Monday, January 28, 2013

T-shirt Quilts

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about a denim quilt that I made for my son's girlfriend for Christmas.  This weekend, I intended to start one for my stepson Jesse's 28th birthday in April, but reading won out over sewing, and two novels later, it's Monday and I did nothing interesting all weekend to post about.

So I'm going back into the archives of life and pulling out pix of some other quilts I've made over the past couple of years.

I got started on T-shirt quilts several years ago because I'm a runner, and anyone who does a lot of races ends up with a lot of shirts. I made a few quilts for myself and other runners and then branched out into other subjects.  This one was made for a client who worked at a summer camp and wanted a gift for her boss:  The shirts all had the same logo, but the variety of colors helped liven it up.  I used a menswear-looking oxford stripe fabric that I had bought at a thrift store for the borders and red flannel for a decorative top and the back:

This one is made out of my great-niece Anna's baby clothes from her first year.  My niece Danielle sent me a box of clothes, and I used literally every scrap to make this work.  The lilac check and stripe sheets are from L.L. Bean:

My daughter Christine played travel soccer for 15 years, and I made her several quilts out of tournament and practice shirts.  I surprised her when she came back from a summer in Nantucket with this one made from shirt backs with just numbers on them.  I made the quilt back and border with a dark plaid cotton sheet from Ralph Lauren (Goodwill), and the sashing was remnants from Anna's quilt:

A year later, I had this crazy quilt made for her when she got back from New Zealand. The freeform organization of the T-shirts makes for a cool design, but it was a nightmare to put together.  I told her she got the only one like that I will ever make:

This one was made for a client -- a young woman whose husband had died.  She wanted something for her six-year-old son to remember him by.  She didn't have a lot to work with, but I was able to use one of her husband's flannel shirts for the vertical sashing to break up the plain T-shirts.  I also salvaged the pockets and appliqued them to two of the plain shirts.  The border, back, and horizontal sashing were made from a king-size duvet cover that I bought at a thrift store:

I made this one for a client from his Army fatigues. The picture isn't very good, but I was able to use the buttons and name tags as well as the fabric.

I'm not a highly technical seamstress, and I sew with a 1970s avocado-green portable Kenmore machine.  My quilting is all done with yarn--these are all "tied quilts."  What excites me is the design--I love that moment of opening a bag or box of shirts and figuring out what to do with them.


  1. I saw your comment on Vintage Home Love's blog and followed you over here to check out your cottage redo. (Which is amazing by the way!) Just had to tell you I love your quilts. I'm going to try my hand at a t-shirt quilt in the next couple of months for hubby's 40th birthday. I love the way yours look and I really love the way you repurpose other fabric for the strips and the backing. I'm a Goodwill addict.

    1. I'm a Goodwill and thrift store addict too! Good luck with the quilt. One of the most important steps is to reinforce the backs of the shirt squares with iron-on webbing (it has adhesive on one side). Otherwise, the pieces are too floppy to work with. I hope it goes well for you--thanks for stopping by!