Andrea Funk

By: Andrea Funk on September 10th, 2018

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How to First Plan and Then Collect T-shirt for a Quilt

Planning a T-shirt Quilt  |  Comparing T-shirt Quilts

Too Cool T-shirt Quilts set up at a show with our quilts.I love being out and about showing people my T-shirt quilts. I almostI always end up talking to people who don’t have any T-shirts.

What? No T-shirts?

Is that you? Ok, so you have no T-shirts but you love the idea of a T-shirt quilt.  No problem!!! You are at the perfect starting point for planning an awesome quilt.

Here’s how to plan a T-shirt quilt from scratch - from T-shirt zero.

1. Choose a Theme

A car show themed T-shirt quilt. What do you want your T-shirt quilt to be about? This is so much fun to decide. Most likely you already know. It will be about your passion. Or at least about something that you really like.

Once you choose a theme, you want to stick to that theme. For example, say your theme is car shows. All the T-shirts you collect should be about car shows. Adding even one T-shirt that differs from the theme is a mistake. It is just a distraction.

Another theme could be, “this is my life.” Here you would collect T-shirts from all aspects of your life. For example, you could collect T-shirts from 5K’s, car shows, church, travel, restaurants, colleges, concerts, and the like. Anything else in your life that comes with a T-shirt. Read more about themed T-shirt quilts here. 

2. Decide on a Color Pallet

Black and green T-shirt Quilt is a great example of monochromatic T-shirt quilt color theme.We have found that the best T-shirts quilts have either a specific color pallet or are a total mishmash of colors. Quilts that have a color pallet with just a few odds colors are not nearly as nice.

Color pallet examples:

  • All one color such as any shade of blue.
  • All black
  • All White
  • One color such as green plus black, white and gray.
  • Two colors such as green and purple plus black, white and gray.
  • Black, white and gray
  • Bright colors such as red, blue, green, orange and the like.
  • Pastel colors such as pink, baby blue, and any other pastels

Decide on a color theme before you begin collecting T-shirts. This will help you decide which T-shirts to buy.      


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. Decide on a Quilt Style

Here is a comparison of two different styles of T-shirt quilts. The quilt on the right is a traditional style. The quilt on the left is a Too Cool or puzzle style quilt. T-shirt quilts come in five different styles. It’s important to understand these styles before you begin collecting your T-shirts. Each style cuts the designs out of the T-shirt in a different way.

For example, a traditional style quilt will cut each design on a T-shirt with one size block. If you like the look of a traditional style quilt, you need to know what size block the quilter you like uses. Some companies use a 12” square block. Other companies use a 14” block.  Read more about traditional style T-shirt quilt here.

Here is a comparison of two different styles of T-shirt quilts. The blanket on the right is a traditional style. The quilt on the left is a Too Cool or puzzle style quilt. 

When you purchase your T-shirts with a traditional style quilt in mind, know the block size. Then measure the designs on the T-shirt before you buy it. You know not to purchase any T-shirt where the design is larger than the block size.

The photo here is an example of a small graphic cut out with a large block. The logo is off center and there is way too much wasted space.You should also avoid buying T-shirts with a design that is a lot smaller than the block size. A 3” square logo cut with a 14” square block will look weird. There will be too much margin around the design. Small chest logos will also get cut off center. Even stranger looking. The photo here is an example of a small graphic cut out with a large block. The logo is off center and there is way too much wasted space.

If that sounds like too much work, you might consider a puzzle style T-shirt quilt. With a puzzle style, all the blocks are cut to fit the graphics on the T-shirt. This means that you can choose any T-shirt design you want. It can be huge or very small. It can be any shape.

With a puzzle style quilt, you don’t have to make any concession to size when you are purchasing your T-shirts. Learn more about the 5 styles of T-shirt quilts here.

4. Collect your T-shirts

This is the fun part! Here are some ideas about where to get T-shirts.

  • Garage sales and resale stores
    We have made a number of quilts where we purchased T-shirts just at garage sales. We have made local college and university quilts. We have also made Mickey Mouse and Harley-Davidson quilts with T-shirts from garage sales.
  • eBay
    eBay is a great place to find used and new T-shirts. Just search for the shirts you are looking for. We purchased Ford Mustangs T-shirts for a theme quilt just from eBay.

    On eBay, you will find many different quality levels of T-shirts. The printing also comes in different qualities. Read the reviews carefully. Look for comments about the quality of the shirts and the printing. If the printing is coming off now, it will continue to pull off after you put in your quilt.
  • Buy New
    This is a more expensive option. You can find T-shirts at discount stores such as Walmart, drug stores, restaurants, and so many other places. If you look around, you will notice that you can buy T-shirts just about anywhere. 

How long will it take to collect T-shirts for your quilt?

A harley davidson T-shirt quiltIt depends on a number of factors.

  1. The size quilt you want.
    The larger the quilt, the more T-shirts you will need. This will require more expenditure.
  2. Budget
    The larger your budget, the quicker you will be able to acquire the T-shirts you want.
  3. How much time you are willing to give the project.

We have collected T-shirts for a theme quilt in as short as a week. Other times we have been more particular and collected for years.

5. Look at T-shirt quilts and talk to quilt makers.

As you are collecting T-shirts, also begin your research into finding a T-shirt quilt maker.  You need to get an idea about how many T-shirts you will need. That will depend on the style quilt you have made. It will also depend on the number of or estimated number of T-shirts your quilter suggests.

A quilter making a traditional style T-shirt quilt will be able to give you an exact number. This is because all the T-shirts are cut the same size. But the number needed will vary depending on the size block used.

A quilter making a puzzle style quilt will only be able to give you estimates. This is because all the blocks are cut different sizes. No two stacks of T-shirts will result in the exact same size quilt.  It just depends on what’s on the T-shirts. Read more about why you will only get an estimated number of T-shirts from a quilter making a puzzle style quilt.

6. Have your quilt made.

This is Amanda and Andrea at the Michigan location of Too Cool T-shirt Quilts.Once you have all your T-shirts for your quilt, it’s time to have a quilt made. Industry standard turnaround time is 4 to 8 weeks. If you need your quilt by a specific date, be sure to build this into your time estimates.

If a quilter says that it will take more than 8 to 10 weeks, ask why. She may be too busy with other activities. This might mean she is hobbyist rather than a full-time quilter. FYI - a hobbyist doesn’t have a lot to lose if she messes up your quilt. Whereas a full-time quilter has a reputation to up hold. She will also have more experience. A professional is a better choice than a hobbyist. Read more about finding a quilt maker here.

Once you have your quilt, it’s time to begin collecting for your next quilt. T-shirt quilts can be addictive!


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


Life is Good T-shirt quilt

 

Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt Quilt

Disney Girl

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.