Andrea Funk

By: Andrea Funk on August 27th, 2018

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Separate the fronts and backs of T-shirts in a quilt for the best results.

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

A cool T-shirt quilt - the blocks are balanced. We are frequently asked to put fronts and backs of a T-shirt together in a quilt. Not for just one T-shirt, but for every single one.

Our answer to this is no.  A puzzle style T-shirt quilt is not the right application if you want fronts and backs of T-shirts together. We would suggest a traditional style quilt for that. Read more about styles of T-shirt quilts here.

Here are some reasons we don’t like to put the fronts and backs of T-shirts together.

Search and Find

Remember the children’s book, Where’s Waldo? (Wally to those in the UK)The book’s goal is to have the reader find Waldo. He hides in plain sight within a group of people.  He wears a distinctive red-and-white-striped shirt, tasseled hat, and glasses. This should make him easy to find. Except the illustrations are full of red-and-white striped red-herrings to fool you. While you search for Waldo, you see so many other fun and interesting things.

That’s a Too Cool T-shirt Quilt!

WSU T-shirt quilt with balanced colors, shapes and sizes.What I liked about Too Cool style T-shirt quilts is that the T-shirt blocks are all puzzled together.  Some people feel that without a formal organization, our quilts are too confusing.  And if that is you, again, consider a traditional style T-shirt quilt.

It is this lack of organization that makes our quilts fun, dynamic, interesting and different. 

Without rows and columns, you spend more time looking at a quilt than you would a traditional T-shirt quilt. When you find the front of one T-shirt you then have to search to find it’s back.

While you are searching for the backside of that T-shirt, you find other T-shirts to think and talk about. The “where is it” game pulls you into the quilt and the stories it holds.

When you search for Waldo in a Where’s Waldo illustration, it is no fun finding him right away. Rather, it is all the things you see while searching for him that add depth and color to the game. 

The old saying, “it’s the journey and not the destination,” is true. In the case of a T-shirt quilt, having to search for a T-shirt is more fun and enjoyable than just being able to say, third row, second column.

A Too Cool T-shirt Quilt is an journey and not a destination.


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


Size Difference

A great graduation T-shirt quilt with a 4" solid green border.If you cut all the blocks in a T-shirt quilt the same size, it’s easy to put the front and back of a T-shirt together. A traditional style T-shirt quilt does cut all their blocks the same size.

All the blocks in our quilts are different sizes. If the back of your T-shirt is very large and the front very small, we would have to cut both blocks either the same width or length to be able to sew them together.  This makes for large blocks for some T-shirts. But if you have a T-shirt with a small logo on just one side, you would have such a small block mixed into huge blocks.

This can be done, but it’s not balanced or interesting.

Big Blocks of Color

U of M T-shirt quilt with one gigantic block that dominates the quilt.

Combining fronts and backs of your T-shirts can lead to large blocks of color.  Say you have one red T-shirt with a design on the front and one on the back. All you other T-shirts are grays, blues, and blacks.  When you combine the two red blocks into one, you will have a single red block. Your eye will always go to that block first. That single red block scream.

The solution is to keep the front and back separate. We would also add at least one red filler in your quilt.  One red block screams. Two other red blocks take the power away from the large single block. 

No Balance to the Quilt

Big blocks and big blocks of color throw off the balance of a quilt. In the photo here, you can see how the large block in the quilt dominates. The little blocks get lost.

It’s important to us that we do our best to balance out the blocks in a quilt. Quilts with a few extra-large blocks mixed in with small blocks are very difficult to make work. 

When you keep fronts and backs of T-shirts together, you create very large blocks that will dominate your quilt. 

Your quilt will be nicer if you keep the fronts and backs of your T-shirts separated. If you feel that want to keep the fronts and backs together, find a different style of quilt. We would suggest a traditional style quilt.

Read more about the different styles of quilts here.

Read more about finding a quilt maker here.


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 great graduation T-shirt quilt with balanced blocks sizes and colors.

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.