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Andrea Funk

By: Andrea Funk on September 17th, 2018

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How to Avoid Sabotaging to Your T-shirt Quilt

The Construction of a T-shirt Quilt  |  Materials Used In T-shirt Quilts  |  Planning a T-shirt Quilt  |  Comparing T-shirt Quilts

Are you in search of a T-shirt quilt maker? If so, you have seen a lot of people and companies making quilts or blankets.  It might even seem overwhelming at times with all the choices you have. Don't just guess on a quilt maker. Take a more purposeful approach to find someone who is a good fit for you.  

Your first step is to not unintentionally sabotage your T-shirt quilt. Here are 7 choices you could make that might result in a T-shirt quilt that's not what you want.

1. Not Doing Any Research

sewing a quilt top takes experience and careful planning.Knowing what you want in your T-shirt quilt is important. There are many different styles of quilts and many different levels of quality of T-shirt quilts. All T-shirt quilts aren't created equal.

Research is so important. Don’t just give your T-shirts to someone without knowing what type of T-shirt quilt you will get back. 

Here’s a quick check list of what you need to know:

  •  A quilt or a blanket?
  • What style? Tradition, puzzle or something else
  • What level of craftsmanship do you want?
  • What type of materials?
  • What quality of material? 

Below are a number of other errors to avoid.

2. Choosing a Quilt Maker Based on Cost

A google search of T-shirt quilts shows a lot of different types of quilts and makers.Cost is a factor in determining who you have make your T-shirt quilt. But you have to realize that the cheaper a quilt costs, the lower the quality of materials and craftsmanship. Be wary of extremely low priced quilts – sometimes you get what you pay for! 

You will find T-shirt quilts or blankets starting at around $100 and going up to over $1200. It will depend on style, materials, craftsmanship, size and if it is a blanket or a quilt.

We suggest setting a budget and then double or tripling it. You can find small T-shirt blankets for under $100. But it might be a huge disappointment.

What about a free T-shirt quilt? For example, you may know someone who can make it for you. A few thoughts. First, unless it is your grandmother, mother or sister, you need to at least pay for materials.

Also, is this a person you would spend 25 hours doing something for without getting paid? If not, it’s not fair to ask someone to make you a quilt for free. It’s a little tacky. Here’s more about free T-shirt quilts.

Here is more about how much a T-shirt quilt costs.

To learn more about the different types, styles and qualities of T-shirts, download our T-shirt Quilt Buyer’s Guide. 
It’s a great place to begin your journey to finding a quilt maker.

T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide

3. Choosing the Wrong Style of Quilt

Compare a traditional with a puzzle style T-shirt quilt.If you have never seen a T-shirt quilt before or have only seen traditional style T-shirt quilts, you might not realize that you have style options. There are 5 general styles of quilts being made.

In the photo here, the two quilts are made from the same exact T-shirts. The blanket on the left is made in a traditional style without sashing. The quilt on the right is made in a puzzle (aka Too Cool style or variable style). The way each style uses T-shirts is very different.

A traditional style uses one size block. The blocks are lined up in rows and columns. It’s not very interesting.  

Look at your T-shirts. Do all your T-shirts have the same size design? If so, then a traditional style quilt might work. A big issue with a traditional style T-shirt quilt is that if a design is larger than the block size, the design will be cropped off.

If you are like most people, the logos and designs on your T-shirts come in all different sizes and shapes. If this is you, consider a puzzle style quilt that is made with different size and shaped blocks.

Read more about the 5 styles of T-shirt quilts here.

4. Having Your Quilt Made by an Inexperienced Quilter

How not to make a T-shirt quilt.Consider the scenario: Someone at work shows up having just made their first T-shirt quilt. You see the quilt and think, “I have T-shirts.” Should you ask your coworker to make a quilt for you? Well, beginners have to learn on somebody’s T-shirts. Are you volunteering yours?

There is a huge difference between someone making their second T-shirt quilt and someone making their 5,000th. There is a lot of learning going on between quilt 2 and quilt 5000. You need to decide if you can live with the errors on the learning curve.

Also consider if a quilt maker is a hobbyist or a professional. If a hobbyist screws up your T-shirts, they aren’t going to lose their livelihood or their reputation. Whereas a professional has a reputation to uphold.  This will be reflected in her work and how she handles problems.

