Wednesday, August 22, 2007

T-Shirt Blanket

Between the two of us, Chris and I had a lot of old t-shirts that we no longer wear, but just couldn't get rid of for sentimental reasons. Chris still wore some of them to bed, but because of the sentimentality attached, I knew this would eventually mean they would wear out from "threadbare" to "complete disintegration." So I decided to construct a t-shirt blanket, as I'd seen someone construct when I worked at Joann Fabrics.


My t-shirt book has been packed away in storage with some other books (so that we could "stage" our condo for showing), so I kind of just made it up. I made a square template out of cardboard. After a bit of experimenting, it seemed like a template that was 12" x 12" square was the best -- it nicely encapsulated most of the designs. If the logo on the shirt was longer, I just traced a "double" tile onto it, as in the number 12 one that you see in the photo. The next decision that I made was to just use the sports t-shirts, as we had enough of those to make one whole quilt. I reserved some of the other shirts for a future blanket.

I put the template on each shirt, traced the square with a Sharpie, and cut them out. I got two or more tiles out of some shirts, with the front and the back. Then I laid them out on a piece of fleece (though you could also use an old bedsheet) until I found a pattern that fit nicely on the fabric I had. I ended up with a blanket that was 6 squares long by 5 squares wide. I rearranged them until I was pleased with it, then I sewed each square together in rows. Then I sewed each row together. Then I just flipped the whole thing face-down on the fleece, pinned it to the fleece fabric, and cut around it.


The fleece was easy to use, because it has no nap, and no grain. So you can't cut it crooked. I also used some sleeve stripes as an embellishment on one tile. I just sewed it down before hemming the edges, because jersey knit won't unravel.


Lastly, I sewed around the edges, leaving about a foot open. Then I turned it right-side out, ironed the edges and seams, and hand-sewed the open corner. Then I machine-sewed all around it again to tack it down, and keep the top from shifting. That's it! I didn't iron the individual tile seams, or use any batting.

As you can see, there are some real gems in there. There is Kankakee stuff, gradeschool jerseys, my softball jersey from Chris' current company, fundraisers I helped arrange professionally, bike rides Chris has been on, Cubs stuff, Bluejay stuff (Chris' randomly picked childhood favorite), and others. And the whole thing is such a cool mix of Chris and I, it is like a kind of memory album for his life, my life, and our life. I also like the recycling aspect of it. It would be a great use for kids' jerseys and shirts that you just can't bear to get rid of!

And of course, it is super, super soft. Like a body-sized t-shirt!

39 comments:

nicole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nicole said...

I love this! I've had two giant bins of Evan & Maya's cutest baby clothes sitting in the basement for years because I wanted to make something like this out of them. As soon as I am willing to admit that there are no more babies in my future who might wear these clothes, I'll get on with the project!

a witt said...

Yuh! And you could make a smaller square, and use more of them...

Bob said...

I totally love this! I have saved so many show shirts thinking of doing something like this someday...now if I just had a sewing machine...if I cut out all the squares and sent you a check, would you make it into a blanket for me? :)
Love,
Brooke

haritha said...

wow they are really looking good. The idea was really nice. I love this!
cheers,
Rosy.
http://www.rhinestonetshirts.net/

a witt said...

Brooke, PFFFF! CHECK! Just send 'em over, girl! If you even wanna pick out your fleece, you can send that, too (about 1 to 2 yards, depending on how many shirts ya got). It could be any kind, plain or "themed" to fit. (Stars, maybe? :)

And Rosy, thanks for the visit!

cutecote said...

I like this... my dad wants me to make one with his old fire fighter shirts but i dont know where to start.. any tips and or helpers i could really use them im soooo lost

please and thank you

cutecote said...

wow i like this..

my dad wants me to make him one with his fire department shirts but i have no idea what to do ... can u please help me?

Please and Thank you

Anonymous said...

wow i like this..

my dad wants me to make him one with his fire department shirts but i have no idea what to do ... can u please help me?

Please and Thank you

Morgan

a witt said...

