What's the difference between a Too Cool T-shirt Quilt and a Project Repat blanket? Everything!
Too Cool T-shirt Quilts make quilts in a puzzle style. They are a very high quality heirloom quality quilt.
Project Repat makes blankets in a traditional style. They are a low quality mass produced product.
Since 1992, I have talked to a lot of people about T-shirt quilts. At different events at which I display my quilts, a lot of people have said that they had purchased their quilt from Campus Quilts or Project Repat and were delighted with the quilts or blanket that they received. Which is awesome.
Many even said that they quilt they purchased looked just like my quilts. This always surprised me. From what I see on their websites, their quilts are very different from a Too Cool T-shirt Quilt.
I always wished I had a quilt or blanket from each company so I could compare the products head to head. Instead of wishing, I decided to actually have those companies make a T-shirt quilt or blanket for me.
To make the comparison fair, I purchased three groups of identical T-shirts. I visited over 20 Goodwill stores searching for groups of three identical T-shirts. Finally, I had three identical groups of 15 T-shirts.
Next, we ordered a quilt from Campus Quilts and a blanket from Project Repat.
We chose Campus Quilts because they are one of the largest makers of T-shirt quilts.
Both companies make 1000’s of T-shirt quilts/blankets a year. We also made a quilt with those same T-shirts.
Here is a topic-by-topic comparison of the three companies quilt/blanket. Each topic is broken down to compare how each company handles each item. It’s important to know about each and how it will affect the look, feel and life of your T-shirt quilt/blanket. You can link to the topic you would like to read about below.
Below is a video that compares the Project Repat blanket with a Too Cool T-shirt quilt.
Being human, I also have some editorial statements within this information. I have put my opinions in italics.
I hope this information helps you to find the best T-shirt quilt or blanket maker for your needs.
We collected 3 groups of 15 identical T-shirts. I chose T-shirts that would represent many different types of T-shirts that you might have. This included T-shirts with very large and very small designs. I also had T-shirts with graphics on the front, back and sleeves. We also included a sweatshirt, a very thin T-shirt and a child size T-shirt.
The 15 T-shirts had a total of 20 graphics. Two of the graphics were on sleeves. Below is a chart showing how each company used the number of T-shirts supplied. Neither Campus Quilts nor Project Repat used the graphics that were on the sleeve nor were the graphics returned with the quilt. Below is a breakdown:
Number of Images Used
Campus Quilts and Project Repat have a set number of T-shirts for a particular size quilt. You multiply the number of block across by the number of blocks down to get the number of T-shirt graphics that can be used in that size quilt. On the other hand, a Too Cool T-shirt Quilt can use any number of graphics. If those T-shirts make a quilt smaller than the size you were looking for, you can increase the quilt size in increments of four inches at a time without having to go up to the next major size quilt.
Ease of Having an Odd Number of T-shirts Graphics
The T-shirts you choose to put into your T-shirt quilt tell a story. If your T-shirts have more graphics than you can use in a particular size quilt or blanket at Campus Quilts or Project Repat, you will either have to go up to the next size quilt or choose to leave some images out of the quilt. This means you are leaving part of the story out of your quilt. With a Too Cool T-shirt Quilt, you don’t have to leave anything out. Your quilt will tell your entire story.
The Project Repat blanket size we purchased was described as a twin-size blanket. The blanket we received was not a twin size – it was more of a lap size. This has two implications for you:
If you purchased a blanket based on the name and then tried to use it on a bed of that size, you might not have a large enough blanket.
If you had compared quilt prices and saw that a twin-size quilt at Project Repat was one price and another company’s twin size was more expensive, you would not be comparing apples to apples.
We suggest that you don’t rely on the name a company calls their quilt or blanket, but rather on the numerical size. If you want a twin-size quilt or blanket, measure a blanket that you have that works on your bed. Then compare sizes rather than quilt names.
Block Size Used/Images Cut
Not all T-shirts have the same size graphics. The photo here shows there can be large and small logos on the same T-shirt.
