Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tshirt Quilt

I love lists. I make a list every single day on an app on my phone. I HAVE to check everything off before I go to bed that night. If I do something that isn't on my list I still have to add it so that I can check it off. I'm pretty sure it's a mental disorder. In addition to my daily lists, I have an app with my long-term goals in a list format. I have a list for movies I want to see, summer-goals, house work, etc. I have something that has been on my Miscellaneous list for years! I've always wanted to make a t-shirt quilt.  It has been driving me crazy because I couldn't check it off. I didn't know how to sew so how could I possibly make a quilt? To have it made it was going to cost $250-$500. A large blanket wasn't exactly in the budget. I also had a lot of shirts I wanted to include. The more shirts the more it would cost. A few weeks ago I decided that today was the day. I was going to make my quilt. I watched YouTube videos for like 2 hours on how to do it. YouTube taught me how to make cakes so I trusted it. The next day I went to pretty much every craft store in Memphis looking for the best deals for my supplies. That day I went to Michaels 3 times, Joann's 2 times and Hobby Lobby once. That doesn't count the 3 extra trips to Hobby Lobby, Michaels and Hancock that I made later before it was totally finished. 

It really wasn't hard. Of course I sought out my sewing magician grandmother for help. I even learned how to use a sewing machine and now I'm utterly obsessed.  If you can sew a straight stitch this project is a piece of cake. I used this site for reference a few times. It'll help you figure out your desired size based on your number of tshirts. 

Supplies based on my 6 shirt x 6 shirt quilt (appx $120 with coupons):

Fusible Interfacing (1/2 yard per tshirt)
Quilt batting (5 yards-This is optional. I just wanted my quilt extra fluffy)
Backing (5 yards-I chose fleece but you can choose really whatever you want)
Quilt Basting Spray
Large cutting mat (Appx 36x50)
Rotary Cutter
12.5 inch quilting square (Got mine at Hobby Lobby & Michaels)
6.5 inch quilting square (If you want to make 1 large square up of 4 little squares for little shirt details)
Solid white bandanna (Or you could use an old sheet or pillowcase)
Bias Tape Quilt Binding (Appx 8.5 yards-Just enough to go around all 4 completed edges plus a little extra - Hobby Lobby or Hancock Fabrics)
Thread that matches bias tape
Iron & ironing board
Sewing Machine with plenty of any color thread
Spool of clear thread
Large work space

The first thing you need to do is gather your beloved t-shirts and decide which ones you want to include. I had saved so many and ended up only using about 1/3 or less of them. The rest had to go in my parents' attic. Try and get a good mix of colors and designs to make it more interesting. Mine were all over the place. I laid mine out in the order I kinda wanted them so I could get a good picture of what it was going to look like.

Once you've done that, get your quilting squares, rotary cutter and cutting mat and cut out squares from each of your shirts of the design you want to include. Cut out the large designs with the 12.5 inch square. I chose to have 2 squares made up of 4 different little squares for little details on some of my shirts. Use the 6.5 inch square to cut these pieces out. Be careful when cutting these out. You'll save yourself a headache later if you take your time and don't rush through this step. 

After all of your shirts are cut out, use your quilting squares to cut out the same amount of squares of interfacing. Again, try and cut as accurately as possible. 

The next part is time consuming. You just have to be patient. Iron the back of each shirt the the fusible side of the interfacing. THIS IS IMPORTANT: Be sure to use the white bandanna (or whatever you decided to use) when ironing. Place it over the design on the shirt and then put the iron on top of that. If you don't the design might melt onto the iron and it just makes a huge mess and you don't want that. The bandanna acts as a barrier between the two. T-shirt material is really bouncy and shrinks once it's cut because the edges roll up. The interfacing solves this problem and makes things much easier when you're trying to sew them all together. So, iron every shirt to the interfacing. I had to stretch the shirts to go over each edge of the interfacing. They won't match up perfectly and that's okay.

Once the shirt was totally fused to the interfacing, I turned the whole thing over and used my quilting square and rotary cutter again to cut off the excess shirt hanging over the sides. 

 I felt so accomplished when they were all done!

Next, lay out your shirts in the order you'd like for them to be. I ran out of room so I had to overlap some for the picture. The dog I was dog sitting that week loved watching me make this. Love me some Marcy.

Now to the sewing! This is where my grandma came in. I went to her house and we went to work. We worked in rows. We started with the top row and turned the first 2 shirts where they were facing each other and sewed a seam along the side that was 1/4 in deep. You cut the squares 12.5x12.5 inches leaving 0.25 inches on each side for the seam. You want the finished square to be 12x12. Same goes for the smaller ones. They're 6.5x6.5 inches and you want the finished squares to be 6x6. Continue until the row is finished and repeat. Be sure to double check to make sure the shirts are facing the right way before you sew. I was paranoid about this because I didn't want to have to rip out the seam and redo it. Another thing to consider: The interfacing walks really bad. I feel cool saying that because I just learned what it means. It likes to bunch up when going through the sewing machine. Just be aware of that and do your best to keep it straight. Isn't she cute?

Once you've finished sewing your rows, iron each of the seams open. After we did that on the back of the row we flipped it over and ironed the front too (remembering not to iron over shirt designs without the heat barrier).

THEN the time has come to sew the rows together! Turn them to where they're facing each other and sew the seam along the edge (just like when you were sewing them individually only on a bigger scale). After we sewed our first 2 rows together we were so happy!

