Tech Fabric: Love It or Hate It, You Can Use it in a Quilt
November 26th, 2018
By Andrea Funk
Can I use T-shirts made from tech fabric in my T-shirt quilt? Yes, yes you can!
What is Micro-tech/Tech Fabric/Performance Apparel Fabric/Wicking Fabric?
So many names for one type of fabric! In this article I refer to all these as tech fabric.
I am talking about those silky soft fabrics that are made from polyester that a lot of runner’s T-shirts are made from. How these fabrics are woven is what makes them different. The weave is very porous. The weave allows moisture to pass through fabric. It moves sweat away from your body, through the fabric so it can evaporate. These fabrics keep you dry while you exercise.
Tech fabric is extremely soft and feels great to the touch. The texture of these T-shirts is wonderful for runners because it does not chafe.
Initially these fabrics were designed for performance exercise apparel. When they were first developed, they were expensive for two reasons. First, it was a new technology and the developer of it held all the strings. Second, it was touted as a unique technology that solved a big problem for runners.
Now days, Tech fabric is just not for runners. Everyone is wearing tech material. It’s now inexpensive but still feels great.
Can Tech T-shirts Be Mixed in With Other Yypes of T-shirts in a Quilt?
Yes. Too Cool T-shirt Quilts can mix any type of washable material into a T-shirt quilt. Most people will not even realize that there is tech fabric in a quilt unless it’s pointed out. The way to know the difference is the feel of the fabric. You have to touch it. Tech fabrics are also a little more shinny than T-shirt material.
Read more about what you can use in your quilt here.
Have You Been Told You Can’t Use Tech Fabric?
Many traditional-style T-shirt quilt makers can’t work with Tech fabric because they use iron-on interfacing. This iron on interfacing is used to make the T-shirts rigid and easier to work with. The heat of the iron melts the tech fabric. So, they may tell you that you are not usable in a T-shirt quilt. But that’s wrong. That quilt maker is simply incapable of using tech fabric.
Here, at Too Cool T-shirt Quilts, we can use Tech fabrics because we do not use iron on backing.
Planning a T-shirt quilt?
Here are step-by-step directions for ordering your Too Cool T-shirt quilt.
Why Are Tech Fabrics Challenging for Some Quilters?
Tech material can be challenging to work with since it is lightweight and moves more than conventional T-shirt fabric. It takes a very accomplished seamstress to sew a block of Tech material into a quilt without skewing or misshaping the block.
We have seen this first hand. We provide long arm quilting for other people making T-shirt quilts with the Too Cool method. We have seen very few quilters successfully work with tech fabrics. We rarely see a T-shirt quilt made by other quilters with tech material where they are able to keep the blocks square. Too Cool T-shirt Quilt's seamstresses have the skill and experience to sew tech fabric.
Having always used tech Fabric, we did not realize the aversion most other T-shirt quilt makers have toward it. Some T-shirt quilt makers told us how difficult it is to work with tech fabric while others just refuse to use it at all. Since T-shirts were first made from tech fabrics, we have been using it successfully. We just didn’t know how hard it was to use!
The Durability of Tech Fabric
Tech fabrics are lightweight and soft. But they are not wimpy and delicate. In fact, Tech material is very tough and will last as well as, or better than traditional T-shirt materials. The color of the T-shirt will not fade like a traditional cotton T-shirt. You have to look very carefully to figure out if a block is traditional T-shirt material or micro-tech material. The only difference is the texture.
The one caveat is that tech fabric can snag more easily than cotton. So, keep sharp objects away from tech fabric.
My Tech Fabric T-shirts Smell. Bad.
Oh Yeah, they can smell very bad.
This is because of the weave of the material. Particles of bacterial from your sweat get trapped in the weave of the material. And even though they are clean, they can smell bad.
There are commercial solutions that can help break up the bacteria. They work, but can cost a lot.
My solution is to wash and dry the T-shirts in hot water. The hot water can help kill the bacteria. If not, a hot dry can finish them off. Just not too hot that it will melt the fabric. I actually wash our tech material in with our sheets. I have never had a problem with the color running. So, it seems to work well.
In a T-shirt quilt, we typically just use the graphics from the T-shirts and void the armpits where most of the smell is going on. This will help keep any lingering smell out of your quilt.
Why We Love Quilts Made With All Tech Fabric
These quilts in the photos here and below are entirely made from tech T-shirts.
There are two things that distinguishes these quilt from another T-shirt quilts. The first is the weight of the quilt. A quilt made from all tech fabric is downright fluffy – very light weight. We are always amazed at the weight difference. The quilt made from tech quilt weighs half that of a similar size quilt made from cotton T-shirts!
The other difference is the color. Tech fabrics are bright and colorful. I can just look at a quilt and know if a T-shirt is cotton or tech fabric. And this color will not fade over time.
If you have tech fabric T-shirt you want included in your quilt, there is no good reason not to include them. If you have a found a quilter that can’t use tech fabric, we would suggest finding a different quilt maker.
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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.