I hate my T-shirt quilt! What can I do?
March 9th, 2020
By Andrea Funk
Here are 4 choice you can take when you don’t like your quilt.
- Fix the problem – if possible.
- Leave it as is and enjoy it.
- Put it in the closet and forget about it.
- Have the quilt totally remade.
Hate is such a strong word. But sometimes when there is an error in a T-shirt quilt, the hate word is used. You could also insert the words: dislike, unhappy with, disappointed with and the like.
In this article we will begin by looking at what you can do about a T-shirt quilt you are unhappy with. Then we will look at some of the reasons you might hate your quilt. Here we will examine what can or cannot be done to solve the problem.
Towards the end we will look at special situations that effect your feelings towards your quilt. The first is if you are having a quilt made for another person. The second is about the cost of your quilt.
What you can do if you hate your T-shirt quilt.
There are 4 typical paths you can take when you don’t like your T-shirt quilt.
Fix the problem – if possible.
Start with your quilt maker. Can this problem be fixed? Don’t play a blame game. It’s just counterproductive. Explain what the problem is and ask if there is a solution.
Leave it as is and enjoy it.
Quilt makers believe quilts should not be perfect! Did you know Amish and Mennonite women purposely put a mistake in each of their quilts? They believe only God is perfect, therefore, it would be prideful to make a perfect quilt.
Accept the imperfection and enjoy the memories of your T-shirts.
Put it in the closet and forget about it.
This is a bad solution. Especially if the problem is minor. First, because you never forget about it. It just festers and takes up residence in your brain. And second, you don’t get to enjoy any of the memories from your T-shirts.
Have the quilt totally remade.
If the quilt you had made is so awful that you are tempted to follow the previous solution, check with other quilters to see if the quilt can be remade.
Having a T-shirt quilt totally remade is an expensive option. It will cost to have the quilt unmade and then more to have it remade.
8 Reasons why you may hate your T-shirt quilt and possible solutions.
There are many reasons you may be unhappy or hate your T-shirt quilt. Below are some typical reasons we see people unhappy about their quilt. After each reason, we let you know what the solution is, and if there is a solution.
I don’t want to dwell on why the mistakes or choices that were made. I want to explain each reason and then focus on what can and cannot be done to make your quilt how you want it.
1. You might have put a T-shirt in the quilt you didn’t like or want.
If you don’t want a T-shirt in your quilt, don’t send it in the first place. Your quilt maker has no way of knowing that you didn’t want that T-shirt or a particular part of a T-shirt. You have to communicate what you want and don’t want. Here are our directions for marking your T-shirts.
Removing a T-shirt block from a quilt is not easy or a good solution. There are technical sewing issues that make removing a block and replacing it exceeding difficult.
The solution we use here at Too Cool T-shirt Quilts is to cover the undesired block up with a new T-shirt block. The old block remains in place but is covered by the new block. The new block is quilted. From the back you will see the new quilting and the old quilting.
In the photos here, the first one shows the front of a quilt with a fixed block. You can see the stitching on the inner sides of the block. The second photo show the back of this same quilt. You can see here the double quilting. We initially quilted the block. When we covered up the block, we did additional quilting.
You will be able to readily see the fix. But if the block is so offensive, living with the fix might be better.
In the photos below, the first quilt had a block they didn't like in the bottom right hand cover. This block was covered up with the new purple block you see in the second photo.
2. A T-shirt you don’t love is front and center in the quilt.
Again, this is an issue of communication with your quilt makers. Most professional quilt makers arrange the blocks in a quilt to look great. We base our design on color, graphics and direction of the action on the T-shirt. Unless you state you want a particular T-shirt on the side, your quilt maker can’t know this.
As you look at your T-shirts, think about how someone who has no knowledge of your experiences would see that T-shirt. For example, a bright purple T-shirt with a cool looking graphic might be placed in the center of the quilt. Your quilt maker doesn’t know the history of this T-shirt. She doesn’t know why it should be placed on the side. You need to communicate this information.
Our two cents: If you have a T-shirt that you don’t like enough to put in the center of your quilt, should you include it at all?
Again, this can be fixed by covering up the undesired block with a new block. But you can’t also have the old blocked saved and used elsewhere in the quilt. It’s an either or solution.