Continue until everything is sewed together!! Ta da!! We were SO proud of ourselves.

*Notice the 2 larger squares made up of the 4 little squares. I love the contrast they added to the overall look.

Next, I went home and worked into the night as I usually do. I had to stop on the way home from my grandma's to get the quilt basting spray. They had 1 can left at Michaels and it was $17. Be sure to use your coupon! 

First thing I did was, again, iron the seams open. I already did the rows and now I had to do the columns. I like to iron it from the front after I do the back for extra stability. When you're cuddling with your quilt you don't want to feel the seams through the fabric.

I cut my fleece and batting in half (they were 5 yards each and I cut them into 2 2.5 yard can even get them to do this at the store) and sewed the sides together so they'd cover the whole quilt. I lined up the seams so they'd fit nicely down the center of my quilt. Be sure to leave extra fabric of each hanging over the sides (in other words, don't cut the batting and backing to the exact size of the quilt until later). Each side of my quilt (6 shirts by 6 shirts) was 2 yards. I had about .25 yards hanging over each side. You'd rather be safe than sorry! Better too big than too short!

After these 2 things were sewed and I was sure they'd fit on the back of my quilt I got to basting. 

The quilt basting spray is just a spray adhesive. Note that I said spray. It's an aerosol so you don't want to use it in a small space. Outdoors is best but I had to deal with what I had. Since it was like 10 PM and dark I had to do it indoors. I could've waited till morning but I'm terribly impatient. It's a terrible flaw. I couldn't use the basting spray on my hardwood and the only rooms in the house without hardwood were the bathrooms and the kitchen. Don't use it on carpet either. I had to totally rearrange my kitchen to do this. My kitchen has nasty linoleum that I've been dying to tile for a while (next project? It's on my long-term house to-do list) so I wasn't concerned about getting the spray on it (it cleaned right up with my Swiffer wet jet). Also, do it right next to a door that you can open while you're spraying. Again, it's best to do this outside. It was like 100 degrees that night and I had my door open and bugs were flying everywhere...not cool. Try not to directly inhale it either. I was holding my breath while I did it and I still got a tad bit light headed. I immediately got some hot fresh air outside. Got it done though!

So...I first layed my quilt face down on the floor then layed the batting on top of it, being sure to line up the middle seam of the batting with the middle seam of the t-shirt portion of the quilt. This is important. Once I got it lined up, I sprayed the adhesive to attach the back of the shirts to the batting section by section. After this I used the spray to adhere the seam of the batting open. 

Do the same thing with the backing! BE SURE to line up the seams again. I wasn't careful about doing this and it looked a little sloppy after my next step. Spray the adhesive and attach the batting to the backing.

After this, you can die. So hot. So buggy. So soft.

After this, flip your quilt over and cut off the excess batting and backing. Don't get it too short!

Look how pretty! It's finally starting to come together! And you thought you couldn't do it.

The next day I got back to sewing. My mom has a nice machine so I stole it to continue on with my project. Now it's time to sew down each row and column through all 3 layers. I rolled up the sides and safety pinned them and just stuck the whole thing through my machine. It wasn't easy but it happened. I used clear thread because you can actually see it on the back of the quilt. Sew straight lines until you've sewed down each row and column. Remember that you want to sew a line down the center row (the one that lines up with the center seam of the batting and backing) that matches up with your other seams. This is where I messed up. No one will probably notice but me. It's all good in the hood.

Ta da!! It's an actual quilt! Now all you have left are the edges using your bias tape quilt binding!


We got this pretty purple bias tape from Hancock Fabrics. They have so many to choose from. Be sure to get the double fold bis tape quilt binding. I actually ordered bias tape online from Singapore thinking it'd be cheaper. I got 9 yards for $10 (including shipping). I put the project on hold for 2 weeks waiting for it to come in the mail. It came and was TINY and single fold. No way it was going to work. Went to Hancock and it was $3 a package...$1 cheaper and just what I needed. Good times. Don't do what I did. Go to Hancock first.

It was really easy to put on! It might be better if you look up how to attach it on Youtube. We sewed it around the edges from the front side. My grandma volunteered to hand sew it around the edges on the back side.

The corners were a little tricky. I learned how to do it via this link:

Once we sewed the bias tape along the front side with the machine, we pinned it in its place on the back side. 

My grandma then used her amazing stitching skills and finished it up for me. She used a whip stitch. It looked really easy. Again, Youtube.

Again, isn't she cute??

 Here are the finished corners:




Here's what it looks like on our bed for scale. We have a queen. If you added 2 more shirts to each row it'd make a perfect queen sized bed spread. This size would probably be great on a full sized bed.

 I can't believe how great this project turned out. When I decided to start this I had NO IDEA how to sew. Anyone can do it. Anyone. The internet is a great place to learn new trades. It didn't let me down again.

Now I'm obsessed with sewing. While I was waiting for my bias tape to arrive I made 2 double-sided table runners, 6 double-sided place mats, and my husband, dog and my Halloween costumes ( July...don't judge me).

If you decided to take on this project let me know and send me any questions you may have. I might be able to help. I'd love to see pictures too!! I'm so excited about my new quilt. I love it even more knowing I made it with my own hands and I got to spend a lot of quality time with my grandma as well. One of the best things of all, I got to check it off my list!!