thank you for your help!


    4 years ago on Step 2

    do you need a glue like substance to make the t shirts to stretch to make a quilt?


    6 years ago on Step 3

    Hi there, enjoyed your instructions for making a T-shirt quilt. You never mentioned wether you lined it or batted it with anything. Also was the black color you used the fleese you were talking about. I did not understand about the ridge you made. Can you explain, please.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    are you sewing the squares together with a plain straight stitch, a triple stitch, zig zag, or something else? my biggest issue with sewing knits is i hate using the zig zag stitch. what are your thoughts?

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I hardly ever sew,  so I am not even sure what stitch I used.  I think it was a plain straight stitch, because it was just a straight line.  Sorry I don't know much about sewing, but I think that the plain straight stitch will probably work.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Nice! I made my t-shirt quilt just around the time your instructable was published. I didn't fuss with the design, just cut freehand for a more random t-shirts were also smaller so i had less to work with. I also lined the back with a jersey sheet and folded over in front for a finished look. Super awesome instructable!

    1 reply

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Very clever! I was wondering about 'just' sewing a three sided square, shove the fleece in, and seal up the fourth side of the square... then, sew all the squares together. What do you think?

    1 reply

    Do you mean sew up three sides of a fleece backed t-shirt, and then put a square of fleece inside for extra warmth? Or T-shirts back to back, so you would have a double-sided quilt, with the fleece on the inside?

    I'm not entirely sure what you mean, but it sounds like it should work.  If you make one I hope that you post pictures!


    I made one of these a couple summers ago, they are super comfortable, great for the drive-in and useful. I just couldn't throw my old shirts away. great instructions! :)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I just started mine and by that I mean picked out the tee shirts I'm going to use. I'll comment again when I finish :)

    2 replies