T-Shirt Memory Quilts


I have made many of these quilts for people over the years. They are such a fun keepsake, and make great gifts for people. You could use team shirts from sports teams, high school activities, races, or shirts that had belonged to a loved one. They are a great way to preserve memories and pretty easy to make with basic sewing skills.

** These instructions work best with Adult Medium shirts or larger.

Here’s how I make mine:

  1. Choose approximately 12-20 t-shirts that you want to preserve. Be sure the number of shirts will easily arrange into a quilt that is 3 X 4, 4 X 4, 4 X 5, 5 X 5, or 5 X 6. 30 shirts is the most I have ever done with my little sewing machine. These get really heavy and difficult to maneuver with larger numbers of shirts.
  2. Measure the design area you want to preserve on each shirt.  Choose the largest design area needed and cut all the blocks the same size. I like to do 12.5″ squares because I have a template that size, but you may want to go up if the logos are larger.
  3. Cut off a 7″ strip from the tail of each shirt. Set these aside.
  4. Center the design area in the block size on a rotary cutting mat. Cut around the design area using both the front and back of the shirt, but measuring from the side with the design. If you wish to use designs from the front and back, separate them and cut them separately.
  5.  For the number of shirts you have, cut 2 squares of lightweight fusible interfacing (non-woven works best) that are 1 inch smaller than your shirt squares.
  6. Fuse the interfacing to both the back and front of the shirts, on the insides. So the back of the shirt back and the back of the shirt front will each have interfacing.
  7. Cut one piece of quilt batting for each shirt that is one inch smaller than the shirt square. (*optional as these quilts are quite heavy without the batting)
  8. Make a sandwich of the back of the shirt (right side out with interfacing on the back), quilt batting, and the front of the shirt (right side out with interfacing on the back). Pin several times over the area of the block. ** At this point the design area becomes the front of the block, even if it was originally on the back of the shirt.
  9. Quilt on the machine some aspect of the design area using a long stitch, regular presser foot or walking foot if you have one. The regular foot works, but will have some puckers on the back. If you do not wish to follow the design you could make one large X through the square.
  10. Sew 1/2″ around the outside of each block, connecting all layers of the sandwich.
  11. When all blocks are quilted and sewn 1/2″ around the edges, arrange in a pleasing arrangement. I like to use 20 blocks (4 X 5), but sometimes there aren’t that many shirts, so just go with what you’ve got.
  12. Connect the blocks in rows, using the 1/2′ seam as a guide, bringing ALL raw edges to the front of the quilt. The back of the quilt will be completely smooth. Cute a 1/2″ square out at each corner of each block. This will enable you to sew straight across to complete the rows. After all rows are connected, connect the rows.
  13. Cut 15′ strips out of the 7″ strips. Fuse the iron-interfacing to these in the same manner as the blocks, cutting the interfacing to 14″ X 6′.
  14. Cut the batting for these strips a bit wider then 3.5″ X 14″ to give an extra soft edge. Roll the t-shirt fabric around the batting and sew the 3 raw edges. DO NOT sew the rolled edge. This edge becomes the edge of the quilt. Cut out 1/2″ squares out of the 2 corners of this piece (not the rolled edge).
  15. Sew these strips in a row that fits the top and bottom of the quilt and attach one to the top and one to the bottom, again pulling the raw edges to the front.
  16. In the same manner as step 15, create a border for the two remaining sides, be sure to make it long enough to stretch from bottom border to top border plus 1/2″ on each end. Fold in half lengthwise (wrong side out) and sew ends closed. Turn so that the right sides are out. Attach side borders.
  17. Now your quilt is completely pieced. The raw seam allowances are all to the front of the quilt. Carefully clip the seam allowances to make about 1/4″ strips which will become fringe. Be careful not to clip through your seams creating a hole in your quilt.
  18. This completes the quilt. Enjoy!

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