Andrea Funk

By: Andrea Funk on May 21st, 2018

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How to Mark Your T-shirts for a Quilt

Planning a T-shirt Quilt

Do you want an awesome T-shirt quilt?

This is one awesome T-shirt quilt. It's has a 4" pieced border in blues, greens and purples.Ah, duh yeah! We want to make that awesome quilt for you!  Between your wishes and the final quilt there has to be communication.

Communication plays a large role in your T-shirt quilt. It’s important for us to understand exactly what you are hoping for. Marking your T-shirts is very important and a key to communications.  

Marking your T-shirts correctly will help ensure that the graphics you want end up in your quilt. It will also ensure that the ones you don’t want, will not end up in your quilt.

The directions here are how Too Cool T-shirt Quilts would like you to mark your T-shirts. Other T-shirt quilt makers may have different directions. This means that if you follow the wrong directions you and your quilt maker might run into some confusion.

If you are planning on using another T-shirt quilt maker, check out that company’s website for their directions.  Read more about what to expect when you are having a T-shirt Quilt made here.

No matter which company you use, please don’t make up your own directions. Our instructions are a direct result of over 25 years of making T-shirt quilts. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to mark your T-shirts. We don’t want to have to guess what you want to include or exclude.

When your T-shirts arrive in our shops, our first step is to cut them. We have hundreds of thousands of T-shirts. Last year alone we cut over 25,000 T-shirts. So, your T-shirts are in experienced hands. 

How to tell us what you DO NOT want used on your T-shirt.

Our directions are based on the premise that you want to use more of your T-shirts than less. With that in mind, we focus on having you tell us what not to use.

  1. This shows what happens to the X'd out part of your T-shirts. It's cut through and not saved. This is an example of how to X out graphics on your T-shirts that you do not want in your quilt. If there is a part of your T-shirt that you DO NOT want used, X it out with blue painter’s tape. We will use any remaining designs or graphics that are not X’d out.

    If you want an entire design used, you don’t need to do anything.

    The first photo shows how to X out something you don't want used in your quilt.

    The second photo here shows what happens to the X'd out part of your T-shirts. It's cut through and not saved. 

  2. Please don’t X out the blank parts of your T-shirts. We will only cut the designs. 

  3. After editing a cropped design and made back into a single block.Box what you want within a larger designIf there is small part of a larger design that you want used, box in the part of the design you DO want used with masking tape. Please only box a design when you want to use a specific part of a larger design. We call this editing. Here’s more about editing your T-shirts.

    The second photo shows what we will do these two pieces you want. 

  4. This shows directions to center this T-shirt in a quilt. If you have a special request for a particular T-shirt, write that request on blue painter’s tape. Then stick iton the T-shirts. That’s right, write the note on the blue painter’s tape first. Let the ink dry. Then stick it on the T-shirts. This will prevent marker from rubbing off onto a T-shirt.

    Put T-shirts with special instructions on the top of your stack of T-shirts.

    For example, say that you want a particular shirt centered. Write that request on blue painter’s tape and stick it to the T-shirt outside the area of the graphic or design. After we cut the block, we will move the tape on the block. After we finish the quilt, the tape will be removed.

    This photo shows how will will keep that special block marked with directions until we have it sewn in the quilt.Please keep your request for placement of T-shirts down to just a few. The more specific placements you request, the less flexibility we will have in laying out your quilt. This can result in a less interesting quilt design.

    The first photo shows a note attached to a T-shirt quilt special instructions. The second photo here shows what we do with the note after we have cut the T-shirt. 

  5. Stains. Normally we do not do anything about stains on your T-shirts. Stains are part of your story. If this is ok with you, then you don’t need to do anything.

    If there is a stain that you don’t want in the quilt, mark that area with blue painter’s tape. On the blue painter’s tape write what you would like. For example, write “remove” or “avoid if possible.”

    If you ask us to remove the spot, the area in question will be cutout. Then we will place a piece of matching fabric behind the hole. This might not look much better than the stain. It is also a lot of work. There is a charge for this service of $2.50 per block.

    Stained T-shirt slated to go into a quilt.This shows a stain on a T-shirt that was removed.This show how we put another piece of matching fabric behind the hole where the stain was.

    In the three photos here, the first shows a stain. The second shows that stain cut out from the shirt. The last of these three photos shows the block with the repaired spot.

