Thursday, January 14, 2016

T-Shirt Quilt Tips

Happy Harper Quilts

T-shirt quilts are a great way to preserve memories (and get rid of all those extra shirts taking up valuable space in your closet!!).  T-shirt Quilt Camps are available through Happy Harper Quilts.  Check the CAMP SCHEDULE for the next available class.

Here are a few tips before you get started with your first T-shirt quilt project:

Square Rulers

Do I really need one?

A square ruler is extremely helpful when squaring up your blocks.  You can do without, but you will be sorry, especially for t-shirt quilting! A clear square ruler like this one above helps you center your logo and cut consistent blocks out of all your shirts. If you do not want to splurge about $30 for the square ruler, I suggest making yourself a square template out of cardboard or a clear plastic of some sort to help with consistency.
What size should I buy?

Grab the appropriate size depending on shirt size. (e.g. if making a shirt for your teenage daughter that wears size small, go with 9 ½ x 9 ½ inch ruler (or 12 ½ by 12 ½, if the logos are large and take up the whole shirt). If you are making a quilt out of your dad’s XL shirts, you may need a 15 x 15!  Measure your largest logo and add an inch, is a good rule of thumb, for choosing which size ruler to purchase.

Where do I buy a square ruler?

You can purchase these rulers at retail stores or online.  Best prices are at: Wal-Mart, Hancock Fabrics (online), Amazon (online), and Hobby Lobby (with 40% off coupon App).  I bought mine online at for a ridiculously low price and free shipping and Promo code. 

 Fusible Interfacing

What is it?

Interfacing (sometimes called stabilizer) is a lightweight, paper-like material that is ironed on to the back of fabrics to make them more stable and easier to work with.  For t-shirts, it helps reinforce the shirts, which are stretchy and have a lot of give.  If you have not worked with fusible interfacing or stabilizer before, here is what I would recommend: Pellon 911FF Fusible Featherweight White (about $3.49/yard). 
When purchasing fusible interfacing remember:
1)  You want something that is not too flimsy, but not thick either. 
2)  Make sure it is "fusible", i.e. you can iron it on.
3)  Use a coupon if you are buying at a retail store!

How much to buy?

Formula:  Number of t-shirts times how many inches the t-shirt block will be (between 12-15 inches) divided by 36.
E.g. My t-shirt had 25, 15 inch shirts/blocks, so: 
(25x15)/36=10.416 yards.  So I bought 11 yards.

Where do I buy it?

You can find interfacing at local retail or craft stores.  I like to buy it “off the bolt” from Hobby Lobby or Hancock Fabrics and use my 40% off coupon (you can apply it to one “cut” of fabric or interfacing), so you will get 40% off all of it!  It ain’t cheap, so this is a great tip to help save money!  Mine for the above example cost me about $20.

 Washing T-shirts

Do I really need to wash my shirts before camp? 

No.  Not unless they are smelly, wrinkly, or you just really love doing laundry.  The point is to have clean, no-wrinkle shirts so that it is easier for you to square up and interface them!  The interfacing is in iron-on transfer, so the wrinkles will come out anyway when interfacing is applied.  But again, if your shirts have been crumpled up in storage since high school (me? Who me? No…), then wash ‘em up!

Types of Shirts
 Can I use my 1980’s cheerleading uniform in my quilt?

Um, . . . depends.  Many of us have shirts, uniforms, jerseys, etc. that are not cotton, and we would like to incorporate them into a t-shirt quilt.  I understand the sentiment.  I was a majorette (twirler, sans fire) in high school, and I have satin-y, sequin-y twirling uniforms that I could incorporate into a quilt!  (But, I did not).  Here is why:  Interfacing, cutting, and sewing heavy polyester cheerleading uniforms or satin dance uniforms (with sequins, no less) can prove challenging and requires extra patience. For my clients, I usually opt out of incorporating these items and instead suggest they find a different way to preserve them, like a shadow box.  It is not impossible to incorporate non-cotton clothing items, but make sure to really “study” the material before cutting up your favorite high school jersey or dance uniform.  If you think you can work with it with ease, I say go for it!


Happy Quilting,

Happy Harper Quilts

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