T-Shirt Quilts

Traditional Blocks Set Off T-Shirts

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I recently finished this quilt for a mother to give her adult son for Christmas – he is working towards becoming a Baptist minister, and these are t-shirts from various mission projects and Christian youth groups he has been involved with along the way. The only direction she gave me was to use Univeristy of Georgia colors, but no actual bull dog or UGA fabric… So I ran with just the red and black color scheme – and decided to use some traditional quilt blocks, like pinwheels and half square triangles, to set off the t-shirts, yet also pull it all together into a more unified theme. 

 

I used a 80/20 cotton/polyester batting, and quilted it on my long arm using clear polyester thread, so that you end up only seeing the texture of the quilting, without it obscuring the actual writing or images on the t-shirts themselves. These shots of the back are after a machine washing and drying, so the characteristic “quilty” look is visible even with the invisible thread.

As usual, one of our furry friends joined in to help – this is our cat helping me put on the binding. Sweet!

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My friend had a few repeat t-shirts, so instead of putting those in the quilt, I made a simple matching pillow using just one of them.

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When Christmas rolls around, to present the gift, the mom intends to put the quilt and pillow in a big red Santa Claus bag – and wanted something special to use as a gift tag. So I embroidered these cloth “tags” for her. They are about 8 inches long with snow flake button holes for a tie to go through.

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I know this son will be touched to receive his quilt – it is sized to be a large throw quilt, or to fit over the top of a queen bed – so he will have options regarding where he uses it. I hope he will have many years of enjoyment as he looks at the quilt and remembers what each t-shirt represents!

T-Shirt Quilts

A Boy’s Life as told by his t-shirts

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I recently completed the biggest t-shirt quilt I’ve ever done – 78 shirts lovingly saved by one mom for her son. She contacted me to make the t-shirt quilt for his college graduation, so I first assumed it would be his collegiate sports t-shirts – but to my astonishment she had saved every one of his team t-shirts since his t-ball days as a preschooler, all the way through his high school career. How sweet is that?

To keep the quilt a size that would fit on my long arm, I cut the tees as small as I could, keeping only the team name or main part of the shirt. A few shirts I used the back as well since they had all the boys names who played on that team. This quilt ended up 90″x100″ – which will be great for this young man because he is very tall and he should have no trouble stretching out and not have his toes sticking out from under the bottom of the quilt!

I quilted a simple design to keep the lettering on the t-shirts legible, yet dense enough to hold the layers together securely – as well as to add texture and visual interest to the finished quilt.

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And here’s one last shot of the quilt back – with a cat scurrying across it – seems like every time I lay a quilt on the floor for a picture either a cat or a dog feels the need to help!

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T-Shirt Quilts

Sweet Idea for T-Shirts

A friend recently asked me if I could make a skirt out of her favorite Key West t-shirts, and I immediately thought – yes! Another way to repurpose and reuse t-shirts! I’m so pleased with how this turned out that I’m saving some of my own vacation t-shirts to make a cute beach cover up. My friend wore hers on a recent cruise, and received many compliments – that she was kind enough to pass along to me!

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In addition to the skirt, she also asked me to save the small image from the front of the t-shirts. I was able to make these into patches she intends to sew onto a shirt.

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T-Shirt Quilts

Re-purpose, Re-use and Remember: Some ideas for using favorite T-Shirts.

The idea of reusing, recycling, and repurposing appeals to me on many levels – of course from an ecological point of view, the less we throw into our landfills the better – but on a personal level there is much to be said for finding new life for something that is old, maybe out-of-style, or simply not in use any more. And, it appeals to me to turn an old t-shirt into a sweet reminder of a special person or event.

In the photos below, these bunnies are one idea if you have only one t-shirt you want to repurpose. The blue bunny is made from a t-shirt my daughter was wearing when she broke her arm, about 15 years ago, during spring break – a little incident with a horse… requiring a trip to the emergency room. The nurses there had to cut off her t-shirt, which was almost more traumatic to her than the broken arm. I recently ran across the remnants of this shirt and was able to use enough of it to make this bunny. And even all these years later, and even though she’s all grown up – she was thrilled to get something new made from an old favorite.

The three other bunnies were made for a set of grandsons from three identical t-shirts of their grand daddy’s. He recently passed away, and these were given to the boys as part of their Easter Basket goodies this year. What a fun keepsake for them!

Another way I’ve re-purposed t-shirts is to make tote bags. The blue one with the Howard Finster coke bottle art, I actually made for myself, using a t-shirt of my own that had gotten too small (or maybe I got too big). I used an old pair of jeans to make the bottom reinforcement piece, removed the hardware off an old purse I never use, and used some left over canvas to line the bag.

The red and white bag is for a friend to give her mother for Mother’s Day. The t-shirt was originally printed to commemorate a milestone birthday for her mother 10 years ago. I had some left over red ticking fabric for the lining and bottom reinforcement panel, as well as a scrap piece of zipper to use for the little clamp on the inside.

 

Pillows are another option if you don’t have enough shirts for an entire quilt – or you have anything else to reuse. In these photos below all the pillows are recycled from various fabric items – the large Montana pillow was once a tea towel, the woven one was once dish towels, the small white pillow first lived its life as a zippered sweater, the other large pillow with the white lines started out as a baby quilt (that I never liked once I finished) and lastly the small pillow with embroidered flowers originally was a table cloth that ended up stained beyond use.

And in the final photo, of course a single t-shirt can be easily turned into a pillow – maybe you have too many t-shirts for a quilt, or maybe you only have the one t-shirt. Either way, this is a great option as well.

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T-Shirt Quilts

A Graduation T-Shirt Quilt for Our Son

Our son attends Montana State University in Bozeman, MT – and will graduate in May. He requested a t-shirt in MSU colors – but only wanted three t-shirts in it. With that in mind  here are pictures of what I came up with. I am very happy with the way it turned out – the colors are so bold and bright – can’t have a sad face with beautiful colors like that around! I quilted an all-over leaf and vine pattern because he is a Conservation Biologist and I knew something natural and organic would appeal to him. So congratulations to my son – we are all very proud of him! And may this quilt keep him warm and cozy this winter in the Montana cold – and make him think of his momma’s love.

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Entire quilt – hanging from his tree house
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Back of quilt. Corduroy fabric – soft and warm
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MSU quilt on long arm frame
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Also on the long arm frame
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Gift card and care instruction card
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Quilting from the back
T-Shirt Quilts

I’ll start things off with a recent t-shirt quilt…

I’ve been making t-shirt quilts now for several years – and I’ve been trying to make them as artistic and unique as I can. I will admit it’s quite fun to watch the reaction of my customers when they see their finished quilt the first time – very gratifying when they are so happy and excited. Here’s a recent one I finished – several different sizes of shirts were used so to fill in some open areas in the design I used a traditional quilt block, the St. George star.

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The quilt in progress on my long arm machine
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Another view still on the frame
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A view of the entire quilt
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Another look at the qulting
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A close-up of the quilting
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A little closer view of entire quilt
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Included gift card