Andrea Funk

By: Andrea Funk on March 11th, 2019

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Here It Is - The Stained Glass T-shirt Quilt

Styles & Types of T-shirt Quilts  |  Planning a T-shirt Quilt  |  Comparing T-shirt Quilts

Stained glass T-shirt quilts are awesome!The Stained Glass T-shirt Quilt! 

I am so excited to announce the creation of the Too Cool style stained glass T-shirt quilt. I think this is the coolest quilt I have made in years! The thin black fabric between blocks, mimics the “lead came” seen in stained glass. I love how it sets off the colorful blocks. From here on, we will call Lead Came simply “Leading.” The photos just don’t do the quilt justice. And there are additional photos below.

How did this come about?

This winter I took an extended break looking for the warmth. Before leaving, I decided I wanted to make a blue jean quilt on the road. When I was searching blue jean quilt projects, I was drawn to a stained glass blue jean quilt.

Before leaving, I purchased a dozen pairs of jeans from Goodwill. And about designing my quilt. I used the Too Cool methodology. But at a very small scale. Designing was easy to do at home before the trip.

Jean stained glass quilt in progress

In my mind, I wanted a project with small pieces because it would be easy to work while traveling. I cut my smallest pieces 2” and the largest 8”. I just forgot that I was making a queen size quilt. Eventually all the small sections would work into a very large quilt. It’s been a fun struggle sewing this quilt top together.

In this quilt, I am using ¼” fabric for the leading. I choose to use a dark fuchsia rather than black because I love fuchsia. The blue jean quilt top is about ¾ of the way complete.

Practice sample for a Stained Glass T-shirt quiltBefore I left home, I tested my piecing procedure to make sure it works. It did. Then I looked around at all the T-shirt material around me. I thought, “I can make a stained glass T-shirt quilt!” This thought came about a day before we left. Not enough time to do more than make the 12” small sample top you see here.

My sample was so fun. I couldn’t wait to get home and try it out. This was all right before New Year’s. It would have to wait. But, I would not totally wait. 

I spent my trip collecting T-shirts. I would go anywhere and do anything as long as there was the possibility of a T-shirt. I was a gift shop junky! I ended up with 32 T-shirts. I didn’t even wear most of them! It was a blast. 

Stained Glass Video

What makes a stained glass T-shirt different?

To answer that questions, we have to ask, “different than what?” There are four main styles of T-shirts quilts. Here are the different types and how a stained glass quilt is different.

This infographic compares 4 types of T-shirt quilts. You can quickly see the difference between all 4 styles here.

The difference between“leading" and sashing.

Stained glass T-shirt quilt close upThere are some quilt makers who will claim the leading is no different than sashing. You can see the blue sashing in the "traditional with sashing quilt."  But they are very different.

The sashing in the traditional quilt is simply to separate the rows and columns. But it will never give that quilt the looks of a stained glass window. It looks more like a spread sheet!

Whereas in the Stained glass quilt, the black fabric is there to act as the leading. Sure, it separates the block, but that’s not its purpose. Its purpose is to make the quilt look like a stained glass window.

The difference between Leading and Piping.

(Sounds like we are plumbers!) Too Cool T-shirt Quilts offers an option of adding of piping around special blocks. This will help set one block apart from the rest. Read more about piping here. 

Piping on a centered blockThere is a difference between leading and piping. Piping is a thin piece of folded fabric that is sewn around a block. This fabric is only sewn in on one side. So it is a texture on the quilt. See the close-up photo here. In the Too Cool style quilt in the graphic, the center white block has piping. It there to make one block stand out.

Again, the leading is different. The leading is part of the quilt top. It does not extend above the surface of quilt. Rather, it is a piece like any of the T-shirt blocks.

Level of Difficulty

The difficulty level of a stained glass quilt is off the chart! Let’s go back to the graphic above. The level of difficulty for each style of quilt on a scale of 1 to 10 is as follows:

  • Stained Glass T-shirt Quilt - Close upStained glass Quilt - 15
  • Too Cool or Puzzle Style - 10
  • Traditional with Sashing - 4
  • Traditional without Sashing - 1 

I have been making T-shirt quilts since 1992. And not just a few each year. Last year we made over 1300! That equates to a lot of experience!

This stained glass quilt was a challenge for me. In my mind, that says, this is not easy. I had to redo a lot of seams. It’s easy to sew in little puckers. Sewing stretchy T-shirt to cotton take experience and care. The T-shirt likes to stretch and the cotton doesn’t. They don’t play well together. There was also a lot of planning and figuring while I was sewing. It’s not for beginners! 

For those of you who are quilters, remember we are not using iron-on backing or interfacing on the back of the T-shirts. Could you do this without interfacing? It will be tricky!

If you are looking for a quilt maker to do this for you, choose carefully. I wouldn’t let the experiment with my T-shirts. Ask to see an example of their work. Ask if they use iron on backing (it makes your quilt stiff!) Read more about finding a quilt maker here. 

This is a new twist on the T-shirt quilt.  It will be awhile before you begin to see a lot of this style of quilt.

Pink Stained Glass T-shirt quilt - Too Cool!

Other thoughts and Information about stained glass T-shirt Quilts 

What type of T-shirts would lend themselves to be made into a stained glass quilt?

In the quilt I made, you will notice the T-shirts are very colorful. I thought about this as I purchased my T-shirts. There were a few T-shirts I wanted which only came in black. I think they work in the quilt when they were next to colorful T-shirts.

If your a pile of T-shirts is very dark or only has a few colors, we would need to consider the color of the leading. For example, this quilt had darker T-shirts. So we used a pink leading which made the T-shirts pop!

We envision making mono-colored quilts using this method. For example, imagine a quilt made with just black T-shirts. If we used a colored leading, it could be striking.  I am thinking a Harley-Davidson quilt with orange leading.

HarleyDavidson Stained glass T-shirt Quilt

If you are interested in a stained glass quilt, we will work with you before we cut your T-shirts. If we don’t think that your T-shirts are a good candidate, we will let you know.

Once A Quilt Has Begun…

Once we have started a T-shirt quilt in the stained glass style or our Too Cool style, we can’t change to the other style. The two quilts styles are cut differently. Once we begin your quilt, it has to be finished in the style it was begun in.

This method is not available for tech fabric shirts. Read more about tech fabric here. 

Pricing of a Stained Glass Quilt

Very, very expensive. Why? They are difficult to make. But, if your budget allows it, and your T-shirts are right for the style, you will have a T-shirt quilt that will knock your socks off!

I have seen 1000’s of T-shirts. Yet, I keep pulling this new stained glass quilt out and just marveling at it. I have never been so excited to see a quilt finished. 

I am not sure where I will hang it here at the shop in Charlotte. I would love to hang it in my office and enjoy it all the time. But, that might a bit selfish on my part. It probably should hang in the main section of the shop. We will see! 

Stained Glass T-shirt Quilt Pricing

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

Stained glass Sept 19-1

Stained glass T-shirt quilts are awesome!

Close up of a stained glass 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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