How to Buy a T-shirt Quilt – Step-by-step
- Have Questions?
If you have never purchased a T-shirt quilt before, you might not know where to begin the process. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you purchase your first T-shirt quilt.
1. Gather and Analyze Your T-shirts
Begin by gathering up your T-shirts. Make sure that you have all of them.
Depending on your circumstances, you might need to check more than your dresser drawers. They might be stashed in your gym locker, your car and perhaps at your mom’s house. Wherever your T-shirts might be, you need to double check that you have all of them. There is no adding T-shirts to your quilt once it’s made.
Once you have all your T-shirts, you need to analyze what you have. Begin by asking yourself, “what story do I want to tell?” Then you want to make sure that each T-shirt you choose to go into your quilt support and is related to this story.
Weed through your T-shirts for what does not belong. A T-shirt might not belong because it is off topic. For example, including a basketball jersey in a baseball quilt. A T-shirt might not belong because of its color. If you are making a Harley-Davidson T-shirt quilt and all but one of your T-shirts are black that one color T-shirts probably needs to be eliminated. Read more about all black T-shirt quilts here.
Once you have gathered your T-shirts, count how many T-shirt you have. Count how many total T-shirts you have and how many total graphics you have. Why does this matter? We will get to that in a bit.
2. Set a Budget
This is what you want to spend. A T-shirt quilt or blanket costs range between $100 and $1500. This is a huge price range! The price of a quilt depends on some of the following factors:
- If you purchase a quilt or a blanket
A blanket is inexpensive and a quilt is more expensive. Read more about the difference between a quilt and a blanket here.
- Style – traditional, puzzle or other style
A traditional style of quilt looks a lot different than a puzzle style. The traditional style is less expensive. Read more about this below.
- Size – The larger the quilt or blanket, the more it will cost.
- Materials – quality vs. not quality.
Read more about the quality of materials used in a T-shirt quilt here.
At this point in your process, it is difficult to know how much you need to budget. But if you only have $100 to spend, you should understand that you will most likely be purchasing a small blanket in a traditional style. It also probably will be poorly made with low quality materials.
If you have $1500 to spend, you will be able to get what ever you want! Keep your budget in mind as you choose what you want your quilt to look and feel like. At this point, your budget is a starting point and will help you determine what you can or will want to afford.
3. Type and Style Decisions
There are two decisions that you need to make at this point in the process. Do you want a quilt or a blanket? And do you want a traditional style or a quilt with a more contemporary design.
Quilt or Blanket?
There is a difference between the two!
A blanket is an inexpensive product. There are only two layers to a blanket. And they are not held together with any type of stitching. The photo here shows a blanket. You can see that the back and front are not attached.
A quilt is a more expensive product. It has three layers that are held together by quilting. In the second photo here you see what quilting looks like from the back of a quilt..
These differences can be seen and felt. Please take the time to read and understand the difference. They will affect your quilt. Read more about the difference between a quilt and a blanket here. Or see our video.
There are 6 typical styles of T-shirt quilts. Here’s an article that explains the difference between all 6 styles.
The two main styles are the traditional and the puzzle/Too Cool style.
- The traditional style uses a single size block. This means that no matter what size a graphic is on your T-shirt, it will be cut the same size as all your other T-shirts. This will mean that some of the graphics on your T-shirts will be cropped off to fit the one block size. It’s the one-size fits “all” approach.
These uniform sized blocks are then lined-up in rows and columns. The design graphic here represents what a traditional style quilt looks like.
- The puzzle style can use over 10 different sizes of blocks. Which size is chosen is based on the design on your T-shirts. This means none of your graphics will be cropped off.
These blocks are then puzzled together to make an interesting quilt. In the design graphic here you can see the different size blocks that are puzzled together.
A traditional style T-shirt quilt top will take a 10th of the time to make compared to a puzzle style. A traditional style is just that simple.
You need to know which style is right for your T-shirts, you taste and your budget.
