Thursday, June 4, 2015

My first t-shirt quilt

Back in April, my friend Amy asked me if I knew anyone who made t-shirt quilts. Before admitting that I was capable of making one, I asked who it was for. :) 

When she said her husband, I told her I'd be happy to help.
Dennis was turning 40, and while packing to move houses, she'd stumbled across a plastic tote of t-shirts he'd saved to eventually turn into a t-shirt quilt. What a great 40th birthday present! The catch? His birthday was in a month. That's okay--nothing motivates me like a short timeframe! 

I made a Pinterest board to show her some ideas and was thrilled that she liked what I liked, which was one with a collage look like this rather than traditional rows.

We really had no idea how many t-shirts Dennis had or how many we'd need. So we laid them all out:
See me counting shirts in the picture?
We had over 60 and ultimately used 46 if I counted the finished quilt correctly.

I suggested we add in one or two cotton prints amongst the t-shirt squares like in this quilt since it seemed like the t-shirt sizes varied hugely. While I loved the collage look, I didn't want to mess with partial seams and fitting all the pieces together just like they were. So if you look closely at the quilt, it's pieced into six horizontal rows of varying widths (plus a red strip at the top and bottom to make it longer). The quilt still has that collage look, but the piecing was easy! Amy chose a gray and a red tonal to use on the front, and we'll be backing it with a Boston Red Sox print, a nod to another of Dennis' loves (he also went to the University of Michigan, in case you can't tell!).

Our first few work sessions were while our oldest and middle kids were at school and preschool, respectively, and our youngest kids (10 months and 8 months) crawled around on the floor and ate Cheerios while we cut, pressed, and sewed. Not bad productivity with that kind of "help!" :) 
Our last couple of work sessions took place at the much more productive time (at least for moms of 3 kids) of 9 pm until 1 am. We finished the quilt top two days before Dennis' surprise party. 

And guess what? He loved it. I love giving (or helping to give) quilts as gifts, but I love it even more when the recipient really seems thrilled. Can't wait to get this one quilted--it's on the waiting list for the machine quilter--and then goes to live with Dennis permanently.

I have to say, I'm really proud of how it turned out! 
And now I want to make my own t-shirt quilt! My husband and I went to college together, so I think I'd better start raiding our t-shirt collection to see what we might have...


  1. Very nice!! I've done a few of these. just finished a king size one and quilt it on my Tiara. I like how you staggered the blocks

  2. I'm psyched to make my own t-shirt quilt too. Yours came out wonderful!

  3. un trabajo chulisimo.
    Besicos, Maribel

  4. It is amazing!!!!!!!! Thanks for the beautiful surprise!!!!!

    I was amazed at the quality of the quilt's construction, and thanks for posting the "behind the scenes". Thank you for making my 40th birthday so special!