Hey there -- just make a template out of cardboard that will fit the t-shirts that you have. You can make it a 10 x 10, 11 x 11, 12 x 12 inch or any size that works for you. Then trace on the shirt with a sharpie marker, and cut them out. Sew them together, and lay them face down on a piece of plain fleece. Sew the squares to the fleece, leaving about six inches open. Turn it right side out, then hand-sew the opening. Then sew an inch inside the border to tack it down. That's it!

Case said...

I just googled T0shirt blanket and your blog came up, so you don't know me...
but I am wanting to make a t-shirt blanket and I love how yours turned out. I was just wondering if you ever had a hard time with the two sides (tshirts and fleece) not being attached in between? or does the fleece kind of hold it together? If you get this and have any help, can you just leave it as a comment on my blog?
Thanks!!

Randi said...

So, I have been wanting to make a t-shirt blanket for my husband using t-shirts from the sports leagues that he runs. And this is seriously the easiest instructions I have found, and the pictures really help too!

Thank you!

Phil said...

Hi! I was also curious about what Case said. IS it even an issue that the fleece and tshirts aren't connected throughout?

a witt said...

Sorry, guys! I had thought I answered that question, but I guess I didn't. I have made several of these now, and no, it isn't an issue at all. But remember, after I turn it right-side out, and then close it up, I do take the step of sewing it all again an inch or so inside the border. For some reason, this extra hem just inside the outside border keeps the whole thing from shifting. Even after a machine wash and turn in the dryer, it stays where it should.

If it doesn't work for you for some reason, you can always tack it in a few places. I'm thinking a decorative button on the plain side of the fleece..? But again, I've never needed to do that, and I've made them even larger than this size. Thanks!!

KatieZ said...

Thank you so much for these easy instructions! I made my mom a blanket for Christmas using my brother's shirts. He passed away when he was 22. I can't wait to see her face when she opens it! It turned out great! Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

so i was wondering, is there tshirts on both sides of the blanket???

a witt said...

Nope, one side is fleece.

Julie said...

Your instructions seem to be the easiest I have found. From your photos it looks like you used sweatshirt fleece not the fleece that is used for the knotted fleece blankets. When sewing the shirts together, what was the seam allowance?

ashley elizabeth said...

I love your instructions and I am so excited to get started. One question... hopefully not a dumb one. When you sew the tshirts to each other, how did you do it so that the seams are nice and neat the way your picture shows? I get the sewing to the fleece and then turning it inside out so that the seam is neat.. but how does it work sewing the shirts next to each other? Thanks so much!

ashley elizabeth said...

Thanks for the post! I am so excited to do this. However, I was wondering- when you sew the tshirts to each other, how do you do it so that the seams look neat the way they do in your pics? Thanks so much!

a witt said...

@ Ashley and Julie: Nope, it is just regular, low-pill fleece. Easy to cut, no grain or weave to it.

The t-shirt squares can be whatever size you find most convenient: I experimented with a 10", 11", and 12" square pattern and ended up with the 1 foot square. I pinned two together, then sewed along a regular 5/8" seam allowance, then did another the same until I had a row. I pressed the seam allowances open on all the backs... Then I sewed each row to the next, using a 5/8" seam allowance. Then I pressed all those seams open. They end up quite neat.

bammers said...

This looks so cool. I am going to try to make one for my boyfriend.

I have a question. Some of the tshirts I am going to use are a bit worn and thin. I was planning on affixing interfacing to make them more stable. Would interfacing the t-shirts mess with the feel of the blanket? Have you ever added interfacing? Any thoughts in general about interfacing?

Thanks so much!!

Anonymous said...

What kind of stitch did you use to sew the tee shirts together? Some of mine are pretty thin and worn I don't want them to tear, would a zig zag have more give?

Gina said...

I just used a straight stitch... I tried another one, but the blocks didn't lie as flat as I wanted (because the seam allowances didn't split and flatten). There isn't too much pull on the blanket once you have it assembled, but just in case I might try fusing your threadbare panes to a neutral fabric backing with fusible interface. That's what I'd try!

Gina said...

Sorry! I just noticed the previous comment!! Yes, that's just what I'd do. :) Haven't tried it yet, but the thinnest interfacing ought to do.

Luann said...

