T-Shirt Quilt {Graduation Gift}

My baby cousin Kimberly graduated from High School back in June. I remember when she was born, so it's hard to believe that she's already in college. I always feel like I'm in a huge time warp! 

Although my family has moved around quite a bit the last few years, it seems like every chance we get we link up with extended family, and thankfully Kim is an accomplished soccer goalie, every time her team played nearby, we'd try to watch her play...She has played on many, many teams...knowing all of that...I offered to sew Kim a quilt using her jerseys as her graduation gift. She accepted and before starting her freshman year of college, she mailed me a huge box of her jerseys. This is what I created: 

And here she is with her quilt: 

She is seriously the cutest, sweetest thing...she's turned into a lovely young woman, with a kind + loving heart. And she's a rock star goalie! I hope she loves this quilt until it's filled with holes and is a sad little bunch of threads...in my opinion, that's the sign of a really good quilt....

For some reason, I always anticipate making a t-shirt quilt will be an extreme challenge, but in the end I actually really loved working on this project. 

So, I'm sorry for the all of the pictures, but here is how I made a t-shirt quilt: 

Start with a stack of t-shirts. 

Going one shirt at a time, use scissors to trim the sides of the shirt up to the armpits:

Cut the bottom of the sleeves open, to the armpits. Push the opposite side of the shirt toward the neckline, so that only one side of the shirt remains on the cutting mat.

Using a rotary cutter and quilting ruler (on a self healing mat) carefully align the ruler and trim the jersey.

This quilt was made with 12.5" square blocks, but any size block should work, depending on the pattern selected. 

Once the block has been cut from the shirt, this is what is left: 

T-shirts are made from cotton jersey, an extremely stretchy fabric. One of the most important part of quilting is having blocks that are consistent size. It is necessary to use iron-on, fusible interfacing, cut to the same size (12.5" square) to backside of each quilt block. {Follow the directions of the interfacing, I believe I used Pellon light-weight iron-on interfacing.}


Here is the interfacing ironed on to the jersey. Notice that little corner isn't floppy?! Yay, interfacing!

Once all of the jerseys have been cut, and interfacing applied, I determined I needed additional blocks/fillers. For the first time, I used iron-on printable on black jersey blocks to create additional blocks. I also used iron-on vinyl from my Silhouette machine to write a special message. {These pictures are after the quilt was finished:}

Here is a graduation picture: 

I used a variety of family photos as well as special quotes:

Once I had enough blocks, I determined my layout. I decided rather than sewing even rows, I would bump the 2nd + 4th columns using 6.25" blocks. The smaller blocks were cut to 6.5" and sewed into 12.5" blocks (using 1/4" seams) and put into the center "heart" of the quilt. 

I mixed and matched the layout, trying to avoid having similar colors too close. In the end, I liked having the jersey numbers on the outer columns, in numerical order. 

Once I was happy with the final layout, each column (from top to bottom) was sewed together (using 1/4" seams.) I ironed the 1st, 3rd, and 5th columns towards the top; and the 2nd + 4th columns towards the bottom. That helped when sewing the columns together. Once all of the blocks in the column are sewn together, sew the columns together (1st + 2nds together, then 4th + 5th together then 2nd to 3rd and 3rd to 4th.)

My finalized quilt was large and required the backing fabric to be pieced together. Then create a quilt sandwich (quilt backing, wrong side facing up, followed by batting, and then the quilt top) pin together all three layers with safety pins, being certain no folds, wrinkles, or creases are in any of the layers. Quilt the layers together, being careful to avoid sewing over any safety pins.

Finish the quilt by sewing on a quilting cotton (non-jersey) bias binding.

The quilt backing I chose was a flannel plaid, sort of 70s. Fabulous like a stadium blanket. Cozy. Soft. The pattern I chose included the color of her new college team, as well as many of the colors from the teams of her past. I really love the backing!

And a final tid-bit of the quilt, I always have little helpers nearby. It makes every project take a little longer. Dinner get started a little later. And of course, I let them play with the pins and the magnetic holder. Here is my little guy coloring while I was quilting:

But, somehow projects do get finished, sometimes while I share a chair with my little guy. Oh well.

Have you ever made a t-shirt quilt? Isn't it a great way of using old t-shirts?
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