Andrea Funk

By: Andrea Funk on June 15th, 2020

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How many T-shirts Can I Use in a T-shirt Quilt?

Planning a T-shirt Quilt

How many T-shirt you will need for a quilt will depend on the style of quilt you have made. Below is how to figure out "how many" for a number of different T-shirt quilt styles.

Click below on the quilt style you are interested in reading about. Click here to learn more about different styles of T-shirt quilts.

The Too Cool Style or Puzzle Style T-shirt Quilt
Traditional Style T-shirt Quilts 
Traditional Style with Sashing T-shirt Quilt  

The Too Cool Style or Puzzle Style T-shirt Quilt

Too Cool style T-shirt quilt with many different size blocksThis style of quilt is made up of many different sizes and shapes of T-shirt blocks that are puzzled together.  Each graphic on your shirt will be cut with a block that fits the graphic size.  The result is a T-shirt quilt without blocks that have been cropped off or blocks that have too much space around the graphic.

The difficulty with this style of T-shirt quilt is that you will not be able to know exactly how large your quilt will be before all your T-shirts are cut.

Why can’t you know exactly how many T-shirts I need to make a particular size T-shirt quilt?

Because all T-shirts are not created equal! T-shirts have different sizes and different numbers of designs on them.  Some T-shirts have huge designs on the front and back of the shirt while others just have a small breast logo.

A T-shirt with large designs on the front and back might have over 800 square inches of graphics to work with. Whereas, a T-shirt with just a small front logo will only have 16 square inches to work with.  If one T-shirt can net 800 square inches of graphics and another just 16 square inches, and you say you have 5 T-shirts, you could have enough to make either a large lap size quilt or a potholder!

When we are finished cutting any group of T-shirts we might have anywhere from 10 to 120 blocks to work with. And a grouping of blocks might have 5 to 25 different shapes and sizes of blocks. Each quilt we make is different from any other quilt.

Since I began making T-shirts quilts in 1992, each quilt I made has had a different layout. Each layout is specific to one group of T-shirts. So, if you tell us you have 20 T-shirts and want to know how large of a quilt they will make, I won’t be able to tell you. 


How many T-shirt for a quilt by Too Cool T-shirt QuiltWe do have some guidelines that can give you a starting place. When you look at the estimated number of T-shirts in the chart here, you need to consider your T-shirts. 

Don’t count the fronts and backs of your T-shirts, but look at them as a whole. Do you have mostly T-shirts with large designs on the fronts and back? Then you will need fewer T-shirts. But if you have mostly one-sided T-shirts with just breast logos, then you will need more.

How It works

Generally, we take the number of T-shirts you send and cut them. Then we determine what size quilt those T-shirts could make. We will e-mail you and tell you the dimensions of the quilt that these T-shirts can make. At that time, you can accept the dimensions of the quilt or you can add or remove T-shirts so the quilt is the size you would like. We will work with you to get your quilt to an acceptable size with the blocks you want. 

Note: we can make your quilt whatever size your T-shirts will allow. You can have a quilt that is between standard sizes. For example, between a twin and a full size. Whatever size your quilt is, the size will be divisible by four. 

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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

Traditional Style T-shirt Quilts

traditional style T-shirt quilt laid out in rows and columns.A traditional style T-shirt quilt is made with one block size. It is laid out in rows and columns.

This is the easiest style of quilts to figure out how many T-shirts you will need. You just need one piece of information: what size block will be used. Quilters typically will use 12” to 16” square blocks.  One graphic will go onto each block. A T-shirt with a front and a back can make 2 blocks.

To figure the size of quilt, first figure out how wide you want your quilt to be. For example, if you use a 12” block, your quilt can be any width that is divisible by 12. So, you can use 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84, 96 or 108 inches wide.

Next decide how long you want your quilt. In this example, again, you can use 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84, 96, 108 or 120 inches long.

If you want your quilt to be 60” wide x 84” long, you would divide the width and length by 12. 60/12 = 5.  84/12 = 7. This means that your quilt will be 5 blocks wide by 7 blocks long.

To figure out the numbers of blocks you need, multiply 5 x 7 = 35 blocks.

If you have less than 35 blocks, you will need to either come up with more blocks or you will need to put a blank block in the quilt.

If you have more than 35 blocks, you will need to go up to the next quilt size – say 72 x 84 and then have to come up with 42 blocks (6 x 7). Or you can choose to eliminate any T-shirt blocks that won’t fit in. 

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More About: Planning Your T-shirt Quilt

Traditional Style with Sashing T-shirt Quilt

Traditional Style T-shirt quilt with sashing.A traditional style T-shirt quilt with sashing is just like traditional style, but will have sashing placed between the rows and columns.

This means that you need to add into the size of your quilt, the width of the sashing between the blocks. You also need to know if there is sashing around the outside of the quilt, and if so, will it be the same size as the sashing between the blocks or wider.

For a quilt that is made with 4 - 12” blocks across with 2” of sashing between the blocks and 4” of sashing around the outside, you need to do the follow math problem… 

4 + 12 + 2 + 12 + 2 + 12 + 2 + 12 + 4 = 62” wide. You would do the same for the length of your quilt.

A T-shirt quilt with sashing will use fewer T-shirts than a traditional T-shirt quilt without sashing. This is good if you don’t have a lot of T-shirts!

Advantages & disadvantages of traditional style T-shirt quilts.

The advantage is that you know exactly how many T-shirts your quilt will need.

The disadvantage is that all of the designs on your T-shirts are treated equally.  For example, if you have a design that is 20” x 16” and it is cut with a 14” block, part of the design will get cropped off. If you have a design that is 4” x 4”, this design will also be cut with a 14” block and will be left with too much margin around the design. 

Before you choose a traditional style T-shirt quilt, first consider your pile of T-shirts along with the block size a quilter uses. Measure your graphics to see what might get cut off. Decided if you can live with blocks being cropped off. If you can’t you need to choose a puzzle style quilt. 

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To learn more about having a T-shirt 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

A very cool T-shirt quilt made with football jerseys and T-shirts

 Back to: Planning Your 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. 


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