Andrea Funk

By: Andrea Funk on March 7th, 2016

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9 Hacks to Save Money on Your T-shirt Quilt

Finding a T-shirt Quilt Maker

When it comes to purchasing a T-shirt quilt, a lot of considerations come to mind: style, quality, what shirts to put in, and of course how much it's all going to cost. Having a T-shirt quilt made can be very costly. It generally comes down to the materials, time, and the process in which it's made. Here are a some areas where money can be saved in the process of having your quilt made.

1. Choose a company that doesn’t fix sewing error

poor workmanship on a t-shirt blanketLook for a T-shirt quilt company or sewer that does not fix their errors. You will see this on the face of the quilt. Blocks will not align, corners will not meet, and there might even be holes.

How does this save money?

  • The quilt top is not reviewed after the sewing is completed. This saves money because no one has to take a few minutes and look for errors.
  • No time is spent ripping out and replacing seams that are not perfect.
  • Expert seamstresses are not required, thus the company can save money by paying lower wages.

How does this effect your quilt?  

  • Blocks will not be aligned.
  • Corners will not come together perfectly.
  • You will see the poor workmanship every time you look at your quilt.

2. Have a blanket rather than a quilt made

t-shirt blanketA quilt is made up of three layers and a blanket two. Look for a company that uses polar fleece on the back of their blankets and does no quilting.

How does this save money?

  • There is not any time spent quilting the blanket.
  • There is no investment in a long-arm quilting machine – these cost about the same as a small car.
  • Since no batting is used in a blanket, batting does not have to be purchased so this cost savings can be passed on to you.
  • Without a long-arm quilting machine, there is not the expense of special threads.
  • Generally T-shirt blankets do not have bindings – this is also a cost saver.

How does this effect your quilt?

  • You won’t have a quilt – it will be a blanket.
  • The face of the quilt and backing fabric will not be connected and thus it will wear poorly.
  • Longevity is suspect. 

3. Choose a quilter who does just the minimal amounts of quilting.

not enough quilting on a T-shirt QuitlQuilting holds the quilt top, batting and backing together. To save money, look for quilts that have less and more spread out quilting. In the photo to the right, you are seeing nearly the entire back of the quilt. This is not enough quilting to hold the three layers together well.

How does this save money?

  • The quilt will need spend less to quilt, thus freeing the quilting machine up to do another quilt.
  • The less quilting there is, the lower the labor cost.
  • Less thread will be used. 

How does this effect your quilt?

  • There will not be enough quilting to hold the quilt top, batting, and backing together. The result will be that the batting will bunch and wad up over time. 
  • The quilt will look cheap.

4. Find a company that use long very long quilting stitches.

Quilt stitches too longQuilts are typically quilted with 10 to 12 stiches per inch. To save money, look for a quilting that only use 5 to 6 stitches per inch.

How does this save money?

  • Less thread will be used.
  • The quilting time is cut in half, thus the labor is cut in half.

How does this effect your quilt?

  • The stitches will not hold over time.
  • The stitches will come unstitched easily.
  • The stitches can be easily caught on objects and snagged.
  • The quilt will look cheap.

5. Choose a quilt without a binding

blanket with no bindingAll quality quilts have full binding. As a reminder, the binding covers the raw edges of the quilt top, batting and backing. To save money look for a quilt company that does not bind their quilts. They will use a birthing or pillow case method. 

How does this save money?

  • Sewing on a binding takes skill – with no binding, a skilled sewer is not required and thus entry-level labor can be used.
  • Using a birthing method saves time and thus, lowers the labor cost.
  • Since the backing is sewn to the quilt top and then turned inside out, additional fabric will not need to be used to make the binding.

How does this effect your quilt?

  • Your quilt or blanket will look like it was made in a hurry.
  • If the backing or quilt top are not exactly the same size, the one side will roll up into the other.
  • Your blanket might look like it was made by a grade-schooler.

6. Choose a T-shirt quilt company that uses very inexpensive or cheap materials.

Typically the less a T-shirt quilt cost, the cheaper the fabric being used.

How does using inexpensive fabric, batting and thread save money?

  • The less money a quilt company or quilter has to spend on fabric, thread and batting, the less a quilt will cost because these saving are reflected in the price of a T-shirt quilt.