These directions are great! The best I've found! I have my squares sewn. Tomorrow I start with the fleece. I'm nervous, but your directions are reassuring. My dad passed away 8 years ago and I'm using his shirts to make a quilt for my mom. I made a square out of the back of a shirt and hand stitched a memorial to dad on it. I hope she loves it. It's made me cry making it, but it is cool. Thanks for making your instructions so clear and easy. The pics help! Thanks!

Bambilies said...

Thanks for the inspiration. I gave you a shout out on my blog: http://www.bambilies.com/2012/01/t-shirt-quilt.html

Happy crafting.

-Allison

Anonymous said...

I just wonder if you unsew the t-shirt first or lay it flat before cutting the square so I get it doble thickness. Nani

Michelle said...

question, i need to order my backing, seems like when you by fleece fabric it comes in yards but the width is not very wide.

i'm new to sewing and quilting, how do i go about order fabric for a quilt that is 90" by 100"?

Safire Lieurance said...

Hi! I love how your blanket turned out. I don't know how to sew and am sure I would mess up if I tried making on, since I don't have a sewing machine either.

Do you offer/know of anyone who offers a service to make these?
I would send the shirts and a money order so they could buy the proper amount of fleece and to pay for the labor.

Thanks!

Gina said...

Hi, I'm so sorry - I deliberated doing this for you, but as you can see, since I took months to get back to your comment, I probably am not the person to get it done in a timely manner. :(

My suggestion would be to go to your local sewing shop, and ask the ladies at the cutting counter if they know anyone who could do this. I've had good luck with that. If not, I could put you in touch with Nicole - her kids are a bit older than mine, and I know she gets some crafting done! Let me know!

Gina said...

And Michelle, to answer your question, I would sew two bolts of fleece side-by-side, as they are 45" wide (usually, some are 60") and together they'll total 90".

You could also buy two different colors, and divide them so that they make four large checkerboard-style squares... That way you'll get your width, and it'll look more like a design choice. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm not sure if you answered this yet, but which stich would be best to use? And is there a specific type of fleece to use?
thank you!

Anonymous said...

Hey, this was so helpful! But I was wondering how long/wide the fleece needs to be. And also if you can use sweatshirts?..
Thanks!
Micaela

Betsy said...

Hi there, I'm getting ready to complete my quilt! I've loved your instructions! I'm having trouble finding fleece to use as the backing. I'd love to use the sweatshirt material fleece (like what you used) so it's not so hot but I'm having trouble finding it in anything larger than 42 width. Where did you get yours?

Gina said...

Hello everyone!

I just used a straight-stitch, nothing fancy. I used a zig-zag along the top just to be decorative, but that's optional.

Refer to my above comments about width - I used 60" wide for this, but you can sew multiple panels together. It really just needs to fit your t-shirt side. I've used patterned, and non-patterned.

I didn't use sweatshirt fleece... Just run-of-the-mill, no-pill fleece. I use JoAnn Fabrics (http://www.joann.com//), which has a huge selection of fleece.

I'm sure you can do this with sweatshirts. I would only say that you should probably do ALL sweatshirts, or ALL t-shirts, just to be uniform in thickness.

miriam said...

Thank you SO MUCH for the wonderful tutorial! You made it look so easy--and it really was.

I used fleece from Malden Mills for the backing--they sell what they call "throws" which are unedged, Polartec fleece (made in the USA) and measure 60"x81". I guess they're, like, the ends of rolls or something, but they're plenty big enough. Some people on the internet complain about the fleece from China, with chemicals and stuff, so I feel good about using this.

I decided to alternate the direction of the squares, so some are right-side-up whichever way you're facing the blanket.

It only took me 2 days to do and it's gorgeous. Thanks again for the inspiration--you're a star!

Anonymous said...

I was looking on pinterest and just found this pin for the tshirt blanket that you did. I would love to make one but I dont have a sewing machine to do it. I see that you posted this a few years ago, but do you make these for people if they send you everything for it? if so how much do you charge?

Gina said...

Hi! This would take me at least five to seven hours to do, and I have always thought $100 would be fair for that much time. I realize that is steep, and I have no clue what others charge for this... I would point you to Etsy, put "t-shirt quilt" in your search bar, and see what others are charging. If you're still interested, you can email me at patbubo@yahoo.com. Thanks!