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10 Secrets to Sewing T-Shirt Quilts
T-shirt quilts are incredibly popular and a great way to create a quilted keepsake. Joanna Burgarin, the editor of Quilts & More, shares ten tips for sewing T-shirt quilts, starting with the planning and ending with the quilting. If you’ve ever wanted to try making a T-shirt quilt, use these to help you get started! (See a video of sewing T-shirt quilts and a video for finishing T-shirt quilts here.)
1. Use a graph paper to plan your quilt top. Shirt sizes and logo sizes vary, so the graph paper can help you plan space for each T-shirt. Make a scale so that each square of graph paper equals a standard number of inches.
2. If you want all your blocks the same size, consider adding sashing to odd-shape designs to make them square. If the sashing you use is quilting cotton, prewash it before sewing it to the T-shirts so that it doesn’t shrink. Or combine small T-shirt designs together to make a larger unit to add into your quilt.
3. Deconstruct T-shirts by cutting along the T-shirts seams with a scissors or rotary cutter. That way you can use both the front and back of the shirt in your quilt.
4. Use an iron-on stabilizer to control a T-shirt’s stretching while you’re cutting and sewing. For iron-on stabilizers, look for a featherweight, lightweight, or sheer stabilizer to keep T-shirts pliable. You can also use a spray stabilizer, which can be helpful if there are plastic motifs on the shirt that might be hard to iron.
5. Press T-shirts from the back side or use a pressing cloth to press the front. This prevents the T-shirts designs from melting and protects your iron from the design’s ink.
6. When sewing, use a jersey needle and 100% cotton thread. The jersey needle has a rounded point that penetrates between threads instead of piecing them. Using this type of needle helps prevent tension issues or skipped stitches.
7. When you can, consider ironing your quilt’s seams open to avoid extra blk while quilting.
8. Make sure to prewash your backing fabric. Because T-shirts have generally been washed and dried many times and will not shrink, washing your backing fabric before quilting will keep your quilt from looking too puckered. (Because of this, you’ll want to purchase slightly more fabric to account for any shrinkage.)
9. There are a few things to consider when choosing batting. T-shirts can be heavy, so a thin 100% cotton batting will keep weight down if that’s a concern. Check the batting label to see how densely you need to machine-quilt your quilt. If you won’t be quilting larger areas of the quilt due to logos and t-shirt designs, you want to make sure your batting type supports that (most battings call for stitches 4-10” apart, so choose accordingly).
10. If you’re using T-shirts in a variety of colors, consider using a cream or gray thread to machine-quilt, which will blend in with all colors of fabric.
BTS from the Crafts Lab
Joanna and Lindsay share behind-the-scenes at the office. Quilts & More Fall 2019 (on sale July 26) just came out and it's full of fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving projects. It's also the first "reader" issue, so grab it on newsstands to see photos, tips, and fave products submitted by our readers. And our Summer Sewing video series starts August 7. Join in each Wednesday in August on Facebook and YouTube to see quick and easy projects to sew this summer.
Quilting Changes Everything with Alison
On this segment, where we share stories of quilters making a difference in their communities, Alison tells the story of the Catskilled Crafters, a group that got together to make a quilt using old neckties. The ties were pieced into hexagons using English Paper Piecing to make a quilt called The Ties That Bind that's now on display at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore until September 1, 2019. The project became a therapeutic experience for many of the members, who were piecing ties from loved ones who had passed away. (Original article here.) She also shares the story of Victoria Williams, a 98-year-old who is making dresses for girls in orphanages in Guatemala. (Original article here.)
Getting Sewcial with Jess
On today's show, Jess Zeigler of Threaded Quilting Studio chats with Rachael Dorr, a textile artist who creates rich textures using recycled materials and a longarm quilting machine. Rachael is a member of the Manhattan Quilters Guild and is the New York and New Jersey representative for the Surface Design Association. She's also the force behind Quilting a Memory, a charity dedicated to providing free quilting services to the families of lost or fallen U.S. service men and women. Rachael collects their clothing and uniforms, deconstructs them, then pieces them back together into quilts that are beautiful works of art and full of memories. In her interview, Rachael shares more about the process of turning clothes into treasured gifts, including her favorite types of interfacing, which include Pellon 906F, Pellon Tricot, Touch O’Gold. Rachael's work is simply stunning and is treasured by all those grieving loved ones.
Reader Tips with Lindsay
Lindsay shared your best advice to common quilting struggles. This episode, we explore design walls -- everything from building your own to where to place it in your sewing space. If you're interested in submitting your own tip for feature in our magazines or on the podcast, send an email of your tip to APQTips@meredith.com.