Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How to Make a T-Shirt Quilt: Part 1

Here we go!  I know there are lots of ways to make t-shirt quilts, all of them good.  But this is the way I do it.  The key to my method is lots of planning before sewing.  You'll hear more about the planning in Part 2.

Of course, the first thing we need is lots of t-shirts.  I typically use from 12 to 20 t-shirts in a quilt.  Remember, some t-shirts have an emblem which fills the entire front of the shirt.  But some shirts only have a small emblem near the shoulder.  These shirts will all work together great, so don't discard a shirt just because its motif is small!

We will also need fabric.  I typically select two fabrics for the quilt top.  I buy 2 1/2 yards of each of these fabrics, though if you add borders with this fabric or use the same fabric for the quilt back, you'll need more.

As for fabric selection - if these are high school or college shirts, some people like to use their school colors.  Graphic black and white prints are also a good option.  Or just two fabrics that work well together.  Most t-shirt collections have a wide variety of colors - too many to match.  So just pick two fabrics which work well together (with some contrast between them) and the t-shirts will all come together nicely.

The next supply we need is a fusible stabilizer.  Since t-shirt fabric is stretchy, we must fuse a stabilizer to the back of each piece.  There are many great products out there for this purpose, but my favorite is Pellon Fusible Interfacing.

I buy it in packets that contain 3 yards of 15 inch wide interfacing.  I bought it on sale at my local Hancock's Fabric.  It happened to be on sale for only 77 cents per pack!  It's regular price was less than a dollar.

Not only is this product inexpensive, but I love that I can fuse it with only a steam iron.  Many similar products require a wet pressing cloth.

Now it's time to cut the shirts - don't be scared!  I use scissors to cut out the motif.  I cut VERY LIBERALLY around the emblem, including tons of space around.  
This is a rough cut, not meant to be perfectly straight; but don't chop out in a circle or other weirdo shape.  You should end up with a rough rectangle or square.
Now it's time to fuse!  Lay the rough cut shirt piece face down on an ironing surface.  Cut a piece of fusible to fit within the back side of the shirt, coming close to the edges but not overlapping the edges.  Make sure the fusible interface is positioned with the glue side down.  The glue side feels a bit rougher that the other side.
Using a hot iron with steam, press the fusible interfacing to the back of the shirt.  Repeat for each t-shirt piece.  Stay tuned for Part 2!

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