3. You do not like the colors of filler blocks.
When you have a puzzle style quilt made, sometime there are filler blocks. It’s a math thing. Sometimes the numbers don’t come out evenly. A quilter making a puzzle style T-shirt quilt can use these “open” spots to help balance the colors of the T-shirts throughout the quilt. Read more about filler blocks here.
For example, consider if you have one neon yellow block. I think you have to add other filler blocks of that color to balance out that one super bright block. If not, all you will see is that one bright neon block. The fillers help make that block less noticeable. Read more about balancing one bright block here.
If you hate the colors of the filler blocks a quilt maker added, first think about why they were added. An artistic quilt maker is not just going to add blocks willy-nilly. There is usually a good reason. If you are concerned, first talk to your quilt maker about why they were chosen.
These blocks can be covered up by new blocks. See the solution for reason 1 for more details.
Remember, covering up these filler blocks with different colors may change the look of your quilt. And this might not be good.
4. The backing color is not what you wanted.
This might happen for a few reason:
- The quilt maker made an error.
- You didn’t communicate with your quilt maker the exact shade of the color you wanted.
- The quilt maker only has 10 colors to choose from and they are not described as you would expect. For example, they have a color listed as crimson. You think a dark red. But it turned out to be fuchsia pink. See the example here. Is it crimson or fuchsia?
This cannot be easily solved. The quilt would have to be taken apart and re quilted. This is very time consuming and bad for the front of your quilt. It will be left full of holes from the quilting. This will ruin your T-shirts.
If this is an error on the part of the quilt maker, she would probably rather discount the quilt rather than ruin the quilt by attempting to fix it.
5. You wanted a different thread color.
The thread color is the color of the quilting stitches you see from the back of the quilt. Many times, your long-arm quilter chooses the thread color. They have the experience and expertise to make this decision.
Every once in a while, a customer doesn’t like the choice.
Like trying to change out the backing color, changing out the thread color would resulting in ruining your quilt too.
6. You don’t like the binding color.
Most of the time, you will communicate what color you want for your quilt’s binding. Sometimes, like with backing color, the color doesn’t come out as you would like or expected.
This can be fixed by removing the binding and replacing it with a new binding.
7. You had a quilt made by an unskilled quilt maker.
Oh Boy! We have seen this happen more than we care to! It breaks our hearts when we see this. I can only imagine what you must be feeling.
Solution? Maybe, it depends.
We can remake many quilts. It involves cutting the blocks out of the old quilt. Then if there are quilting stitches, we remove the stitching. The blocks then are cut to the right size. Some blocks will have to be mounted on a larger piece of material. Then the old blocks will be ready to be transformed into a new quilt. Read more about remaking a T-shirt quilt here.
This is a good solution for a quilt that has been lightly quilted or a blanket without any quilting. Remaking a T-shirt quilt is a bad solution if your quilt has been heavily quilted. Our quilts are heavily quilted and would not be a candidate for remaking.
The issue with a heavily quilted quilt is that when the quilting is removed, the blocks will be perforated. Over time all these little holes will open and grow.
When a quilt is lightly quilted, those holes are few enough they can be glued to stop them from opening.
For comparison, a lightly quilted quilt might have 50 to 100 holes. A heavily quilted quilt might have over 2000 holes. The block in the photos here has more than 100 holes, but still way less than one of our quilts. All those little white dots are holes!
8. You received a blanket when you expected a quilt.
So, you sent your quilt to someone who claimed to be a quilt maker. Yet, it came back as a blanket.
Quickly, a blanket has two layers – the T-shirt part and backing material. There is nothing holding these two layers together. In the photo here you can see that the back and front of the blanket are not attached.
On the other hand, a quilt has three layers, the T-shirt part, batting and backing. The three layers are held together by quilting. Read more about the differences here.
There are two typical solutions to this.
The first is to have the back of the blanket removed. The a new backing and batting would be added. The long arm quilter would then quilt your quilt top into a quilt.
This will involve three steps for a quilt maker.
- Remove the backing.
- Quilt on a long arm quilting machine.
- Bind the quilt.
This will also require new backing material, batting and fabric for the binding. It could cost twice or more than your original blanket cost.
The second solution is more simple. Add long-arm quilting to the blanket. A long arm quilter would put your blanket on their long-arm quilting machine and quilt it. They would not do anything to the structure of the blanket. So, they would not add batting or change the “binding” of the blanket.
