quilting, sewing, sewing with knits

sewing with knits mondays: t-shirt quilt

Welcome back to another Monday!  It’s Sewing with Knits Mondays already.

Maybe this isn’t an obvious knit fabric project, but it’s one that’s been waiting for me to finish for at least 3 years (probably longer).  You can read more about it in my post here. My mom had cleaned out some of my things from their house a long time ago and I had grabbed my old swim shirts thinking I would someday make them into a t-shirt quilt.

It was so fun revisiting all my fun swim team memories back from when I was 10 years old right up through my senior year of college.  Just looking at each shirt makes me think of the countless swim meets, thousands of hours riding in the Y van, and great friends.

And I’m not going to disguise anything here, this was definitely not my favorite project when I started.  I was intimidated working with both cottons and knits together and I had cut up my shirts long before I knew what exactly my plan might be.  With that said, I wish I would have tried to find a more uniform shape to each shirt, but some were so old and worn, I just couldn’t make that happen.  Besides, I ended up really liking the top, but not until I saw it all pieced together.

Now I’ll be getting it ready for quilting and soon I’ll be snuggling under it watching Project Runway.

Any tips on how to quit it?  I’d love to hear your input.  I was thinking of doing some free motion quilting but with random shaped intersecting boxes.  Hmm, could be complicated.  🙂

I think this would make an awesome Christmas present or a great guy gift, too!

Random note:  I fused lightweight interfacing to each piece of t-shirt before squaring them up.

Be sure to jump on over and say hi to Shannon today over at Luvinthemommyhood for some more knit goodness.  🙂

27 thoughts on “sewing with knits mondays: t-shirt quilt

  1. Melissa says:

    What a small world. I live by La Crosse – have lived here my entire life. What a great area. It’s funny how people in the blog world seem so far away, yet they can really be so close by 🙂 or at least have a connection.

  2. Anna says:

    wow melissa! so cool, email me sometime. 🙂

  3. Happy in red says:

    Very cool! When I first went to sewing class our teachter taught us to make t-shirt quilted pillow covers so we could properly learn how to upcycle. From now on: no t-shirt will ever go in the bin.

  4. shannon says:

    hi! great job on the quilt. as someone how quilts ‘professionally’ and has quilted numerous tshirt quilts, i’ll give you some ideas and tips.

    since it is all your swimming shirts, might i throw an idea in the pot- quilt it with a swirly edge to edge that looks like rippled water…

    aslo, be careful when quilting that you don’t accidently ‘pop’ the shirts off the interfacing while manuvering it around while quilting. ask me how i know.

    those bulky seam intersections can be tricky, but be careful, go slow and you won’t break a needle.

    i love quilting client’s tshirt quilts! you get to learn so much about them.

    good luck- it’s gorgeous.

  5. Sandy says:

    Yay.. U of A… bear down!! 🙂

  6. you’re a braver woman than I am Anna! T-shirt quilts scare me! all that stretchy movement eek! Love how this turned out, it’s such a great keepsake.

  7. Emily says:

    I love your interfacing tip. I think it’d be cool with some free motion quilting (and you could pass along some tips too, if you want). It’s really cool that you are a swimmer! In college a bunch of my friends had t shirt quilts so one summer I cut up a bunch of shirts from high school. This was way before I sewed so I’m sure they’re all really random shapes. 🙂

  8. Susan says:

    I’m not sure how well this would work since your squares aren’t all the same, but I just made a few stitches at each intersection when I made a tshirt quilt. (Mostly because I didn’t have the patience to quilt the whole thing) I haven’t had any trouble with things shifting around though. I did a few posts about making the quilt, but here’s the last one when I talked about binding it:
    I used interfacing also, but only along the edges of my pieces. Good luck with your decision, I’m sure it will turn out great!

  9. Emily says:

    I love your quilt!! I have a tub and a bag full of t-shirts waiting to become quilts! I’m thinking that I will just tie my off at the intersections like the quilts my great-grandmothers used to make. Just for added nostalgia.

  10. Brenda says:

    I’m making a collage style tshirt quilt right now and I’m not loving it, mostly because the owner cut up the shirts before giving them to me. It’s much easier to fuse a bigger piece than needed and then cut to size. I’ve had to piece some of shirts with knit bits just to square them up. I can’t tell from your photo — are you sewing shirt to shirt, or is there a cotton woven sashing between?