Using the same size block for all your T-shirts will cause the graphics on the T-shirt to be cut one of three ways:
Be cropped off
Be stranded in the upper right hand corner of a block with too much margin.
I think that all T-shirts should fit the quilt block size perfectly. If the image on my T-shirt were cut off I would not be happy at all.
Campus Quilts used a 14" block so fewer of their larger blocks be cropped off. However, they still did crop off 25% of the blocks in the quilt we had made. The larger the block size, the fewer issues you will have with larger graphics being cropped off. But the flip side is that the “stranded graphics” are amplified because the large block will mean that more space is left around small designs.
Project Repat uses a 12" block size. This means that more graphics were cropped off. In our blanket, 55% of the graphics were cropped. The smaller block size means that even more of the images were cropped off than Campus Quilts who used a larger block size. Conversely, the smaller block size meant that small images, although still left stranded, did not look quite as bad.
Below from left to right or top to bottom - The actual T-shirt, how Project Repat used it, how Too Cool T-shirt Quilts used it.
Too Cool T-shirt Quilts uses over 20 different blocks sizes, with infinite possibilities for odd sized T-shirt logos . This means that none of the graphics on a T-shirt will be cropped and none are left stranded. We can cut any clothing item so the graphic is complete. So, you can use any graphic that is on a sleeve. This would not be possible with a T-shirt quilt that just uses one size quilt block.
Discover more about having a quilt made with your T-shirts or other clothing items. Our Learning center is the perfect place to start to learning more about T-shirt quilts.
The backing is the fabric that goes on the back of your quilt or blanket. Below are the offerings of each company.
Backing Color Choices
The fewer backing color choices a company offers you, the more they are able to keep their cost down. They might not offer you the backing color that you would like.
Was the Backing Fabric Prewashed?
This is very important. Most fabrics will shrink when they are washed. If fabric is used in a quilt before it is washed, you will have issues when you wash your quilt. Typically, the fabric will still shrink.
However, the rest of the quilt will not shrink, this results in a lumpy quilt. The material that does not shrink has to go someplace. Since it can’t lay flat anymore because the backing material is too small, the material goes up and thus your quilt is lumpy.
The other reason why it is very important to prewash backing materials is that the color dyes in the material might bleed. Think a red sock in a load of whites that turns everything pink. Most of the time after it is washed, the excess dye is washed out and the backing material will no longer bleed.
At Too Cool T-shirt Quilts we make sure that the backing material’s color is set and that it won’t bleed, before we use it in a quilt.
Project Repat uses polar fleece on the backs of their blankets. Since we don’t use polar fleece on a daily basis, we don’t have the expertise to judge the quality of polar fleece they used. But it was thinner than the polar fleece of the Columbia zip up sweatshirts I like to wear.
The fabric that Campus Quilts used on the back of their quilt was very low quality. First, it has a scratchy feeling. Second, you could feel the poor quality of the fabric. It just felt cheap.
At Too Cool T-shirt Quilts we use 100% high quality fabric. This does cost much more than the cheap stuff. The price difference per yard could be $5 to $10 a yard. That’s a lot considering quilts use between 4 and 9 yards of fabric.
Backing Color Issues with the Quilts?
We did have issues with the backing color of the Campus Quilts quilt. We had chosen crimson. Crimson is a dark deep red color, like the University of Alabama.
When we got the quilt back, the fabric’s color was actually fuchsia pink. We had ordered the crimson for a guy. And when it came back in the pink family, the guys here at Too Cool T-shirt Quilts said that they would not be caught dead with a quilt with that backing color.
On the Project Repat blanket, we ordered purple polar fleece. But, there was not any purple in our blanket - at all. If this request had come to us, we would have talked with the customer about the backing color. We would have talked to the customer about cohesive color theory and how that the color might be wrong for the T-shirts. We may suggested some alternative color choices to tie the whole quilt together. If the customer still wanted purple, we of course respect that choice, but we would have done our due diligence. Project Repat did not take the time.
