Andrea Funk

By: Andrea Funk on January 14th, 2016

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How to Add Color to a T-shirt Quilt Made With Just Black T-shirts

All_black_HD_Quilt"I Don’t Want an All Black T-shirt Quilt" 

Normally if all the T-shirts going into a quilt are black, we would make an all black quilt. These quilts look great because you stop seeing the background and only see the text and graphics of the T-shirts. It’s comparable to reading text on a white piece of paper. The background, in this case the white of the paper, visually goes away and you only see and read the text.

Sometimes An All Black Quilt is Not Wanted.

Customer: “All my daughter’s T-shirts are black, but I don’t want an all black quilt.” 

Too Cool: “Why don’t you want an all black quilt?”

Customer: “It’s just not my daughter. She is still in school and wants more color in her life.

 Too Cool: “So then why are all her T-shirts black?”

Customer: “These T-shirts are from my daughter’s involvement with a theatre company. To save money, the theatre only wanted to print one T-shirt per production. So they printed them on black so the stagehands could wear the T-shirt and not be seen as they moved around the props on stage during productions. Thus, all the T-shirts from each show are black.”

What Are the Options?

We had to find a way to brighten up a quilt that would be made with only black T-shirts. We have a number of tools available to work with.

Harley Davidson all back T-shirt quilt with colorful border
  • Border
    The simplest way to brighten up an all black quilt would be to add a border around the outside. [Photo of black with royal borders] Any type of bright border could be added to brighten up the quilt. [Link to border page] The problem with a border is that it does not address the inner field of T-shirts. They would remain solid black.

  • Blank Blocks
    This is how you would add color into the main field of T-shirts.  The trick with this method is finding the right balance of small blocks with the larger black blocks. Trying to add enough colored blocks without them being bunched up in one area or spread out too thin. 

  • Combination of a Border and Blank Blocks
    This method would ensure that the inner field of T-shirts are brightened up and could be coordinated with a border. This would be a fun solution.


Adding blank blocks is priced no different than a regular T-shirt quilt. But adding blank blocks would make the quilt larger, and thus more expensive.  Adding a border would make the quilt more expensive and larger. And adding both blank blocks and a border would increase the size of the quilt and would be charged at a higher rate because of the border.

This Quilt

Theatre T-shirt quilt made colorfulWe wanted to make this group of all black T-shirts more colorful but we had budget constraints. Those constraints eliminated the option of adding a border to the quilt. So we had to come up with a solution that only included blank blocks of colored material.

Blocks of yellow, red and white were used to add bursts of color throughout the quilt. We chose those particular colors because most of the T-shirts were printed with those colors. It would not have been as cohesive if we had included blues or greens.

Once we knew we wanted to add 3 different block colors we needed to lay the quilt out. This meant making over 20 designs before we settled on this one.  Some designs involved larger blocks of colors and others only used small blocks of color. We chose this design because it includes both large and small color blocks.

This quilt was also bound in yellow to give it more color and because they like yellow.

Another Example

Eclipse_300.jpegThe quilt on the right,  we only had 7 black T-shirts blocks to work with. The customers also wanted a quilt larger than what the blocks would allow. So we added a dark purple and black checker board backdrop into the mix with the T-shirts blocks. The purple added a richness and zing to otherwise all black quilt. 

What could we do with your T-shirts?

To learn more about having a quilt made from your T-shirts, consider downloading our T-shirt Quilt Buyer’s Guide. It’s a great place be begin learning about having a quilt made from T-shirts.

T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide  



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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