  11. Indigo Blue says:

    I too have an on-going T-shirt quilt which I have mixed feelings about. I am having to wait a bit for my daughter to grow out of them before I feel justified in cutting them up! I also put some interfacing on but now regret it as I have lost the fluidity which made me start in the first place. So I am going to take off what 1 can and not add any more. By pinning at the start and the end I do not have much of a problem with over startching and a rotary cutter sorts out the rest! Keep going we will both get finished in the end.

  12. Stella says:

    No advice on the quilting, I just did in the ditch on mine, but I did want to say that I backed mine with flannel. It is the softest, snuggliest, warmest quit ever!

  13. bethanndodd says:

    It turned out great! I am making one for my boys’ elementary school, out of all the past years spirit wear t’s. I look forward to seeing what you do with the quilting. Smiles~Beth

  14. Jacey says:

    My sister has been begging me to make her a t-shirt quilt. She gave me the full t-shirts she wants me to use, which sounds best, based on the comments about fusing first, cutting second. Maybe this is the inspiration I needed to get started with it! Your quilt top looks great so far!

  15. This going to be AWESOME when it’s done!!!!

  16. syocom says:

    I did a swim t-shirt too!! sometimes it hard to think of how many other people out there swam. I had mine quilted with machine. It was different for every block. We outlined most of the deigns from the shirt and on the borders and edges we did waves and bubbles. I love it.

  17. skirtastop says:

    It’s looking great so far! I swam too, but our high school team was laughably horrible – it was more for a fun workout during the wintertime. Sometimes we’d skip practice and hang out in the sauna. I have no t-shirts. 😀

  18. Thanks for posting this! I have a box of my husbands shirts that he won’t throw away just waiting for me to give them a second life by making a quilt…but I’ve been intimidated. Can you point me in the direction to how I should fuse them together? Someone else told me that and I’m scared to try anything beyond sewing squares. LOL. Great quilt, btw! 🙂 and I love following your blog!

  19. Jessica says:

    I recently made a t shirt quilt and I had a lot of fun doing different FMQ on each block 🙂

  20. QuiltyGirl says:

    I just finished helping someone baste a t-shirt quilt. 🙂
    I’m not usually a huge fan of these, but I really like yours! Your layout makes it so fun.
    Also, I’ve quilted quite a few (despite my general dislike for them, lol) bc I do all of my mom’s quilting for her. Email me, I have lots of fmq tips. 🙂

  21. Nat says:

    I’m planning on doing this with my kids’ clothes when they are bigger. I’m saving a few of my favorite things from each size they wear, and hope that they come out as quilts that are semi-cute in the end. Yours looks great- it’s neat to have something that is so tactile to help bring back memories.

  22. erica says:

    This is GREAT! I too was a swimmer and have accumulated alot of team shirts and shirts from conferences and meets. they’re in a box in the garage. You’re making me want to pull them out! I wish I had some suggestions on how to quilt it, but I only staight-line quilt. Good luck! can’t wait to see it.

  23. Kyla says:

    Aww, this project is too cute! Before I went off to college my mom actually took all the baby shirts she had of mine and made them into a quilt to take with me…I still have it! 🙂

  24. I’ve been actively collecting Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts for years, just to turn into a quilt. I should stop collecting and get started!

  25. Jennifer says:

    I can’t remember where I saw this tip, but quilting with stretch fabrics can be tricky, you could try tacking the layers together using a wide zig zag with your feed dogs lowered, about 6 stitches in each spot. You may not have any problems with stretching since you used interfacing, I liked the suggestion of a wave pattern!

  26. Tiffany says:

    Initially I scrolled through the pictures on this post focusing more on reading the words and not thinking much of it. Then all of a sudden I said to myself, wait a minute, those shirts look an awful lot like my collection that I’m waiting to turn into a quilt, shirts both from ASU and Wisconsin. Looks like we’ve lived somewhat similar walks of life.

  27. beanie g says:

    I made a t-shirt quilt for my husband for Christmas a couple of years ago. Coincidentially, he was also a swimmer, and coaches swimming & diving at Michigan State.

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