Jo’s Finished T-shirt Quilt

Jo with her finished T-shirt quilt. Learn how to make it at Shiny Happy World!It’s finished! Jo’s T-shirt quilt is finished – and just in time.


I finished the last bit of the binding at midnight the night before she had to leave for school. It’s a good thing Jo wanted to spend her final night at home watching a Doctor Who marathon (perfect for binding handwork) otherwise I was sure I’d be finishing it in the car on the way. 🙂

Yes – that’s Cuddle Fleece on the back. She’s just crazy about that stuff! She actually asked me to make her a pillowcase out of it the morning before leaving for school. I had to tell her I’d mail it to her. 🙂

The finished quilt fits a twin-size bed with an overhang all around. It’s 72 inches wide and 87 inches long – made up of thirty 15-inch squares.

You can see all the posts about making it here.

I know you can’t see all the individual blocks with it wrapped around her, so here it is all flat.

Finished T-shirt quilt. Learn how to make it at Shiny Happy World!

The image is actually a digital mock-up of the finished blocks. I used it to help me decide on the final layout without crawling around on the floor.

The blank gray squares you see are where Jo didn’t have quite enough T-shirts for the size quilt she wanted. I filled those spots in with favorite fabrics she picked from my stash.

I love how it’s a collection of all the things she’s loved/been obsessed with over the last 8 or 9 years. I see a lot of cats in there. . .

Cat Block for a T-shirt quilt. Learn how to make it at Shiny Happy World.

. . . some geeky goodness. . .

Jawa block for a T-shirt quilt. Learn how to make it at Shiny Happy World.

. . . a reminder of a terrific Dragon*Con panel with the creators of Fraggle Rock. . .

Making a T-shirt quilt

. . . Minecraft and other video games. . .

Minecraft block for a T-shirt quilt. Learn how to make it at Shiny Happy World.

. . .our trip to Japan. . .

Pig block for a T-shirt quilt. Learn how to make it at Shiny Happy World.

. . . and (of course) Doctor Who.

Little Mermaid/Doctor Who block for a T-shirt quilt. Learn how to make it at Shiny Happy World.

Quilting was simple. She didn’t want batting – just the Cuddle Fleece backing – so I didn’t have to worry about quilting closely enough to hold the batting in place. I just stitched in the ditch between each block. Here are some videos to help you with the final steps of the project.

If you make a T-shirt quilt with this method, I’d love to see it!

Happy quilting!

Applique Wendi (with fabulous hat)

T-shirt Quilt – Almost Finished

T-shirt Quilt In progress - tutorial at Shiny Happy World

Here’s a quick update on the T-shirt quilt.

22 blocks finished, 8 still to go.

But I only have 5 T-shirts left in my pile!

Jo’s cleaning out her closet today and she may pull out a couple more that are getting too small. If that doesn’t net us three more I’ll be hitting my fabric stash and just cutting 3 big blocks of fabric she loves for the last few squares.

We had one of her favorite T-shirts that didn’t make it into the quilt. It was just too tall and she didn’t want to lose any of the image – not even a smidgen. So she asked if I could make her a pillow out of it.

Soft Kitty T-shirt pillow


It’s a nice squishy pillow and she loves it!

I used this method to make the pillow – only instead of adding framing all the way around I just added strips to the sides. It’s the same idea though! And I always put a zipper in the back so I can remove the cover and wash it.

Jo LOVES these pillows and uses them instead of bed pillows. In case you’re wondering, it’s Fairfield brand Home Elegance Ultimate Luxury PIllow – it feels exactly like a pricey down pillow but it’s less expensive and machine washable. Win!

You can see all the posts about making a T-shirt quilt here.

And don’t forget about Diane Gilleland’s online T-shirt Quilt Class happening today!

Happy sewing!

Applique Wendi (with fabulous hat)

Making a T-shirt Quilt – Part 4

Today I’m going to share a bit of problem-solving with you for your T-shirt quilts.

Most T-shirt designes are pretty well centered, with some room all the way around.

But sometimes the design of a T-shirt goes right up to the armhole, making it difficult to cut a square corner and get all the important bits.

Take, for example, this Fraggle design.

Making a T-shirt quilt

I cut this out as close to the arm seam as possible, but Mokey Fraggle is right up against the cut. The sleeve fabric was kind of yucky and worn there – so I definitely wanted to cut it away – but I didn’t want to lose Mokey!

