Yesterday I wrote a bit about the tools and materials I’ll be using to make Jo’s new T-shirt quilt.
Today I’m actually getting started!
As I mentioned yesterday – the main challenge in making a T-shirt quilt is that T-shirts are stretchy. Stretchy fabric is usually the LAST thing you would choose to make a quilt. It stretches – which makes precise measuring hard. And the edges curl when they’re cut which is really annoying.
So the first step is to make your stretchy T-shirts no longer stretchy.
For that I used interfacing.
Specifically – Pellon 906F. It’s the lightest weight interfacing I could find.
Here’s how the interfacing works. . .
The Pellon 906F is a fisuble interfacing. That means you iron it to the back of your fabric and it creates a permanent bond. You’re basically gluing a non-stretchy fabric to the back of a stretchy fabric – which makes the stretchy fabric no longer stretchy.
I chose the lightest weight interfacing I could find because I didn’t want to make my fabric overly heavy or stiff. With the 906F it still drapes nicely – so that’s good!
Here’s the step-by-step. . .
Step 1 – Cut away the front of the shirt
I cut right up the side seams and across the shoulder seams, as close as I could get to the seams without being too crazy fussy about the whole thing.
Step 2 – Add interfacing
See the interfacing peeking out where the armholes were? That gives you a sense of how big I cut the piece of interfacing. From the back it’s just a big square of white fabric stuck to some blue fabric – not the most useful image.
Cut a piece of interfacing larger than the image on the front of your shirt.
Lay the shirt front face down on your ironing board.
Iron the interfacing to the back of the image. Follow the package instructions as best you can.
This involves slowly counting to ten over and over and over and over again. It’s very boring – but it’s not hard and it’s what makes the whole thing work. Just listen to some music or a podcast or watch TV while you do it. 🙂
Important note – the instructions for the Pellon 906F say to flip the fabric over after the initial fuse and iron again with steam from the front.
Don’t do that!
A lot of the inks and image transfers used on T-shirts will melt and smear if you iron directly on them. Instead I lightly spritzed the back all over with water and pressed the whole thing again until it was dry.
Step 3 – Cut the image however you like
I’m cutting all the images for this quilt with square corners. That’s easy if you use clear rulers and rotary cutting tools. You don’t have to do it – but it will make for easy framing.
For the technique I’m using I’m not measuring at all. Easy peasy! I’m just cutting around the image in a way that looks good to me for that image.
And that’s it! The T-shirt is no longer stretchy. The cut edges don’t curl. And I have a nice, easy shape to frame out for the final block. Tomorrow I’ll show you that step – how I frame the images to get blocks that are all the same size. With no measuring!
Disclaimer – This is my first T-shirt quilt ever. I’ve made a lot of quilts and I’ve worked with knit fabrics – so I’m not starting from nowhere. But I am in no way an expert! If you want to learn from an expert, sign up for Diane Gilleland’s class here. She makes some BEE-YOO-TEE-FUL T-shirt quilts and I’m definitely taking the class myself. It’s free if you RSVP for the live version!