    If you ask us to avoid the spot, we will try to cut the T-shirt block not to include the stain. This might mean that a block will be cut off center. We like to center the design on the block rather than have it off center because it looks better. Having the design off center will be more noticeable than most stains.

  6. We are able to figure out from the tag in this shirt that the logo on the sleeve is a ad that we don't want to use.Advertisements. We typically try to not include advertisements in a quilt. But there are times that we can’t determine if something is an ad or not. And sometimes you want an ad used! It might be your company.

    If you want an ad used, please note this on that shirt. If there is an advertisement you don’t want used, just X it out.

    In the photo here, we see the marker's mark on the sleeve. We know by looking inside the collar of this T-shirt that this is logo is that of the shirt maker. We would not use this logo in your quilt. 

  7. This shows how we can avoid a maker's mark on a T-shirt before we cut the blockThis shows a graphic on a T-shirt that includes a maker's mark.The Nike Swish and other types of small logos on T-shirts may end up in your quilt. A lot of athletic wear has the maker's mark on, near or within the graphic. If we can avoid those, we do. But if it will look stupid if we try to eliminate the mark, we will just leave it.

    The first photo shows branding for "Intensity" within the cutting area. To avoid this logo we would cut this block a little tighter so we could cut off that branding logo.

  8. practice penny typically have an inside and outside graphics. We need to know which one to use.Double-sided practice jerseys and pennies generally have graphics on the outside and inside. Unless you tell us to use just one side, we will use both. But if you have too many items, we will tend to just use the colored side. It will help us if you tell us what you want done with double-sided items.

  9. If you feel you won’t have enough T-shirts to make a quilt the size you would like, print on the top of your order form to “Cut Big.” This means that we will leave additional margin around the graphics. If you end up with too much, we can always cut the blocks smaller.

    How many T-shirts do you need for a T-shirt quiltHere’s a chart of the approximate number of T-shirts you will need for each size quilt. We count one shirt as one shirt regardless of the number of graphics on each T-shirt. If most of your T-shirts have large designs on the front and back, you will need fewer T-shirts.

    Read more here about why we can’t tell you exactly how many T-shirts you need for a particular size quilt.

  10. If you feel you may have too many T-shirts for the quilt size you want, you need to break your T-shirts up into two or more groupings. We will start with the main grouping of T-shirts. After those are cut, we will calculate the quilt size. If we need more T-shirts to make the quilt larger, we will begin cutting the second group. We will cut from the top of the stack down until we get to the size you want.

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

A Note About Painter's Tape

Please only use blue painter’s tape. Other types of tape are stickier and may leave a residue on your T-shirts. 

Please only put tape on the parts of the T-shirts you DO NOT want used. If the tape does leave a residue, it will be on the graphics you don’t want used – no big deal.

The first photo here is of blue painter’s tape. This is the correct tape to use on your T-shirts.
The tapes in the second photo are not. Please don’t use these tapes on your T-shirts. 

This is blue painters tape. This is the best take to use for marking direction on your T-shirts for your quilt maker.These 5 tapes are not painters tape. Don't use them to mark your T-shirts for a quilt maker.








Please don’t do the following…

  • Please do not staple or pin directions onto the shirts. Especially in the area we will be using. It puts holes in your T-shirts.
  • This is the second tape ball we have made. Don't box in what you want to use. X out what you don't want used.Don’t box in all the designs you want with painters tape!!! Please don’t. If you have already done this, please go back and remove this tape. Having to remove tape is very time consuming and tends to make us grumpy. We will charge you $1 for each shirt with the entire design boxed in with tape that is unnecessary.   *Prices effective until 12/31/2021
  • Don’t bundle your T-shirts into three groups labeled: use front only, use fronts and back and use backs only. Sometimes these groupings come apart. Then we have no idea what to use. This method might seem straight forward, but we have had more issues with it than we care to remember. Don’t do it. 
  • Don’t send your T-shirts in scented trash bags. The smell makes us want to barf!

Read how to box up your T-shirts here. 

This article has been full of don’ts. So, let’s end on a positive note.

Spend time with your T-shirts before you send them to us to have a quilt made. Make sure that the shirts you send are the shirts you want in your quilt. We want to make you an awesome quilt. A quilt you will love and treasure for a lifetime.

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

 Cleveland Cavs 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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