Andrea Funk

By: Andrea Funk on September 9th, 2019

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Here Are the 5 things That Can Make or Break Your T-shirt Quilt

Finding a T-shirt Quilt Maker

Do you have T-shirts you want made into a T-shirt quilt? Are you looking for a quilt that is more than a few steps above ho-hum? Below are five factors that go into making a T-shirt quilt that is so much better than ho-hum.

1. The T-shirts

pile of t-shirts ready for a quiltIt begins with awesome T-shirts. If the T-shirts are yours and tell your story, then you will love your quilt no matter what. But the T-shirt quilts that are the best of the best have a few things in common about their T-shirts:

Color 

Awesome quilts usually have one of the following color combinations:

A "Life is my life" T-shirt quiltThese types of combinations help to unify the look of the quilt. 

This doesn't mean that your quilt made with the T-shirt you have won't look great. We have ways we help balance out the colors of our quilts so they all look great.

Look at the colors of your T-shirts before you have your quilt made. Is there one T-shirt that stands out like a sore thumb? If so, how important is that T-shirt?

If that T-shirt is very important, then you should include it in your quilt. Just make sure you choose an experienced T-shirt quilt maker. If that T-shirt is not all that important, you might exclude it from your T-shirts.

Topic 

Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt quilt.

Some great quilts have a great topic that makes the quilt unique. For example, a quilt made from all Hard Rock Café T-shirts will have something special that will make it great. It's because the entire quilt is made from T-shirts from one brand name.

Quilts made from a unified topic are cohesive. This cohesiveness gives the quilt a unique feel that a "this is your life quilt" might not have.

Shirt Type 

T-shirts do come in different types. For example there are golf shirts, baseball shirts, T-shirts made from cotton, from tech fabric or polyester. The styles and fabric types will have an effect on your quilt. If one T-shirt is made from different fabric than the rest, this will look a little different. 

If you have a large variety of T-shirt types and fabric, then you would have a quilt with a lot of nice texture to feel.  

We have made a few quilts exclusively from Tech Fabric. These quilts were awesome because they have a silky soft texture. They are also very light weight as a result of the Tech Fabric. One cotton T-shirt in a quilt like this would have made the quilt feel and look a little off. 

We can use any type of cloth in your quilt. As you get your items together for a quilt, keep in mind how they look and feel together. 


Discover more about having a quilt made with your T-shirts. Consider downloading our T-shirt Quilt Buyers Guide.
It 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


2. The Quilt Style

June 2019 7There are 6 major styles of T-shirt quilts.

  • Traditional Block Style With Sashing
  • Traditional Block Style Without Sashing
  • Unequal Rows or Columns
  • The Too Cool Style AKA: Variable or Puzzle Styles
  • The Stained Glass Puzzle Style
  • Crazy Quilt Style

If you want a killer T-shirt quilt, you need to choose a style that will showcase your T-shirts. This means you want to make sure that none of the graphics are cropped off. You want to make sure that there isn't an excess of "white space" around a design.  Not all styles of T-shirt quilts can do this for you. 

You need to read about each style and choose which one is best for your T-shirts. And which one just feels the best for you.

Here's an article that explains the different style. It looks at the what, look, feel and issues with each style. If you don't know what the different styles are, please read this. Read more about the different styles of T-shirt quilts here.

3. The Layout

The layout of a T-shirt quilt is where a quilter maker places each block in the quilt. A bad layout will make a quilt less successful. An awesome T-shirt quilt has a great layout. 

The layout involves the following:

  • Balance of colors.
    Tracking off of quiltThe colors of T-shirts need to be balanced throughout the quilt. If there are big blobs of color, this will detract from the look of the quilt. To get a feel if the balance is attractive, step back and squint at the quilt or photo of the quilt. This is like letting you see the forest rather than individual trees. It's an overview. 

    What do you see? Are the colors balanced? You want to see the colors balanced throughout the quilt. You don't want to see blobs or sections that are more one color than another. 

    In the quilt here, there is a blob of blue. This could have been rearranged to eliminate the blob in the center.

  • Direction of action of the T-shirts.
    The movement or action of the graphics 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 will 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.

    In the quilt here, the yellow arrows shows the movement of the action of the graphics. You can see that many of the graphics lead your eye off the quilt. Simply by having put those blocks on the other side of the quilt would have solved this problem. The quilt would have been more successful.

4. The Materials Used

If you want an awesome T-shirt quilt, then choose a quilt maker that uses high quality materials. Quality materials mean that your quilt will last a lifetime. 

Fabrics for T-shirts quilts should be high quality.

Quilt makers have a huge array of fabrics, battings and threads to choose from. As you might suspect, they are not all created equal. To save money, some quilt makers will choose the least expensive materials they can get their hands on.

For example, a quilt needs 9 yards a fabric. If you choose material that cost $2 a yard, you will spend just $18 on fabric. On the other hand, if you go with the good stuff, you could pay $10 a yard. This means you would spend $90 on fabric. 

If you only charge $200 for a quilt, you would lose money if you went with the expensive material. Thus, the less expensive a quilt, the greater the possibility the quilt maker went with cheaper materials.  

What do you need to look for in the materials used in your quilt? 

  • Backing Fabric
    Look for high thread count 100% cotton backing material. Think about how you buy bed sheets here. 
  • Batting
    The batting should be 80% cotton/20% poly needle punched or 100% cotton. Avoid 100% polyester battings!
  • Thread
    Quality threads should also be used.

If you would like to learn more, you can read more about quality materials here.

5. The Workmanship

The best T-shirts, the best quilt style, the best design and quality materials are worthless if the person making the quilt has poor sewing and quilting skills. You need to find a quilt maker who is competent.   Here are things to look for in a quilt maker:

  • sewing handsHow long have they been in business?
  • How many T-shirt quilts have they made?
  • What type of T-shirt quilts are they making?
  • Are they using iron on backing?
  • What type of quilting are they doing on the T-shirt quilt?
  •  Is the quilt being sent out for quilting?
  •  How creative is the quilt maker?
  • What quality of materials are they using?
  •  Is the home or shop smoke free/pet free?
  • How long will it take to have your T-shirt quilt made?

To take a deep dive into each of these questions, click here.

Conclusion

If you want an awesome T-shirt quilt, you need to have great T-shirts, a style of T-shirt quilt that is well designed and laid out, and made with high quality materials by a skilled quilt maker. 


Discover more about having a quilt made with your T-shirts. Consider downloading our T-shirt Quilt Buyers Guide.
It 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


Stained glass 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.