Skip to main content

«  View All Posts

Planning a T-shirt Quilt /
Comparing T-shirt Quilts

3 Things to Know Before You Order a Custom T-shirt Quilt

November 15th, 2021

By Andrea Funk

Are you considering having a quilt made from your T-shirts? Cool. So, what do you need to do to begin?  

1. Decide what type and style of quilt you want.
2. Find a great quilt maker.
3. Prepare your T-shirts for a quilt.

1. Figure out what type and style of T-shirt quilt you want.

To figure this out, you need to know two things. First, do you want a blanket or quilt? And second, what style quilt do you want?

Blanket vs. Quilt

If you are like most people, you might think that a quilt and a blanket are the same. But they differ in three ways.

  1. Number of layers.
    Basically, a blanket has two layers, and a quilt has three. A quilt and a blanket both have a top made from the T-shirts. They both have a backing fabric you see on the back. But a quilt has a third layer. This is the batting. The batting is the “stuffing” in a quilt. It is inside between the quilt’s front and back.
  2. fleece on the back of a T-shirt blanketWhat connects the layers.
    A blanket has nothing holding the front to the back. As you see in the photograph here, you can pull the back and front apart. Conversely, a quilt has stitching, called quilting, that connects the three layers. You can find quilts with simple and functional quilting. Or you can seek out quilts with spectacular quilting. Better quilts have unique quilting. Click for a deeper dive into quilting.
  3. Cost
    A blanket will cost a fifth of what a quilt costs for several reasons. First, a blanket doesn’t require the equipment needed to do the quilting. Owning a long-arm quilting machine is like having a small car in your work room! They are expensive. Read about what goes into the cost of a T-shirt quilt.

    Second, a blanket maker needs fewer skills than a quilt maker. Blankets are simple to make. This means that someone with limited skill and experience can make a blanket. Is this what you want for your T-shirts?

    Third, a blanket takes a tenth of the time to make as a quilt. Time is money.

What Style quilt do you want? 

Variable style T-shirt quilt vs traditional style blanketNow that you have decided on a quilt or blanket, it’s on to style. There are five typical styles of T-shirt quilts. Each style has its pros and cons. Below are quick definitions of each style. For the complete discussion, click here

  • Traditional with Sashing - The designs on the T-shirts are all cut the same size. The blocks get laid out in columns and rows. Thick strips of cotton fabric called sashing, divide the columns and rows.
  • Traditional without Sashing – As above, all the T-shirt blocks the same size. A quilter sews the blocks into rows and columns.
  • Unequal Rows or Columns – A quilter chooses two or three standard block widths. They cut the blocks using a width that fits the design on the T-shirt.  The length of the block is whatever length the T-shirt calls for. The quilter sews columns of matching widths. Next, they sews the columns to one another. They would sew a wide column to a narrow column and so on. 
  • Stained-glass T-shirt quilt by Too Cool T-shirtCrazy Quilt - A quilter manually cuts the graphics on the T-shirts into different shapes. Next, they glue the blocks on to a single piece of fabric or bed sheet. The quilter zigzags around each block to attach them to the sheet.
  • The Too Cool Style (aka: Variable Style) - All the blocks cut from the T-shirts are different sizes and shapes. The quilter puzzles the blocks together so that there are no columns or rows. Too Cool T-shirt Quilts created this style of T-shirt quilt in the early 1990’s.
  • Too Cool Stained-Glass Style - All the blocks cut from the T-shirts are different sizes and shapes. The quilter puzzles the blocks together so that there are no columns or rows. Then a thin strip of "leading" is sewn between the blocks. This is the coolest style of T-shirt quilt.  The gray and orange quilt here is an example of the stained-glass style quilt. Read more here. 

Read more about the different styles of T-shirt quilts here.

5 styles of T-shirt quilts

To learn more about having a quilt made from your T-shirts, download our free T-shirt Quilt Buyer's Guide. 
It's a great place to learn about the different styles and quality of T-shirt quilt.

T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide

2. Find a great quilt maker

Sewers Working at Too Cool T-shirt QuiltsHave you have decided what type and style of T-shirt quilt you want? Excellent. Your next step is to find a qualified T-shirt quilt maker. If this is your first T-shirt quilt, you might not know what questions to ask.

To help, here are six questions you can ask your quilt maker. For a complete list of questions and answers, you can click here.

  1. Are they a skilled T-shirt quilt maker? 
  2. How many T-shirt quilts have they made in the style you want?
    It takes more than 2 or 3 quilts. It takes 100’s to make a quilter competent. Even more to be an expert. Too Cool T-shirt Quilts invented T-shirt quilts made with multiple size blocks! We are the experts.
  3. Is the quilter making the entire quilt? Ask if they are sending your T-shirt quilt out for long-arm quilting. If so, they are not making the entire quilt themselves. Ask that question! 
  4. Fabric room 2019What quality of material is the quilter using?
    High quality materials are a must for an awesome T-shirt quilt. Ask what materials she uses. Read more about material qualities here.
  5. Are they smokers? Choose a 100% smoke free home or workshop. Too Cool T-shirt Quilts is 100% smoke free.
  6. The turnaround time? A turnaround time of 4 to 8 weeks is industry standard. If the turnaround time is longer, this is a red flag. They might not have enough time to devote to your quilt. They may have too many quilts to focus on your quilt. 

3. Follow your chosen quilt maker’s directions

The process of making a Too Cool T-shirt QuiltWhen you settle on a quilt maker, you need to focus on their directions.  Every quilt maker has different directions for you to follow.  It’s important to follow your quilt maker’s directions.

If you follow someone else’s direction bad things can happen. It sounds trivial, but it is not! Don’t base your expectations on the wrong directions. You could find yourself with a quilt you hate.

So that doesn’t happen to you, here are some helpful hints. 

  • Bookmark the website of the T-shirt quilt company you choose to make your quilt. Be sure to delete bookmarks of any other company.
  • Every company has unique directions for marking your T-shirts. Don’t make your own directions. This can confuse your quilt maker.  Quilt makers have developed their directions to streamline their process. Follow their directions and it will make the process better.
  • boxing up your T-shirts for a quiltGet a tracking number when you ship your package.
  • If you don’t hear from your quilter once they receive your box, call them.
  • Clearly print your e-mail address on your order form. Check that e-mails from your quilter don’t land in your junk mail. 
  • Don’t micromanage the process.  Some directions are great, but too many are burdensome. 

Having a great T-shirt quilt made takes research, planning and direction following. In the end, the effort is worth it when you have a great quilt made from your T-shirts.  

To learn more about having a quilt made from your T-shirts, download our free T-shirt Quilt Buyer's Guide. 
It's a great place to learn about the different styles and quality of T-shirt quilt.

T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide

 An awesome Stained-glass T-shirt quilt by Too Cool T-shirt Quilts


Andrea Funk

Andrea Funk is the inventor of T-shirt quilts made with multiple blocks sizes. The modern method of making T-shirt quilts. In 1992 she founded Too Cool T-shirt Quilts. Her life has been immersed in T-shirt quilts ever since.