Andrea Funk

By: Andrea Funk on July 20th, 2020

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Planning a T-shirt quilt? Here are the first 6 questions you need to answer

Finding a T-shirt Quilt Maker

Are you beginning the process of planning your T-shirt quilt? If so, start by asking yourself the following 6 questions. These questions will help you focus your search to find a T-shirt quilt maker. The answers to these questions can help you weed out quilters that don’t meet your requirements.  

1. How many T-shirts do you have?

Knowing how many T-shirts you have is important to help you determine what size quilt you might need.

  1. A pile of t-shirts for a T-shirt quiltSome T-shirt quilt styles limit how many T-shirts you can have. For example, a traditional style T-shirt quilt will limit the number of T-shirts you can use. A quilt that is 5 blocks wide by 7 blocks down can use 35 graphics. So if you have 20 T-shirts with graphics on both sides, you would be limited to choosing just 35 of the 40 graphics on those T-shirts.

    A puzzle style T-shirt quilt like we make here at Too Cool T-shirt quilts will let you use any number of T-shirts graphics. The more graphics and designs you have just increases the size of your quilt.

  2. The number of T-shirts you have will in part determine the size of your quilt. So if you want a small quilt and have a lot of T-shirts, you have two choices. One, increase the size quilt you want. Or two, eliminate T-shirts so you can have a smaller quilt.

Here's how many T-shirts you might need for a Too Cool T-shirt quilt. 

2. What size quilt do you want?

This is one T-shirt quilt that shows the different sizes of standard quilt sizes.The size quilt you want will dictate the number of T-shirts you can use. The more T-shirts you have, the larger your quilt will need to be.

If you are finding you have too many T-shirts for the size quilt you want, you will need to sort through your T-shirts to figure out which ones to use to tell the story you want to tell.

On the other hand, if you don't have enough T-shirts to make a quilt the size you want, you will need to either accept a smaller quilt or figure out how to get your quilt larger. Here's more about how to increase the size of your quilt without adding additional T-shirts. 

This photo here shows the differences in our standard size T-shirt quilts. The red show the size of a lap quilt and the purple shows the size of a king size quilt. The other colors show the sizes in between. Read more about quilt sizes here. 

3. Do you want a quilt or a blanket?

A quilt and a blanket are not the same thing! A quilt has three layers with stitching holding the layers together. Whereas a blanket has just two layers and nothing holding the two layers together. Read more about the difference here.

A quilt will cost 4 to 6 times more than a blanket because there is so much more to a quilt. A quilt will take more time to make, there are more materials and equipment required and will require a skilled quilt maker.

In the photo below, the blanket is on the left and our T-shirt quilt is on the right. Same T-shirts - very different results.
Compare T-shirt blanket on the left to a T-shirt quilt on the right.

But beware – some companies who make blankets, will call them quilts.

But they are not quilts! So how do you know? If you can’t tell from photos on their website, you will need to ask the company questions.

  • Are your T-shirt quilts actually quilted? The correct answer for a quilt is “yes.”
  • How many layers are your quilts? The correct answer for a quilt is “3.”
  • What type of batting do you use? Any type of batting means it is a quilt.
  • Are your quilts machine quilted? The correct answer for a quilt is “yes.”

The answers to these questions will tell you if that company makes a quilt or a blanket. Note: companies like Project Repat and American Quilt Co/Blanquilts do not make quilts. They make blankets. Don't be fooled. 


Learn more about having a T-shirt quilt made with our complete T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide.
It will help you learn more about having your T-shirts transformed into a quilt. 
T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide


4. Are all the graphics on your T-shirts the same size?

This is a section of a T-shirt quilt that shows many different size blocks used in one quilt.If all your graphics are the same size and will fit in a 12 or 14 inch square, you might want to have a traditional style T-shirt quilt made. But if the graphics on your T-shirts are all different sizes, you will want a puzzle style quilt that uses different block sizes. Read more about the different styles of T-shirt quilts here.

If your graphics are all different sizes and you choose to have a traditional T-shirt quilt made, you need to be prepared to expect two things:

  1. The graphics larger than the one block size will be cropped to fit that block size. Are you okay with that? Will it break your heart to have a block cropped off?

  2. Small graphics will be left with too much space around them. Many times the small graphics are in the upper right hand corner of the blocks. It will look silly and be a waste of space that would have been used for graphics from other T-shirts.

5. Do you want heirloom quality or just good enough for now?

compare quilting on a Too Cool T-shirt quilt (black) with a campus quilt (pink)Just like any product, T-shirt quilts range from cheap to heirloom. Depending on how you care for your quilt, an heirloom quality quilt should be able to be passed down from generation to generation. Whereas a cheap quilt may not have a long life span. Read more about how to have a T-shirt quilt to last a lifetime here. 

What expectations do you have for your T-shirt quilt?

Knowing what quality level of a quilt you would like will help you when you set a budget. If you want a well-made high quality quilt, you need to expect to pay for this. If you are willing to settle for a good enough, then you can spend a lot less.

Click here to read about how much does a T-shirt quilt cost.

6. What is your budget?

There are a number of considerations that will impact your budget…

  1. Quilt size – the larger the quilt, the more it will cost.
  2. The style of quilt – the more complex the quilt, the more it will cost.
  3. If you are having a quilt or a blanket made? A blanket will cost less than a quilt.
  4. The quality of materials use – the higher the quality, the more expensive the quilt will be.
  5. The skill of the quilt maker – the more experienced a quilt maker, the more expensive your quilt will be. 

Set a budget and then double it. A good rule of thumb is to put aside about $20 to $40 for every T-shirt you plan to put in a quilt. The larger your budget, the better quality of quilt you can have made.

If your budget is very small but your T-shirts are very important, right now might not be the right time for you to have a quilt made. A well-made, high quality and interesting T-shirt quilt generally is not free. You will get what you pay for.

Stained glass T-shirt quilt - very cool - Too Cool A hohum campus quilt T-shirt quilt. Boring.

It comes down to, “you get what you pay for.”

$100 will get you a small disappointing blanket and $1500 will get you a big kick-ass quilt. You need to decide what you want for your T-shirts. If you can’t afford what you want, save up until you can.

Conclusion

Now that you have answered these 6 questions,  you are ready to begin your search for a quilt maker to make your T-shirts quilt. 

We here at Too Cool T-shirt Quilts would be delighted to make a quilt for you. Here's now. 

If you want to investigate other options, here's an article about how to find a T-shirt quilt maker.  

Guy loves his 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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