Using old T-shirts to make a unique quilt is a great recycling project. Everyone will want to contribute to such a project and when it is complete, they will be able to point out T-shirts that once belonged to them and perhaps relate a story associated with each one. Collecting T-shirts from family members and having each one sign his/her name is a wonderful way of creating a family quilt that can be displayed with pride and passed down through the generations.
Cotton T-shirts are best for use in making quilts. This is because this material is long-lasting and has been worn for a long time. The reason for discarding such T-shirts is usually because they have become too small or have stains that cannot be washed out. There may be tears that can be sewn or patched or even ones that make the clothing unwearable but cannot be seen when used in a quilt.
To start making a quilt from old T-shirts, choose the ones you want to use based on color or theme. You will need about twenty t-shirts to make an average size quilt. Cut out squares from the T-shirts and stabilize the material so that it will not stretch when you sew the pieces together. You can cut the T-shirts into different size shapes to make a crazy quilt by sewing them together haphazardly.
Once you sew all the pieces of the T-shirts together to make the top of the quilt you need a piece of material that matches the full size of the quilt. Generally you need 2.5 yards of material for the back of the quilt, which you will need to sew together in panels to fit the size you need. You can also continue to use the T-shirts for the other side of the quilt and in this way you can have one that is reversible.
Batting in between the layers gives the quilt a sense of fullness, but you can also use a cotton sheet or a blanket for warmth. Lay the layers together with the right sides facing and place the material you choose for the center on top of the layer facing you with the wrong side out. Mark lines from the top to the bottom and use these lines as your guide for pinning the material together. You will need a large space for this, such as on the floor of the living room. You should also have an iron handy to iron out the material to keep it from bunching as you insert the pins.
Once you have all the pins in place, start sewing along the lines on which you placed the pins. It would be a good idea to turn the quilt right side out and sew in the seams of the squares or patches so that you won’t have extra seams in the finished product.
To finish off the quilt made from old T-shirts you can make a border of plain colored fabric or uses remaining T-shirt pieces to sew together a border of about two inches in width. You can then sew this to the sides of the quilt and turn in the edges. You will be able to sew both edges with a sewing machine, but for a neater look it is best to sew the second edge by hand.