I made the cut and did the interfacing as though there was fabric there. (I didn’t press that loose corner of interfacing – that would have fused it to the ironing board. I just left it unpressed while I fused the rest down.) Then I cut out the image – again pretending that there was fabric in that corner.

Of course, the next step is to sew in some real fabric to replace the pretend stuff. 🙂

Making a T-shirt quilt

I cut a strip of fabric big enough to cover the missing corner, laid it along the edge of the armhole cut, and sewed it in place with a straight seam.

Making a T-shirt quilt

Then I flipped the strip over the corner and pressed the seam flat (from the back so I didn’t smear the image).

Making a T-shirt quilt

Trim the corner to square up the block.

Making a T-shirt quilt

Then frame it out just like all the other blocks.

Problem solved!

I ran into the same issue with the Nyan Cat T-shirt.

Making a T-shirt quilt

And solved it the same way. 🙂

Here’s what the blocks look like so far.

Making a T-shirt quilt

I’m hoping to finish all the blocks this week, so next week will be joining, basting, quilting and binding. In my dreams I’m handsewing the binding while I watch Diane Gilleland’s T-shirt Quilt class and learn all the things I could have done better. (It looks amazing and it’s free! Sign up here and watch with me!) In reality I’ll probably be doing it in the car on the way to drop Jo off at school. 😛

Read all the posts about my T-shirt quilt here.

Happy quilting!

Applique Wendi (with fabulous hat)

Making a T-shirt Quilt – Part 3

Making a T-shirt quilt

Here’s where things stand right now on Jo’s T-shirt quilt. I’ve fused the interfacing and cut images from all the T-shirts in the stack, and I’ve got finished, framed blocks for eight of them.

I wrote about the tools and supplies I’m using for this quilt here.

And I wrote about the hows and whys of the interfacing here.

Today I’ll show you how I’m framing the images to make uniform blocks.

The shirts I’m using in this quilt range from children’s XS to men’s XL. That, my friends, is a big range of sizes.

There are some amazingly complex T-shirt quilts out there that fit all those sizes together like a jigsaw puzzle. You can see some of them in this Pinterest board I’ve been building.

Frankly – the thought of planning that out made my head hurt. And then the cutting and piecing would have to be really precise and I would be quickly getting far away from the kind of quilts I like to make.

(One of the things I’m most eager to hear in Diane Gilleland’s class about T-shirt quilts is how she plans the layouts. Her T-shirt quilts have a lovely harmony and simplicity to them, and I can’t figure out how she does it just by seeing the finished quilts. I can’t wait to learn more about her approach! RSVP for the free video workshop happening on August 21 and 22 and take the class with me!)

Until I learn Diane’s magic secret – I decided to keep things simple.

1. I already own a 15 inch square ruler – so all the blocks will be 15 inch square blocks. Easy.

2. I cut the T-shirt images whatever size works best for the image. Then I add fabric around the image until it’s bigger than 15 inches. Then I use that handy-dandy ruler to trim it to the exact right size.

Today I’m going to show how I do that framing.

Here’s where we left off in the interfacing post.

Making a T-shirt quilt

The T-shirt has interfacing fused to the back and it’s trimmed where I like it.

I hit my stash and pulled some blue that very closely matched the blue of the T-shirt.

My original plan was to use contrasting fabric for the frame – like pulling out the green of her tail or the orange of her hair – but in the end I decided that would be too busy. I want the focus to be on the T-shirt images, so my frames add a bit of extra texture (none of them are solids) without adding additional color.

I added strips all the way around the image until the block was bigger than 15 inches. I added strips to the top and bottom first, then pressed it and added strips to the two sides and pressed again.

You can add to the sides first and then the top and bottom. Or you can work your way around the block log-cabin-style. It doesn’t really matter – just get fabric on all four sides.

Press all your seams away from the T-shirt center. And press everything from the back so you don’t smear your image!

Making a T-shirt quilt

Here’s the framed block with my 15 inch ruler set on top so you can see the extra all the way around.

Now – position that ruler where you want it and cut around all four sides. I wanted my blocks off center – but straight – so I lined one of the ruler lines up with a seam between the T-shirt image and the frame so everything stays nice and straight. If you look closely (click on the image to zoom in) you can see that the one-inch line on the ruler is lined up with the seam on the right side of the block.

