Monday, October 19, 2009

T-Shirt Quilt Step One, two, and three

I have been a bit crafty lately. I decided to take all of my old t-shirts that I'm really attached to and make them into a t-shirt quilt. You really only need so many t-shirts in your life anyway, but they always have such strange memories attached to them... so I almost always find it really difficult to throw them out or give them away.

A quilt means I can save them forever! And my kids (or probably my nieces and nephews) will see how awesome I was when I was a teenager!

T-shirts! - I have 12 in mine: 3 by 4 makes a double I think
Batting!- You can get really cheap bags that come in a pre-set size (twin, double, queen etc)
Backing! - Enough to cover the back of your quilt. The sales lady helped me find something that was triple wide so I wouldn't have to have seams down my back
Piecing material - I am using the same material as my backing, because I am lazy about trying to match something to 12 different t-shirts and also because my budget wouldn't let me go crazy. This is going to be used to fill in the actual blocks cut from the t-shirts so they are all the same size - good luck figuring out how much you'll need. I just bought a shit-ton.
Fusible/non-woven/medium weight interfacing! - to make the t-shirts usable.

You'll also need:
A sewing machine!
A rotary cutter!
An iron! (I just bought my first one ever!)
A cutting mat!
Clear block ruler.
and thread!

Step one:

I sat down and actually figured out which t-shirts I was going to use. I ended up needing three, so I stole a few from our most recent clothing swap and also one from my mom.

(Some of my treasured old rags)

Step two:

Maybe a professional would tell you to do this in a different order but this is what worked for me. I cut out the print from each t-shirt, and tried to do it in a way that I got the largest sized block I could. I didn't try to make them all the same size at this point - I just wanted to see what I would/could be working with. You can always regulate their sizing later.

Knits (t-shirt material) is literally horrible to make a quilt out of. It stretches like no ones business, and is pretty heavy. So even if you did some how succeed in cutting a perfect square or rectangle block out of it, your quilt would eventually turn into a pulled-out, ugly old rag if you used it more than once.

The solution is to buy fusible, non woven, medium weight interfacing. You get to iron it on the back of each shirt (glue side down!) and then suddenly the fabric makes a lot more sense.

(A shirt with interfacing on it)

Step three:

(my non measured pieces)

Spread your pieces out on a floor or huge table. Move them around and put them into the order you want for the finished product.

I measured each block and figured out what size I wanted the finished block to be. I usually tried to do it so I had roughly an inch on all sides of the image. Write down the measurements for each block or else you will cry later!

(I drew it out a poorly to scale version showing which shirt was where, and how large the finished piece would be because I am a visual person)

So from here you can figure out the widest and tallest pieces (one was 12" wide and another one was 11" tall). I want a border all around each shirt for consistency's sake so I figured out that a completely finished block would be 14" x 14". This means I'll have to cut borders for each shirt and all the border pieces will have to be customized for all my different sized shirts. Annoying, but at least my finished blocks will all be the same size in the end.

So before you cut: WAIT!
Make sure you add 1/4" to all sides of every piece you cut for sewing allowance. This will mean that a shirt piece that is 10" x 10" finished will actually be cut 10.5" x 10.5"

Man this probably makes no sense what so ever.
I'll post more steps later, but I'm tired already.

In any case here is my first 14"x14" block... just so you can see a finished one.

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