How to Make a TShirt Quilt: Finishing

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We have gathered, prepped and stitched our favorite tees into this amazing story…. Now what? Well, it is time to add  the batting, some simple quilting stitches, and attach our backing fabric.

Did you miss the beginning of this series? Click here for Part 1 – Materials & Cutting. Then click here for Part 2 – Assembling the Quilt Top. Then get ready come back here and put it all together in part 3!

Mini Series.  Learn how to make a tshirt quilt on The Sewing Loft

This project is for all levels.

Skill Level- 1 1/2 Buttons

For today’s “how to” you will need your quilt top, batting, backing fabric, sewing machine and ironing tools.

Finishing touches for How to Make a TShirt Quilt


1. For the best possible finished outlook it is critical to press your quilt top before you add the batting.  Please do not skip this step.
Tip: Always press your tee shirts from the back side and use a pressing cloth. This will prevent decal from melting to your iron. If something melts to your iron, let it cool and apply iron off.
2. Find your big, flat, open area of floor again and roll out your batting.  Depending on the type of batting you purchased there might be a right and wrong side.  (If one side has many loose “fluffs” that would be what I call the “wrong” side.)  You will want to match that to the wrong side of your quilt top.  This will make the machine stitching later much easier and prevent fewer fibers from getting caught in your machine.  Center your quilt top on the batting and make sure that your blocks are lined up straight; pin in place.  These pins are to help keep everything stable when working on such a large project.  You can use long straight pins, quilter’s pins (like bent safety pins), or even spray basting.
Mini Series. Learn how to make a tshirt quilt on The Sewing Loft
3. Once everything is lined up, pick the blocks that you would like to highlight with top stitching.  I like to pick the center box of squares and stitch every other block. Using my standard straight stitch, I stitch all around the inside of the block.  Feel free to get creative here and play with your decorative machine stitches.
Learn how to make a tee shirt quilt on The Sewing Loft*This part can be tricky: you need to roll, twist and wiggle your quilt top through the well of your machine.  The photo does not clearly show it but the topper is twisted and tucked inside the machine, over my shoulder and hanging off a table.
Finishing touches for a tshirt quilt.  Learn all the steps on The Sewing Loft.
4. After all of your selected blocks are stitched, it’s time to add the backing fabric.  Depending on the finished size of your quilt you may need to piece your back.  But one thing is for certain- your backing fabric must be washed!  Trust me, it is not an option to skip this step.  Remember, the quilt top fabrics have all been washed many times and mostly likely will not shrink.  But if you are using flannel (my fabric of choice) it will shrink!
5. Lay out your quilt top with the batting stitched to it on the floor again, with the right side facing up. Position the backing fabric on top of that, with the right side of the backing fabric facing down. Pin your layers in place, then stitch a straight stitch all around the perimeter, leaving an opening to turn the quilt right side out. Clip corners.
Mini Series. Learn how to make a tshirt quilt on The Sewing Loft
6. Press! Fold under the seam allowance of the turning area; press; edge stitch closed.
Tip: Use your pressing cloth around any decals to prevent melting!
7. Now, you can add all around stitching to finish it off. Use a straight stitch, a zigzag, or a decorative stitch all around the edge of your quilt top.
8. I like to go back and use my button attaching stitch to join all layers. I do this between every other block; it helps to keep all the layers together and reduce shifting inside the quilt sandwich. If you don’t want to do this, you could also use tied stitches by hand instead, or hand-sew buttons in place at the corners where the blocks meet.
Learn how to make a tee shirt quilt on The Sewing Loft
I know this is a lot of work but in the end, it is so worth it.  Just take your time, and enjoy the process of making a memory into a quilt!
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  1. Thank you I’m going to be making one for my Brother-in-law but as a quillow, since he’s in Las Vegas and I’m in Metro Detroit, I can’t get his actual t-shirts, but I am going to try to get some of his high school and College to add to it, plus some from the resale stores of things he likes.

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