The quilt here was made by someone who didn't have enough sewing skills and experience to make a quilt. We were able to remake this quilt into a Too Cool Style quilt. Read more about that here. 

5. Choosing a Quilter That Uses Iron on Backing or Interfacing

Iron-on interfacing can gum up an iron fast. And you didn't even need to use iron on backing!Interfacing is ironed on to the backs of T-shirts to make them stiff and easy to work with. Interfacing was used in the early days of T-shirt quilt making. At that time, sewing machine technology was poor. And quilters did not know how to sew stretchy T-shirt material to cotton sashing in the traditional style quilts they were making at that time. Read about the history of T-shirt quilts here.

Today, iron on backing is not necessary. The quilting industry thinks it is. It’s another product they can sell to quilters. But with modern sewing machines and other styles of T-shirt quilts, iron-on interfacing is a relic of another era.

We have been making T-shirt quilts since 1992 without iron on backing. If your quilter says that she has to use iron on backing, ask why. There is no answer except “it makes it easier for me.” Technically, it’s not necessary. Read more about iron on backing here. 

What does iron-on interfacing do to your T-shirts and quilt? It will make your T-shirt stiff and less flexible. The quilt would be heavier and not in a warm way. And it will make your T-shirts look flat in a lifeless way. They will be more paper like in appearance than T-shirt like.  

6. Choosing a Company Whose Quilts Are Dry-clean Only

T-shirt quilts should not have to be dry- cleaned. If a company says you have to dry clean your T-shirt quilt for “best results”, this should be a huge red flag! Ask about this before you send in your T-shirts!!!!!! Note: One of the largest T-shirt quilt company's quilts - you see their ads in the backs of magazines everywhere - are dry-clean only! Ask them why.

The reason you are being told to dry-clean your quilt is because the backing material has not prewashed.

The first time you wash a piece of fabric, excess dye is washed out. The sizing is always washed out which results in some shrinkage. Think about what would happen if a piece of fabric wasn’t washed before being used in a quilt? Well the first time you wash it, the excess dye would bleed and the fabric would shrink. Just imagine what your quilt would look like then!

You would be very disappointed if you wash that quilt in the washing machine. Here is more about why you would have to dry-clean a T-shirt quilt.

7. Choosing a Company That Makes Blankets but Calls Them Quilts

A T-shirt blanket is not a quilt. The front and the back are not connected. Let’s start at the beginning on this one. There is a huge difference between a T-shirt quilt and a T-shirt blanket. If you don’t know that there is a difference, you might get fooled. There is no agency overseeing the T-shirt quilt industry. The result is that there is no one policing companies that call a blanket a quilt.

You can be out on the Internet visiting a website and you see the companies’ T-shirt “quilts.” If you don’t know the difference, you might think that you are getting a quilt. When in reality you are getting a blanket.

There are a number of differences between a quilt and a blanket. Here are a few of them.

  1. The number of layers. A quilt has three layers – the quilt top, the batting and the backing fabric. A blanket is made up of 2 layers – the quilt top and the backing material – this is typically polar fleece.
  1. Binding. Blankets don’t have a binding. A quilt has either a half binding or the good ones, have a full binding. Read more about bindings here. 
  1. compare the back of a T-shirt blanket on the left with a T-shirt quilt on the right. The T-shirt quilt has quilting. The blanket does not.Quilting. Blankets are not quilted. There is nothing holding the front to the back of the blanket. A quilt is quilted so the 3 layers are connected. This helps hold the T-shirts shape. Read more about quilting here. 

    The in photo here, the purple is the back of a blanket. You see no stitching on the blanket. The layers are not connected. On the right, you see the quilting on the back of the quilt. Big difference. The previous photo is the same blanket that is in this photo.

If you are looking for a T-shirt quilt, be sure to avoid those companies only making blankets. Here is more about the difference between blankets and quilts.

We encourage you to learn everything you can about T-shirt quilts and having a T-shirt quilt made before you contract with someone to make your quilt. If during your research, you run across any questions that we might be able to answer for you, please just e-mail or call us. 

We know how important your T-shirts are. It’s important to us that you have your T-shirts made into the T-shirt quilt that you are dreaming of.

To learn more about the different types, styles and qualities of T-shirts, download our T-shirt Quilt Buyer’s Guide. 
It’s a great place to begin your journey to finding a quilt maker.

T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide

colorful fun summer feel to this T-shirt quilt. Georgia Bulldogs 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.