I think it would be fun to have the images at interesting angles in the quilt, but Jo wanted them straight. 🙂

Making a T-shirt quilt

And here’s the finished block!

You can see I added wider strips to some sides, and narrower to others. I don’t want the image centered in the block, so unevenness is good. Also – then I don’t have to measure anything. 🙂 The effect is even more noticeable in some of the blocks with smaller images. Scroll back up to the top of the post to see the rest of the blocks so far.

Tony the Tiger was the only image big enough to cut 15″ square with no framing – so he’s in there just just from the T-shirt. Everything else is getting at least some framing.

Next week I’ll be back with a post about handling T-shirts whose images go right up to the armholes.

See all the T-shirt quilt posts here.

Happy quilting! Have a great weekend!

Applique Wendi (with fabulous hat)


Making a T-Shirt Quilt – Part 2

How to Make a T-shirt quilt

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

How to Make a T-shirt quilt

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

How to Make a T-shirt quilt

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

How to Make a T-shirt quilt

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!

Happy quilting!

Applique Wendi (with fabulous hat)

Making a T-Shirt Quilt – Part 1


We’re a T-shirt-wearing family. All three of us wear T-shirts all the time – the geekier the better. (Our favorite source for great designs is Tee Fury. They have a new design every day – available for only a day. Fun!)

Jo has been saving her outgrown T-shirts for years, with the thought that someday I would make her a T-shirt quilt with them.

Someday is suddenly NOW. She’s going away to school in a couple of weeks and has requested a T-shirt quilt for her bed.

I have never made a T-shirt quilt.

A couple of months ago I saw that Diane Gilleland is offering a video class showing how to make T-shirt quilts. Awesome!

Diane is a terrific teacher and the author of the wonderful book Quilting Happiness. You can read my review here.

And her T-shirt quilt class is FREE if you watch it live. Even more awesome!

Get all the details and get signed up here.

Seriously! Do it! I’m doing it!

But first I’m going to muddle through one on my own because Diane’s class is happening the last two days before Jo heads off to school and I know I’m setting myself up for major stress if I try to actually make the entire quilt in two days.

And guess what?

I’m going to share the muddling through part with all of you! I always get such nice emails when I share my mistakes publicly and this has the potential for some truly spectacular failures. 🙂

I’ve done a little bit of research about T-shirt quilts, but mostly I’m winging it. I figure I’ll learn all the good stuff in Diane’s class. 🙂 But here are a couple of key things I’ll be doing/tools I’ll be using. . .


T-shirts are stretchy. Stretch is bad when you’re trying to do precise piecing and end up with nice, straight lines. Plus the cut edges will curl up and make me crazy when I’m trying to sew them together.

So the first thing I’m going to do is make my stretchy fabric not stretchy anymore. For that I’m using fusible interfacing.

I don’t sew clothes or structured bags much, so I’m no interfacing expert. I decided to use Pellon 906F – a very lightweight fusible interfacing. I took a totally wildly random guess and bought 6 yards for my quilt. I’ll let you know later if that was enough. 🙂

I’ll write a post showing what I do with the interfacing.

Totally Random Sizes

The pile of shirts ranges from children’s XS to men’s XL (she added a couple of Alan’s old shirts to the stash too). We want to keep the images on the front of the shirts as intact as possible, so I decided to frame each image with scraps of regular fabric. I’m a little worried about mixing wovens with knits, but it’s what Jo asked for and I’m willing to give it a try. I’ll let you know how that works.

The finished blocks will all be 15 inches square. Why? Because I already have a 15 inch square ruler and I’m going to use it to make trimming the blocks to their final size quick and easy.

I’ll share how I standardize the sizes of the blocks in its own post.

Jo wants a twin-sized quilt, so I’ll be making 30 blocks. I think she has 28 T-shirts so I’ll fill in the last couple of blocks with fabric of Jo’s choice.

Tune in tomorrow for the post about the interfacing!

And remember to sign up for Diane’s class if you want to learn from someone who has actually DONE THIS already and done it very well. No – I’m not an affiliate or anything. I’m just really confident that the class is going to be awesome and I want you to get in on it. 🙂

Happy quilting!

Applique Wendi (with fabulous hat)