How does this effect your quilt?

  • Inexpensive materials are less durable and as a result, your quilt will not last as long.
  • Your quilt will feel bad to the touch because cheap backing fabric feels rough and scratchy.
  • Cheap batting will bunch and wad up after just a wash or two.
  • No one will fight over your quilt when you die.

7. Find a T-shirt quilt company that doesn’t pre-wash the backing material.

washing backing materialAll backing fabrics should be washed before they are used. This insures that the fabric won’t shrink or bleed after it has be made into a quilt. To find a company that does not prewash their fabric, look for companies that tell you to dry-clean a T-shirt quilt. Any T-shirt quilt should be machine washable, unless there is a dry-clean only item in a T-shirt quilt.

How does this save money? 

  • If backing fabric is not washed before they are used, laundry facilities are unneeded. This saves the cost of the machines and the cost to run them.
  • No laundry detergent will need to be purchased.
  • Labor is saved because no one spending time doing laundry.
  • There is not a lag time between cutting the fabric and using it.

How does this effect your quilt?

  • You will need to dry clean your quilt.
  • If you don’t dry clean, the backing material will shrink, which will cause the batting to bunch up.
  • The backing material’s color could bleed and ruin your T-shirts.
  • You will be less likely to use your quilt because of the fear of getting it dirty and having to take it to the dry-cleaners.

8. Choose a quilt company that offers a limited numbers of backing color choices.

Backing color choicesTo save money on your T-shirt quilt, choose a company that has a limited number of backing material color choices on their order form to choose from.

How does this save money?

  • There is no need to inventory, purchased, stored and maintained multiple color fabrics. 
  • Since only a few colors are needed, a company can purchase fabric in huge quantities. This lowers the cost per yard of fabric.
  • A company does not have to find a matching color to customer’s color sample or request thus saving time or the need to order fabric in a unique color.

How does this effect your quilt?  

  • You will have a limited choice of backing color to choose from.
  • The backing color you chose might not be the color you think it was. For instance, one company calls a color crimson (a dark read) and in reality the color was fuchsia (a dark pinkish red). If you purchased a quilt for your son from this company and had requested crimson for the back of his quilt, there would have been disappointment. He probably would never use his quilt with the fuchsia pink fabric.
  • Your quilt will look like every other quilt the company makes.

9. Choose a T-shirt quilt made with just one block size.

You can truly save money on a T-shirt quilt by choosing a T-shirt quilt style in which all the blocks in the quilt are the same size.

How does this save money?

  • Only one cutting template is needed to cut out the T-shirts. 
    If there is only one size block in a quilt, all the blocks will be cut with the same template. One template make cutting simple and fast. It also eliminates the need for a skilled employee, thus the cost savings.
  • There are no decisions to make about what size or shape template to use.
    You cut out a block with the one template. Then you put the block into a single stack. This saves time.
  • There is no math involved in figuring the quilt size. 
  • There is not a layout to figure out.
    Quilts made from one block size are laid out in columns and rows. That’s all you need to know. It’s very, very easy and does not require any time or thought. Thus, a quilt made this way will save you money.

How does this effect your quilt?

  • image cut offBecause there is only one size block, the graphics on your T-shirts will be cropped off if they are larger than the block size. If they are much smaller than the block size, there will be too much margin around the design.
  • The design might not be centered on the block.
  • Small designs on the arms of a T-shirt would not be used.
  • If you don’t have the right number of images for a particular quilt size, you would have to either go up to the next size quilt or remove T-shirts.

If you are looking for a cheap quilt, Too Cool T-shirt Quilts is not the right company for you because:

1.  We fix sewing error.
2. We only make quilts.
3. We do awesome quilting on each and every quilt. 
4. We quilt using 10 to 12 stitches per inch.
5. We do a full traditional style binding. 
6. We use high quality quilting cotton on the backs of our quilts. 
7. We always pre-wash all backing material.
8. We have over 250 backing color choices.
9. We make our quilts with many different block sizes puzzled together. 

 We only make the highest quality T-shirt quilts and will never settle for less.

To learn more about having a quilt made with your T-shirts, consider downloading our T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide. It has great information about having a quilt made from your T-shirts. 

T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide


An awesome T-shirt quilt

About 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.