Andrea Funk

By: Andrea Funk on April 24th, 2017

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Design Elements of a T-shirt Quilt

Finding a T-shirt Quilt Maker

There are so many quilters making T-shirt Quilts, how do you find the right one to transform your T-shirts into an incredible quilt? One measure is how well the quilt is designed and laid out.

If you are not an artist, you might not know the difference between a well-designed T-shirt quilt and one that is not so well designed.  Here are three design elements to look for when judging the design of a T-shirt quilt:

No Rows or Columns

compare.jpgA T-shirt quilt needs to be interesting to keep you engaged and looking at it. If the quilt is boring, it’s only worth is just to keep you warm. If the T-shirt blocks are lined up in rows and/or columns, the quilt is uninteresting. You pick up on the predictable pattern and your brain says, “I know that pattern, what’s next?” 

The quilt on the right is laid out using a puzzled method. There are no rows and no columns. Your brain does not know the pattern and has to spend more time to figure it out. Read more about this here. 

The quilt on the left, is laid out in rows and columns. There is not much to keep your attention.

Colors are balanced throughout the quilt.

Unless all the T-shirts in the quilt are the same color, the different blocks of color will need to be balanced throughout the quilt. This takes a good eye and experience. One way to check for this balance is to squint at a photo of the quilt. An unbalanced quilt will have blobs of color.

The quilt on the right is balanced and the quilt on the left is unbalanced. There is a blob of dark running down the right side of that quilt. 

That said, some groupings of T-shirts are more successfully balanced than others.  Look at a number of quilts by one maker to determine the overall success of their ability to balance colors.

Discover more about having a quilt made with your T-shirts. Consider downloading our T-shirt Quilt Buyers Guide.
It's will help you know what you want your quilt to look like and what to look for in a quilt maker. 

T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide

Tracking off of quilt.jpegGraphics lead your eyes back on the quilt.

The movement or action of the graphic from your T-shirts should be placed directionally. This means that designs where the subject is looking left or the action is moving to the left need to be on the right side of the quilt and vice versa for those looking right. This is because your eyes tend to follow the action of the design. An image can influence where your eyes look.

The key is to keep your eyes tracking onto the quilt and not off.  You want your quilt so that the action or movement on the blocks direct your eyes onto the quilt. It’s subtle, but it’s important.

Although the quilt here is very nice, it is an example of the direction of the action on the blocks leading your eyes off the quilt.

Every T-shirt needs to be studied to see what direction the image directs the eye and place accordingly. Even letters and numbers direct your eyes.

There’s more to T-shirt quilt design than you might envision. 


What do you want your quilt to look like?

Here are some steps you can take to help you figure out what you want your quilt to look like.

  1. google_search.jpgStart general. Begin looking at the different styles of T-shirt quilts. Look at photos on the internet. Do a Google image search for T-shirt Quilts, Traditional style T-shirt quilts, variable style T-shirts quilts, puzzle style T-shirt quilts, Too Cool Style T-shirt quilts and the like.

  2. After you have looked at a lot of styles, choose a style you like.
  3. Then look within that style for individual quilts that you like. Again, look at photographs on the internet.

  4. When you see a quilt that you love, click on it and visit that website. Visit a number of websites.

  5. On these sites, look at the quilter’s work in totality. Is all the quilters work great, or was that quilt you like the only shining star of the bunch? Look at the quilters body of work for balance and block placement.

So how a quilt looks is just the first step. The next step will be to figure out if the quilter you are looking at makes quality work. It’s like food, if it looks great but tastes like crap, it’s not good. You want a good- looking quilt that tastes great. The taste in quilting is the quality of the materials used in the making of a quilt. 

Learn more about how to judge a quilt by a photograph here. 

To learn more about having a quilt made with your T-shirts, consider downloading our T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide.
It’s a great place to learn about having a quilt made from your T-shirts.

T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide


Well designed quilt.jpeg


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. 


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