Although you don’t see the batting in a quilt, the batting used is very important. The type and quality directly relates to the longevity of a quilt. Read more about batting here.
Batting Type, Quality & Durability
Project Repat only makes blankets. Therefore, they do not use any batting.
One of the things I was most surprised about with the Campus quilt was the batting. They are using one of the cheapest battings on the market. The loft is very high, meaning that the quilt is very thick, and the batting is 100% polyester. This batting will lump up after the first wash.
Also, the polyester fibers pop through the backing material giving it a slightly hairy look. This is called bearding. This means that the batting fibers are falling apart and traveling through to the backing of your quilt. We could already see this on the back of the brand-new Campus Quilt.
Too Cool T-shirt Quilts uses a batting made by Hobbs Bonded Fibers of Waco Texas. The batting is 80% cotton and 20% polyester. What makes this batting special is that it is needled punched. This means that the batting is run though a roller covered with hot needles. As the needle goes into the batting it melts the polyester fibers. As the needle exits the batting, the hot polyester is pulled up through the cotton fibers and thereby bonds the cotton fibers together. This makes for a very stable cotton batting that is difficult to tear, that does not bunch up and lasts for a lifetime.
Loft or Batting Thickness
You might tend to equate batting thickness to warmth. You might assume a thick batting is warmer than a thin batting. But this is not true. Batting technology has made it so that a thinner cotton batting can be as warm or warmer than a thick polyester batting.
We are not sure why Campus Quilts uses such a thick cheap batting, but it will affect your quilt. The batting thickness means that your quilt cannot be folded and stored as well as a quilt with thinner batting. The thick batting will also bunch up after it is washed. Skilled quilter would not choose such a batting for their quilt. They know that they are asking for trouble if they do.
My guess is that it comes down to money. The batting they are using is about the least expensive batting on the market. The less they spend in making a quilt, the higher their profit margin.
Your T-shirt quilt should be used and enjoyed. This means that it will get dirty and need to be cleaned. Below are the washing directions for each company.
When we opened the box from Campus Quilts, I was dumbfounded when the first thing I read was, “Dry Clean Only.” Are you kidding me?!? Who dry-cleans a T-shirt quilt? But after looking at and feeling the quilt, we were easily able to determine why the dry-cleaning directions.
The big reason: Campus Quilts does not prewash their backing material. If they tell you that you must dry-clean your quilt and you wash your quilt in a washing machine, they are not liable for what happens to your quilt.
This is what will happen:
The backing material will shrink.The result is that the backing material is now smaller than the quilt top and batting. When the backing material lays flat, the quilt top and batting can no longer lay flat and will bunch up.
The backing material will bleed. When the backing material bleeds, the dye will show up on the front of your T-shirts.
So, how do we know this?
The same day we received our quilt from Campus Quilts, a new customer had sent us her Campus Quilts quilt to be torn apart and have the T-shirt blocks remade into a Too Cool T-shirt Quilt. She was not happy with their work. Read more about having a T-shirt quilt remade here.
So, we were able to dissect a Campus Quilt. We took one section of the quilt our customer did not want and sewed the raw edges of that sections closed and then we washed it. That’s how we know.
The quilting on a quilt holds together the front, the batting and the backing. If the three layers are not held together, the batting will bunch up and be lumpy.
Project Repat makes blankets thus there is no quilting. But do note that there is nothing holding the T-shirt material face to the fleece backing material. This means reduced longevity of the blanket.
Both Campus Quilts and Too Cool T-shirt Quilts long-arm quilt their quilts. But the quilting on the two quilts could not be more different. I will go into the differences below.
In this photo - Campus Quilts is left and Too Cool T-shirt Quilts is right.
