Which T-shirts you include in your T-shirt quilt is important
July 5th, 2021
By Andrea Funk
6 things to consider when choosing which T-shirt to include in your quilt.
1. Color of the T-shirts.
2. The topic of the T-shirts.
3. The story the T-shirts tell.
4. The type of events included.
5. The age of the T-shirts.
6. Non T-shirt items
Choosing which T-shirts to put into your T-shirt quilt will impact what your quilt will look like. So, it's important to think about which shirts you choose for a number of reasons:
- Once a T-shirt is in your quilt, it’s not coming out!
- Some T-shirts might not belong with the rest of the T-shirts.
- If you are making a quilt for someone else, there may be a T-shirt in the group of T-shirts they may hate.
Here are a number of items to think about when choosing T-shirts for your quilt. There are no right and wrong answers. These are your T-shirts and they tell your story.
Spend some time looking at your T-shirts and make sure every T-shirt you choose to include is right.
Color of the T-shirts
There are a number of instances when the colors of your T-shirts needs to be thought about.
- When all the T-shirts but one or two are the same color. For instance we worked on a quilt last week where all the T-shirts were navy except one. It was black. Despite all the T-shirts begin dark, the black shirt stuck out. It was so bad that I asked the customer if we could remove it.
- If you were making a Monochromatic quilt and you have one T-shirt that is not in the color scheme. This will also stick out. For example in the photo here, the green T-shirt sticks out. But it was important, so it was included.
- When all your T-shirts are pastels except one. Or vise versa. And other instances when one T-shirt just scream
Here's what you can do... After you have all your T-shirts chosen, spread them out and look at them as a group. Step back and squint at the T-shirts. Is there one or two T-shirts that stand out? Does something that looks off?
If you have concerns about a T-shirt or two, please put them in a separate plastic bag with a note for us. Explain that you are unsure if these T-shirts belong. We can talk a look at them and give you some input.
Every quilt has a topic, even if that topic is just “my life.” Other quilts have a very specific topic and any T-shirt which is not that topic, should be removed.
For example if you are making a Harley Davidson T-shirt Quilt and have one Hard Rock Café T-shirt, you need to think carefully about that one T-shirt. That one T-shirt will stand out as wrong. Someone looking at your quilt might not know what's wrong, but they will get a feeling that some is wrong.
In the quilt here, all T-shirts are on the topic of Texas.
Go through your pile of T-shirts and make sure they are all on topic.
T-shirt quilts tell a story. Look at your T-shirts and make sure that they all are part of that story. If a T-shirt is not part of the story, you should consider removing it from the pile of T-shirts for your quilt.
For example, if you have T-shirts from your child’s life and in that stack of T-shirts is a shirt that belongs to someone else in the family, this shirt should be removed.
Double check that the T-shirts you plan to out in your quilt belong to and help tell the story.
Types of Event
When we talk about an event, we are talking about races, concerts, plays, walks, and any other type of organized events.
If you are a runner and want a T-shirt quilt made from your running T-shirts, make sure that all the T-shirts are from running events.
If you have 30 T-shirts from 5k's and one from a softball team, the T-shirt from the softball team just doesn’t belong and should be removed from that grouping of T-shirts.
Age of the T-shirt
This is not about how old a T-shirt is. It is about how old T-shirts are in relationship to one another. It's more about a time period than the actual age of a T-shirt.
For example, if all of your T-shirts are from 80 rock and roll bands except for one T-shirt that is from a 2019 folk fest, you might want to pull out that folk fest T-shirt because it just does not belong.
Note: we can use very old T-shirts - so don't let the actual age of a T-shirts keep you from using it in your quilt.
Non T-shirt Items
Not all your T-shirts need to be T-shirts. Things that can be used in a T-shirt quilt are anything that can be washed in a washing machine. For examples, sweatshirts, Jerseys and nylon coats. Again, any item you choose should further the story the quilt tells!
We have used a wide variety of things in a T-shirt quilt that are not T-shirts. But each item we use helps tell the story.
Below is a quilt we made from dance costumes.
To learn more about having a quilt made from your T-shirts, download our free T-shirt Quilt Buyer's Guide.
It's a great place to learn about the different styles and quality of T-shirt quilt.
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.