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Making Custom Quilts in 5 Easy Steps

If you’re a collector of t-shirts and find yourself with drawers of memories that you don’t want to forget but really don’t want to wear anymore, consider giving them some practical value by upcycling them into handmade quilts.

Making Custom Quilts in 5 Easy Steps

Custom quilts are a fantastic way to preserve memories or create a truly one-of-a-kind gift. With just a little bit of prep work (and a whole lot of t-shirts), you can give some of your treasured t-shirts a second life.

While there are online services that can make custom quilts for you, in this tutorial we are going to teach you how to make handmade quilts on your own in five easy steps.

1.) Divide out your t-shirts for your homemade quilts

While it’s perfectly acceptable to turn your entire t-shirt collection into a custom quilt, consider dividing your tees into themes and making multiple homemade quilts. You might have a closet full of tees from high school or college. Maybe you've collected them from various vacation spots or concerts. Whatever you decide, make sure you have enough. Here’s a simple guide:

Quilt Size        Shirts Needed

Lap                              16

Twin                            24

Full                              30

Queen                         49

King                             64

2.) Determine the fabric needed for your custom quilts

To make a full size custom quilt (60" x 72") you will need the following:

  • 30 t-shirts - Works best with graphics that are 9" or less wide and 10" or less tall. If you use the front and back of a single t-shirt, you will need fewer.
  • 14 ½ yards Pellon Featherweight Fusible (911FF)
  • 60" x 72" batting
  • 3/4 yard binding
  • 60" x 72" backing

PRO TIP: It’s best to wash and dry your tees before beginning. Shirts that are a little worn are fine but avoid using those with holes or rips.

3.) Cut your t-shirts for your handmade quilts

Using your rotary cutter, cut 30, 16" x 16" squares from the lightweight fusible interfacing.

Next, cut the shoulder seam, sleeve seams and side seams of each t-shirt. Then, position the fusible on the back of each t-shirt, paying attention to the graphic on the front of the t-shirt. Press the fusible interfacing onto the back of each piece according to the manufacturer’s directions.

PRO TIP: Do not place your iron directly on the T-shirt graphic because the ink may melt. Press on the back side of each T-shirt. 

Now it’s time to cut out your squares. To help you, AccuQuilt has two Studio dies that make cutting the T-shirts a breeze. The Studio T-Shirt Quilt Square-12" and Studio T-Shirt Quilt Square-16" feature registration pins for perfect alignment. If you are working with adult-sized tees, your block can be up to 16”. For child or junior shirts, the 12” square is best.

Cutting one T-shirt at a time is recommended so you can pay careful attention to the placement of the design. Feel free to cut more—keeping in mind that fusible web counts as a 1⁄2 layer of fabric and that t-shirts are thicker than typical quilting fabric.

Place your T-shirt on the die positioning the graphic in the center and cut.

Cut 30 squares.

4.) Sew your t-shirts together for your custom quilts

Lay out your squares to find a pleasing configuration. Remember that the top, bottom and sides will be trimmed later. Now it’s time to sew your rows. Take your first and second squares from the first row graphic sides together and sew the left side. Next, put square 3 on square 2 and sew the right edge together. Continue until you’ve sewn your row. Press seams open to reduce bulk.

Once all your rows are made, it’s time to put them together. Pin row 1 to row 2 graphic sides together, aligning seams and sew the top seam. Then, press your seam open. Repeat until all your rows are sewn together.

5.) Finishing up your custom quilts

Use your 6" x 24" ruler and a rotary cutter to square up the custom quilts along the top, bottom and both sides. Layer batting between the custom quilt top and backing. Next, pin or baste layers together.

Finally, machine quilt with your desired design. Add binding, mitering corners.

Show off your custom quilts!

Don't be afraid to show off your custom quilts to your friends and family by uploading those quilt pictures to social media! We'd love to see them too, so make sure to tag us @mymemorystitch!

If you're not up to creating handmade quilts yourself, or don't have the time or the tools, be sure to checkout out some online companies that make custom quilts, and they'll be sure to help you out! Some even offer additional add-ons such as embroidery to personalize your custom quilt even further!


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