Andrea Funk

By: Andrea Funk on September 30th, 2019

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What You Need to Know About a Groupon Deal for a T-shirt Quilt

Finding a T-shirt Quilt Maker

Did you find a great deal for a T-shirt quilt on Groupon or some other coupon site? Perhaps a quilt for under $150? Cool. Right? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

There are cheap T-shirt quilts and blankets and there are expensive T-shirt quilts. What’s the difference? Here are 5 differences that will let you know if you got one of the cheap ones or one of the good ones.  Here's how these differences can make your quilt a lot less expensive and what you gave up for the cost savings.

All Blocks Are the Same Size

If all the blocks in your quilt are the same size, you got a cheap quilt or blanket. If you don't know, there is a difference between a quilt and a blanket. Read more about that here. 

How this can lower the price of a quilt:

  • project repat is a blanket that is made in rows and columnsTime
    It takes a lot less time to cut all the blocks just one size. If you work with more than 10 different sizes, you have to look at each graphic and choose the right template size for the design. It may take looking at a few different sizes to choose the one that looks the best.

  • Labor
    It does not take a skilled crafter to cut one size block. Thus you can hire a person with little or no experience. This means you don't have to pay a skilled employee. There's a big difference between minimum wage and the wage you would pay an experienced quilt maker.

  • Tools 
    Only one size template is needed to cut one size blocks. You pick it up, you put it down. It's easy.

    If you use multiple size blocks, the cutter needs to manage more than 10 templates. Templates are made from clear Plexiglas. This is more difficult than you might imagine.  Being clear, the templates are good at hiding.

  • Layout 
    A layout tells the sewer where each block is placed within the quilt top. If all the blocks are the same size, there is no need to layout the quilt. The blocks are just lined up in columns and rows. You put them in a sewing order as you cut them. 

  • Sewing Time 
    The time it takes to sew a T-shirt quilt depends on the size of the quilt and its complexity. A quilt laid out in rows and columns takes 1/10 the time to sew than a puzzle style quilt. This is a big cost savings for a quilt maker who makes their quilts in rows and columns.

What you sacrificed:

  • Images Cropped Off
    Not all T-shirts have the same size images. Some are big and some are small. When you use a one-size-fits-all method, some of the images on your T-shirts will get cut off. I just hope they weren’t your favorite T-shirts.

    Compare the three photos here. The first photo shows this motorcycle graphic how it was in the T-shirts. The second photo shows how this graphic should be used in a T-shirt quilt. This is the graphic used in its entirety.

    The last photo here shows what Project Repat did with this T-shirt in one of their blankets. In the Repat blanket, the word "motorcycle" and part of the motorcycle are cropped off. 

    Which one would you like in your quilt? Read more about how a quilt style will effect how your T-shirt graphics are cut. 

    A graphic on a T-shirt before it's used in a T-shirt quiltHow a graphic should be used in a T-shirt quilt. This is the graphic used in its entirety. The photo here shows what Project Repat did with this T-shirt in one of their blankets. In the Repat blanket, the word "motorcycle" and part of the motorcycle are cropped off. 

  • This T-shirt quilt block has too much space around the design.Too Much Space Around Small Graphics
    While some of your images are cropped off, others will be left with too much space around them. This looks silly and is a waste of space. 
    The photo here shows a small graphic up in the upper right hand corner of a block. This is how Campus Quilts used this graphics in one of their T-shirt quilts. This graphic only needed a very small block. 

    So the graphic is way off center. And there was all the wasted space that could have been used use for more graphics. 

  • An Uninteresting Quilt
    Compare two styles of T-shirt quilts. Left traditional style. Right, too cool styleCheap T-shirt quilts or blankets are made in rows and columns. A puzzle style quilt is not one that can be sold for a cheap price. They are just too complex to make. 

    Quilts made in rows or columns are just not interesting to look at. Your brain quickly gets the pattern and is then on to other things. You end up spending a lot less time enjoying a quilt because you know where all the blocks are. For example: top row, third column. Boring.

    Which one would you like? The blanket on the left or the quilt on the right?

    Read more about why a modern approach to a T-shirt quilt will make your quilt more interesting.

Poor workmanship

How this can lower the price of a quilt:

  • Poor workmanship in a T-shirt quiltTime
    The less time a quilt maker spends making your quilt or blanket, the more money they make. This is simple Economics' 101: time = money.