Campus Quilts offers two choices – loops or a meandering pattern. The quilt in the photo above has the loops.The quilting is spaced very far apart. There were only 5 rows of quilting on our quilt. This left large areas not quilted. This will lead to the batting coming apart and bunching up. I had expected more quilting than that. The quilting also started and stopped an inch from the edge of the quilt. It looked like it was just stuck there without thought.
Each block in a Too Cool T-shirt Quilt is quilted with its own unique pattern by an experienced artist. The quilting is close, leaving only small areas on the quilt without quilting. And our quilting is cool!
The standard for stitches per inch ranges between 10 and 12 stitches per inch.
Campus Quilt’s stitch length is 5 ½ stitches per inch. This means that the stitches are very long. I did a test on my standard sewing machine by setting the stitch length to “basting.” A "basting stitch" is a stitch that is put in to hold something until more stitches can be added. It’s meant to be temporary and removable. My basting stitch was 5 ½ stitches per inch. Thus, Campus Quilts is quilting with a basting stitch.
Why? Because it is faster. You can stitch 5 ½ stitches in half the amount of time that it takes to put in 11 stitches. By speeding up the process, they can earn more per quilt. The results you might expect are bunched up batting and stitches that can easily come out.
Too Cool T-shirt Quilts uses 11 to 12 stitches per inch. We have more stitching on one block than Campus Quilts has in their entire quilt.
Campus Quilts matches their thread color to their backing material. When a quilter matches thread color with the backing material they do it to hide or play down the quilting. And since Campus Quilts does not emphasize their quilting, this makes sense.
The problem with matching the quilting thread to the backing color is that if a dark backing color is used, the stitching will be too dark on the front of the quilt.
Too Cool T-shirt Quilts uses thread that works with the T-shirts on our quilts. We tend to avoid the darkest colors. The first reason we do this is how dark thread looks on the T-shirts – it tends to look awful. We made one quilt using navy blue thread and were appalled at how it looked. It was just awful.
The advantage to using a lighter-colored thread is that the contrast between the backing material color and the thread emphasizes the quilting. Because of the contrast and unique quilting the back of our quilts are just as cool as the front!
When we tore apart that Campus Quilt for our customer, we immediately knew that the thread they used was rayon. The thread just frayed and fell apart. The advantage of rayon is that it is soft and inexpensive. The disadvantage is that it is often not colorfast. Nor is it as strong or durable as polyester and cotton threads.
Too Cool T-shirt Quilts uses cotton or cotton-wrapped polyester threads. These threads are durable, strong and colorfast and yes, more expensive.
Quilting is the key component in what makes a quilt a quilt. It's what attaches the three layers together. We want to make sure your quilt will last forever, but that it's also dynamic and interesting to look at. When taking all of that into account, why wouldn't you want the back of your T-shirt quilt to be interesting and as individual as the front of your quilt?
The quilting on Too Cool T-shirt quilts stands the test of time, we have quilts that are over 30 years old and still going strong. I wouldn't trust the quilting on a Campus Quilt's quilt to last a lifetime, its just not designed to.
The binding finished off the raw edges of a quilt.
Project Repat makes blankets not quilts, so their blankets do not have a binding.
Campus Quilts uses a “half binding style” binding on their quilts. They pull the backing material around to the front of the quilt and sew it down. This is a cheap, fast and easy way of finishing off the raw edges of their quilts.
Too Cool T-Shirt Quilts does what is called a full binding. This method involves a separate piece of material being used to finish the raw edges of your quilt. The advantage of this method is that it offers you another design feature as well as improves the longevity of your quilt.
In the photo, the Too Cool T-shirt quilt is on the left and the Campus Quilt is on the right. Here you can see what each binding type looks like on the front and the back of the quilt.
The information here is a review and recap of each quilt/blanket made by each company. You can compare each item for yourself. The pricing may change from year to year.
The more information you have, the better choices you can make. T-shirt quilts are important to me and I want to share with you the knowledge I have gained since 1992. I have tried my best to provide you with just the facts and information from the quilting and sewing craft industries. I hope this helps in your decision making about T-shirt quilts and various makers.
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.