From DIY home decor to handmade gifts, here are the best arts and crafts to spark your creativity

Make a Quilt From Your Old T-Shirts

About ten years ago while preparing for a move, I discovered that I owned an alarming number of t-shirts that I was unlikely to ever wear again. However, I had a sentimental attachment to many of them, or they were otherwise souvenirs of some interesting times. I had a hard time just getting rid of about making them into a quilt?

I preface this instructable by saying I know nothing whatsoever about quilting, and only the basics about sewing, so this was largely made up as I went along. The finished quilt is very big and heavy and warm and has borne up well under moderate use and gentle cleaning for about a decade now. I only have pictures of the finished quilt but will try to indicate in the photos the order of the steps as described.

What you'll need:

  • A sewing machine
  • A piece of cardboard with a cut 10"x10" window
  • A Sharpie
  • Fabric Scissors
  • 70 t-shirt squares
  • approx. 70 square feet of quilt batting (bought a couple rolls at JoAnn's fabrics)
  • approx. 70 square feet of fleece (also bought at JoAnn's)
  • A couple spools of thread, same color as fleece
  • 54 large safety pins
  • a box of large straight pins

Cut Up the Shirts

Take your cardboard frame and place it over the section of the t-shirt you want in your quilt. Trace the box with the sharpie. Once you have all your boxes traced, cut them out with your fabric scissors. I wanted my quilt to be big enough to cover a full sized bed, so I needed 70 squares for a 7x10 pattern.

I used mostly squares with printing on them, but it might also be nice to have some solid colors by cutting up blank squares from the opposite sides of the shirts. Obviously you can also have larger or smaller squares if you prefer.

Sew the Squares Together

My cut squares were 10"x10", so that after they were sewn together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance on each side, the squares were around 9.5"x9.5". As I said, I was making this up as I went so I wasn't too overly concerned about exact measurements.

Place all the squares out on the floor and arrange them into the pattern that you want. Pin the the squares in the shorter rows together and sew one row at a time. Pin the rows together one at a time and sew.

Pin to Batting & Backing

Lay out the fleece on the floor. Unroll the batting on top of the fleece. Place on top the sheet of sewn-together squares.

Pin the three layers together at the corner joins of the squares using large safety pins (the three layers will be quite thick.)

Trim the edges of the fleece and batting to be the same size as the sewn squares. Turn under and pin all the edges along the outside.

Sew Everything Together

Sew the outside edges together. Because the t-shirts and the fleece have a lot of stretch to them I used a zig-zag stitch.

With straight stitch, sew the front side to the back side in the pattern indicated in the second photo by the pink lines. From the back this will look like a concentric rectangle pattern.

Remove all the pins and prepare to snuggle up under your super comfy new quilt.


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