This would make your blanket more stable. It would connect the back to the front. It would still not be a true quilt because it lacks batting. However, it would not be quite a blanket any more. Kind of a hybrid of the two.
Cost of Solutions
This will depend on whose error is being fixed. It’s something you will need to negotiate with your quilt maker. If the error is not the quilt makers fault, expect to pay an hourly rate for the fix. Most quilters will have a one hour minimum and then break the remaining time down into 15 minute increments.
For a total quilt remake, expect to pay a lot. There will be cost for unmaking the quilt. This might be charged by the hour, a flat fee or a per block charge. The more initial quilting your quilt has, the more it will cost to have it taken apart.
Then there will be the cost of remaking the quilt. It probably will be the standard charge of a quilt plus cost for any type of block repair.
Read more about the cost of our different services here.
You had the quilt made for someone else.
Many times our quilts are made as gifts. For example, a mom will make a quilt for her child’s high school graduation or for Christmas. Then the mom complains that something is wrong with the quilt. “Oh Hannah only did gymnastics for 3 years. That block is centered and needs to be moved because swimming is more important.”
Or, “Britany won’t like that color thread. It needs to be changed.”
Situations like these are a quilt maker’s biggest frustration. A mom complains that something is wrong. They are so sure their child will not like the quilt because of this one issue she has become fixated on.
We ask that you don’t have anything changed on a T-shirt quilt you plan on giving as a gift until after you give it to the person. We also ask that you not point out what you think is so wrong with the quilt.
Hannah might love that T-shirt and be ok with it in the center of the quilt. Britany might not have any issue with the thread color. She might love it.
But if you point out what you think are issues, that will influence how the gift is received. This is so unfair to the recipient of the gift. You are telling them that you are giving them something awful.
Let the recipient be the one to say, oh I hate this. Or I wish this was different. This is especially true on something that can’t be changed.
Let the person you give the quilt to a chance to love it! Don’t influence their joy with your concerns.
You decide you can’t or don’t want to afford your quilt after it’s completed.
There are customers who decide they don’t want to pay as much for the quilt as they were quoted. The right thing to do?Choose not to have a quilt made. The dirty thing to do is to complain about the quilt just to get the price reduced. “If I complain enough about the product, they will give me a discount.”
Many times it’s an implied threat that if you don’t reduce the price of my quilt, I will talk bad about you. And in this day and age, it’s a threat that might hold water for some companies. When one bad review can truly effect a company. So many businesses will cave.
This is an awful thing to do to any business. It’s selfish. A quilt maker’s pricing should be up front. You will know exactly how much your quilt will be before your quilt maker begin making the quilt.
Businesses know which customers use this ploy. We all keep a list of bad customers so we know not to do business with them again.
Where there is a real issue with a quilt, we will work with you to try to fix it. But when there is nothing wrong with your quilt, we will not reduce our price to meet your budget. If you don’t want to pay for your quilt, we will just hang on to it until you are ready pay.
Quilt makers cannot give their quilts away. Did you know that 99.9999% of T-shirt quilt makers are small businesses or home based businesses? They rely on this income to feed their families! If you can’t afford a quilt, don’t have one made.
Mistakes get made. Those that can be fix, are fixed. Those that can’t be fix won’t be fix. And sometimes a fix is worse than the mistake!
For those of you who haven’t yet had a quilt made or if you are adventurous enough to have another quilt made, here’s an article with ways you can make your quilt right the first time.
Our Most Hated Quilt
5 years later we can look back at this situation and not feel like throwing up. The customer, let's call her Karen, hated everything about the quilt. From the color of the backing fabric to the thread color, from the amount of quilting we did to the layout. Everything was wrong. And she was not having any of it. Just an unpleasant situation and an unpleasant person.
We finally learned that Karen's sister had made a T-shirt quilt for Karen's older daughter. Karen said her sister had used the book that we wrote, How to Make a Too Cool Style T-shirt Quilt. She thought we would do this quilt just like her sister had made the first quilt. What?! I wrote the book. Not your sister.
We learned that her sister did not follow the directions exactly, or at all. She made a quilt in columns and rows! Our style was too difficult for her.
I asked Karen if she had even looked at our website before she sent us the T-shirts. She had not. That one is on her and not us!
We begged Karen not to poison her daughter's reaction to her quilt. She did. I am so sad for her daughter. Such a beautiful quilt that her daughter should have loved.
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.