    To make more money, a quilt maker might not take extra time to correct mistakes. So they say, “It’s good enough.” And at $150, it probably is good enough.

    With a focus on profit over quality, mistakes will not be fixed. The photo here shows an example of poor workmanship. The four corners should match perfectly. Definitely, better than this! 

  • Labor
    If you don’t expect high quality you don’t need to hire skilled employees, nor do you need to spend much time training them. This means you can hire lower priced employees.

What you sacrifice:

  • Quality
    You will be able to look at your quilt and see the mistakes. And anyone else you show the quilt to will see that the quality is low.  
  • Longevity
    A poorly made quilt or blanket will have a much shorter lifespan than a well made one. 

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


No Batting

fleece on the back of a T-shirt blanket - the two layers are not held together.We actually have a quilt made by the main player advertising on Groupon types sites.  They don’t use batting in their quilts because they are actually making blankets.

A blanket has two layers - the T-shirt part and the backing. These are not held together. See the photo here showing how the two layers are not connected.

A quilt has three layers that are held together with quilting. 

There is a big difference between a quilt and a blanket. Read more about that here.

How this can lower the price of a quilt:

  • Material Cost Savings
    If you don’t use batting, you don’t have to buy batting. This can save between $10 and $50 per quilt. You also don't have to store the batting or spend time cutting and preparing it. 

What you sacrifice:

  • You didn't buy get a quilt!
    You might have thought you were getting a quilt. But you received a blanket. Remember, a quilt has three layers and a blanket only has two. If they told you that it was a quilt, they were not telling you the truth.

No Quilting

A quilt without batting is not a quilt. And if there is no batting, there is not quilting either.

How this can lower the price of a quilt:

  • Labor
    Compare the back of a blanket with a T-shirt quiltIf you don’t have to have anyone operating a long arm quilting machine, you don't have to pay anyone to do so. This can be 4 to 10 hours of labor per quilt.

    Not just anyone can walk off the street and quilt a quilt. It takes experience, practice and talent. A long-arm quilter is not a minimum wage type of employee.

  • Equipment
    If you don't quilt your T-shirt blankets, there is not the need for a long arm-quilting machine. These machines cost about the same as a small car. They also take up a lot a real estate. More than said small car! They also take a lot of care and maintenance. 

  • Materials
    Quilting thread is not cheap. This is not a necessary expense in a blanket whereas it is in a quilt.

What you sacrifice:

  • long-arm quiltingA Quilt
    You are not getting a quilt. You are getting a blanket. 
  • Durability:
    There is nothing holding the front and the back of a blanket together. This will decrease the life span of the blanket.
  • Uniqueness
    It’s not very interesting and your blanket will look like everyone else's blanket. 

No Binding

This blanket is not bound

A cheap quilt will not be bound with a binding. You can read about the 3 types of bindings here.

The blanket or quilts you see on discount coupon sites do not have a binding. Rather, they are sewn together much like a pillow case. The good sides or right sides of the material are faced together. Next, a sewer sewn along the outer edge sewing the front to the back. They will leave a small area left open so the quilt can be turned right side out.

This is a very simple method to completing a quilt. If I had to teach second graders how to make a blanket, this is how I would teach them. 

How this can lower the price of a quilt:

  • Time
    It takes very little time to finish a quilt with this method. 
  • Labor
    A skilled crafter is not needed, so cheap labor can be used.
  • Materials
    No additional material is needed.
compare the binding of a T-shirt quilt with a blanket

What you sacrifice:

  • Quality
    The top and bottom of the quilt might not be the same size so the edges of the quilt could curl in or under. You did not get a professionally made quilt.

  • Sophistication
    This style of finishing a blanket is a visual giveaway that it's a cheap product. You have a blanket that a second grader could have finished.

Conclusion

Did you get a cheap blanket? I hope not. And if you did, I hope they weren’t your favorite T-shirts. I would have been crushed if that type of quilt had been made with my T-shirts.

If you haven’t purchased one of those quilts yet, do a little research before you click “Buy Now.”


We have written a T-shirt Quilt Buyers Guide that can help you begin your research. We encourage you to download this guide before you buy any T-shirt quilt. Know what you want your quilt to look like first!

T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide


Linda & Her 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.