In the photo here, the quilt on the left is a traditional style T-shirt blanket. The quilt on the right is a puzzle or Too Cool style T-shirt quilt.
4. Revisit your budget
Now that you know if you want a quilt or a blanket and what style of quilt, you can then reevaluate your budget.
If you want a quilt and not a blanket, you know that you will need to budget more. And if you want puzzle style quilt, you also know that you will need a larger budget.
If you want the good stuff and your budget does not allow it, I would suggest postponing your purchase of a T-shirt quilt until you can get what you want. If you settle for a cheaper quilt, you will most likely be disappointed.
5. Research Quilt Makers
Now that you know your budget, quilt style and if you want a quilt or blanket, it’s time to begin your research in earnest.
Begin with a Google Image Search
Type in what you are looking for. For example if you want a puzzle style quilt, you can type in Puzzle style (or Too Cool style) T-shirt quilts. Then examine the results. Look for quilts that you like. You will see a lot of Pinterest entries in this stage of the search.
Now Avoid Pinterest
When you want to narrow down the search, avoid going out to Pinterest. Pinterest can suck you in and never let you out! Rather look for listings that will take you to T-shirt quilt makers websites.
When you get to a quilt maker’s page, head out to their pricing page. First, is this within your budget? Second, is the price listed for the quilt style you want? Many quilt makers make more than one style of quilt. Make sure what you are looking at is the style you want.
A Note About Etsy
You will find T-shirt quilt makers on Etsy. But you have to read the fine print! They will list the price of a quilt at $150 to get you sucked in. But that is usually just the deposit! You need to read further or find their website to get the true cost of their quilts.
As you find quilt makers you might like to work with, bookmark their page. If you keep landing on the same quilt maker over and over, this is a big hint that you like their work. Perhaps this is the quilt maker you should choose.
6. Choose a Quilt Maker
Once you have the field of quilt makers narrowed down, you have to choose one. There are many ways to do this. You could goes with the lowest cost maker or you could base your decision on reviews.
But typically you subconsciously know which one you want. Don’t over think the decision. Just pick the one you instinctually want. You make better decisions if you don’t over analyze and struggle with the choice. Just choose.
7. Focus on your quilt maker’s directions.
Once you have chosen your quilt maker, delete all the other bookmarks for any others you might have saved. This is important. You don’t want to confuse one quilt maker for another.
Next, spend time reading your chosen quilt maker’s website. A quality quilter will have more information on their website than you might need. Read about their process, pricing, timing and most importantly their directions for getting your T-shirts ready for a quilt.
Every quilt maker has different directions on how they want you to prepare your T-shirts. Read exactly how you need to mark and prepare your T-shirts specifically Too Cool T-shirt Quilts here.
There is a direct correlation between this and confusion. When we receive T-shirts that were marked following someone else’s direction, we are don’t know what you want. This is where mistakes can be made.
8. Send your T-shirts to the quilt maker.
You are getting close now!
Here are some tips about shipping your T-shirts.
- Include your name, address, phone number and email address in your box.
- Make sure your box is packed correctly. Read more about packing up your T-shirts here.
- Get a tracking number.
- Be aware of how your quilt maker will contact you when they receive your box.
If you don’t hear from your quilt maker within 24 to 48 hours of them receiving your box, give them a call. Don’t sit and wonder and worry.
Be available to answer questions and give okay’s to your quilt maker. Most quilt maker’s delivery clocks don’t begin until you give them the final ok.
How long should it take to get your quilt back? Industry standard timing is 4 to 8 weeks. If it is going to be longer than 8 weeks, your quilt maker should be getting with you to explain the delay.
Do remember that around Christmas and in the spring for graduation, most quilt maker’s turn around time will be closer to 8 weeks rather than 4 weeks. Be sure to put this in your timing calculations.
9. Get Your Quilt Back and Enjoy
We hope this step-by-step list helps you find the quilt maker who will make you a quilt you will love. The more information you have, the better customer you will be. And the easier it will be to have your quilt made exactly how you want it made.
No matter who makes your quilt, we hope you love it.