Everything You Need to Know About Using Pockets In a T-shirt Quilt
It was my second or third year of making T-shirt quilts when I first used a breast pocket from a T-shirt in a quilt. It was a huge hit.
When we show quilts at various events, a pocket in a display quilt is one of the most commented on items. We have heard all sorts of ideas as to what you could put in a pocket in a quilt on your bed; the remote, a cell phone, a condom, snacks, glasses and even your dentures.
People also like to see a pocket in a quilt because it affirms that yes, these are actual T-shirts.
What follows is what I have learned about using pockets in T-shirts quilts.
Typical Types of Pockets
There are three typical types of pocket configurations we see.
- First is the pocket with the logo or graphic printed above the pocket. We have found the best way to use this style of logo/pocket combination is to include the pocket.
If you choose not to use the pocket, yet you want the logo, it will be tricky. We first have to cut around the logo. The logo is then mounted on another piece of fabric from that T-shirt. The logo is then stitched down. It never looks as good as just including the pocket.
- We also see pockets that have the logo printed right on the pocket. The best way to use this style is to include the entire pocket.
If you choose not to use the pocket, but just want the logo, you will get an odd looking block. Part of the pocket will show and part will be cut off. We like to try to avoid this look because it’s silly.
- We also have included front and back pockets of blue jeans, pockets from sweatpants, bicycle jersey pockets and any other pocket we come across because they add a fun element to a quilt.
Where We See the Most Pockets
There are four typical groups of people who seem to have the most pockets on their T-shirts:
- Many Harley-Davidson T-shirts will have pockets on them. On these T-shirts, there is a large design on the back and a small logo above or on the actual pocket.
- Sorority T-shirts have more pockets than any other group of T-shirts we see. I have seen a group of sorority T-shirts in which 3 out of 4 T-shirts had pockets.
- Memorial quilts made from dress shirts of flannel shirts will also have pockets. Here's a link to our memorial quilt resource page.
- Quilts made from scrubs will also include a lot of pockets. You can read more about having a quilt made from your scrubs here.
Why Use a Pocket in Your Quilt?
- You have a number of them within your stack of T-shirts.
- To use some designs on or over a pocket without including the pocket will look silly.
- Because they are just fun and add interest to your quilt.
Why Not Use a Pocket in Your Quilt?
- You don’t like the look of a pocket.
- You have too many T-shirts and need to cut each logo out without any extra margin.
- The pocket is falling off the T-shirt and looks bad.
We actively collect pocket T-shirts at garage sales or from resale shops to use as filler blocks in quilts. These pocket T-shirts don’t have any logo or design on them. They are just color on color pockets. There are times when the mathematics of a quilt doesn’t equal the square inches of the blocks. In these cases, we have to add blank fillers into the quilt to make the numbers work out. If the design works out, we may check with you to see if we can add a pocket block in this spot.
Unique Use of Pockets
In this quilt here, we used pocket T-shirts for the top and bottom borders. This sorority quilt has 31 pockets! These pockets had the logo printed on the actual pocket and not above the pocket. We choose to create a quasi border for the quilt. We didn't have enough pockets to go around the entire quilt. But we did have enough to make a top and bottom border.
A number of years ago we made a quilt with pockets. I had planned to use the quilt myself or to hang it in the shop. But, that never happened. Somehow the quilt was relegated for Edgar the dog to use in the car. It’s had a rough life, but Edgar likes it. You can see Edgar on this quilt at the bottom of the page.
We love using pockets in quilts. We feel they had a bit of play to the quilt. If you have pocket T-shirts, we hope you choose to include the pockets. But if you won't want to, please X out the pocket with blue painters tape. You can read about how to make your T-shirts here.
If you would like to learn more about having a quilt made from your T-shirts, consider downloading our T-shirt Quilt Buyer’s Guide. It’s a great resource as you begin your search for a T-shirt quilt maker.