Andrea Funk

By: Andrea Funk on June 11th, 2018

Print/Save as PDF

T-shirt Quilts: 8 Key Decision You Need to Make

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

Are you are planning a T-shirt quilt?  You have 8 initial decisions to make about a T-shirt quilt. You need to know what you want!  

You should make these decisions before you find a quilt maker.  Knowing what you want from your quilt will help you find a quilt maker that’s right for you. 

1. Do you want a blanket or a quilt?

Not all T-shirts quilts advertised as quilts are actually quilts. Some are blankets. There is a huge difference! You need to decide if you want a quilt or a blanket. And you need to know what to ask a quilt maker to determine what she is making.

Fleece on the back of a T-shirt blanketBlanket:
A blanket has two layers. The top is made up of the T-shirts. On the back is fabric. The top and the backing are sewn together long the edges. Nothing holding the backing to the top within the body of the blanket. The result is a floppy blanket. (see the photo here). A blanket is quick and very inexpensive to make. The maker doesn’t need much experience

Quilt:
A quilt has three layers. The quilt top is made from your T-shirts. The backing is some type of fabric such as 100% cotton or 100% polyester.  A batting (stuffing) is layered between the quilt top and the backing fabric. A quilt must have some type of batting to be a quilt.

The other major difference is that a quilt has quilting holding the three layers together. A quilt is much more time consuming and expensive to make. The maker needs a lot of experience and specialized tools to make a great quilt.

It’s important to know which one is right for you. Read more about the differences between quilts and blankets here.

2. Do you want a quilt with a single block size or multiple block sizes?

Comparing a quilt with a blanket. They are very different

There are two schools of T-shirt quilt making. The traditional method is to make the quilt with a single block size. The modern style uses many block sizes. The blocks are puzzled together to make a quilt top. 

Most T-shirt graphics are different sizes. Look at your T-shirts. Are the logos and graphics all the same size?  If so, a traditional one block size style might be a good fit for your T-shirts.

Do your graphics vary in sizes? If so, consider a T-shirt quilt made with many different size blocks.

Learn what to look for in photos of T-shirt quilts. Then eliminate from your search any quilt style you don’t want.  Read more about styles of T-shirt quilts here.

3. Do you want a quilt made with only T-shirts? Or would you like a quilt that can incorporate any type of fabric?

A Converse shoe used in a T-shirt QuiltSome quilters can only use T-shirt material. This is because they may not be experienced in mixing other types of fabrics with the T-shirt material. Or they may use a method that does not allow fabrics that are not T-shirt material. 

If you want to include other fabrics and items in your quilt, find a quilter using a method that allows for this.

What can you use in a quilt beyond a T-shirt? Read here about some basic and unique items you can use in a quilt 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


4. What quality quilt do you want? 

This is a comparison of 2 different binding styles. The one on  the left is heirloom quality. The one on the right is not.You can find qualities ranging from heirloom to ultra-cheap quality quilts. What do you want from your quilt? Do you want something that will last for generations? Or are you looking just to have a quilt made because that is what everyone else is doing?

If you want an heirloom quality quilt, evaluate your options carefully. Ask lots of questions. Know what you will get back before you send your T-shirts to a quilt maker. 

Are you having a T-shirt quilt made because that’s what people are doing? If you don’t care about your T-shirts. If you don’t want to spend a lot. Don’t worry. There are many inexpensive options to consider.

If you go with inexpensive option, you need to know the tradeoffs. For example, you will most likely receive a T-shirt blanket. If you have low expectation, you will be fine. Read more about inexpensive T-shirt quilts here. 

5. Do you want to make your own T-shirt quilt?

someone sewing a T-shirt quilt.Are you looking to make your own T-shirt quilt? Are you qualified to make a T-shirt quilt? They aren’t as easy as they look.  Here is a list of questions to answer to help determine if you are qualified to make your own quilt. 

If you know you have no business making your own quilt, then consider having your quilt professionally made.  Read more about finding a professional quilter here.

6. Do you want your quilt tied or quilted?

This T-shirt quilt has been tied rather than long-arm quiltedA quilt that is tied, is still considered a quilt. This is because the three layers of the quilt are connected. The simplest style of quilting is a tied quilt. To tie a quilt, a quilter uses yarn or embroidery floss to make a series of knots throughout the quilt. A quilt that is tied is not heirloom quality. But it is generally a step-up from a blanket. A tied quilt will cost less a quilt quilted with a long-arm quilting machine. 

 

7. Would you like simple or fancy quilting?

fancy quilting on a T-shirt quilt as seen from the back.Simple quilting is typified by a simple design repeated throughout the quilt. This is quick quilting solution for a quilt maker. Some quilters even can program their long-arm quilting machine to do it for them. (Look Mom, no hands!) Simple quilting equates to a less expensive quilt.

A quilt fancy quilting is typified by each block having unique design. This includes tracing some of the graphics on T-shirts. These tracings show up on the back of a quilt - very cool.  Fancy quilting is done by an artist. It takes time. It takes 8 to 20 times longer than simple quilting. A quilt with fancy quilting will cost a lot more than a quilt with simple quilting. Read more about quilting here. 

8. Do you want a solid color or printed fabric backing material?

As explained above, the backing material is what is on the back of a quilt. A quilt maker can use almost any type of fabric. And they can use a solid or print for this material.

print_backingA print fabric camouflages any quilting or ties. A quilter uses print fabrics to conceal quilting or ties they do not want seen. The photo here show a quilt that was backed with a print. You can not see the quilting at all. At the bottom is a photo of a solid colored backing where you see the quilting. 

If a quilter wants you to see the quilting, they will use a solid color fabric with a contrasting thread color. This emphasizes the quilting. If you want fancy quilting, choose a solid color fabric.

The other thing to remember about a print material is that it will be dated after a few years. Fabric designs and styles are continuously changing. It’s just like a wardrobe that changes and old clothes become out dated. 

Think about what you want to see on the back of your quilt. Read more about backing material here.

Conclusion

Everyone has different ideas about what a T-shirt quilt is. What a T-shirt quilt should look like. Begin your search for a quilt maker, by defining what you want your quilt to look like. Then, click here to read about how to find a quilt maker.


H Quilt Back

 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

 

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.