Transform Those Too Many T-Shirts

Quilt made of summer reading t-shirtsHave you collected a lot of t-shirts from places you’ve visited or activities in which you have participated? I buy a library Summer Reading program t-shirt every year. My husband was involved in Boy Scouts for many years with our sons. We both have a large stash of shirts from various activities that we hate to throw away, but we no longer wear them and they take up valuable storage space (see my spring cleaning article on this very topic)! I was excited when I found “T-Shirt Quilts Made Easy” by Martha DeLeonardis. It has great ideas on turning those t-shirts into quilts. Unfortunately, it assumes you have some basic quilting knowledge. I love to sew, but the only quilt I’d made is a baby quilt, so I had to consult the basic quilting book “The Ultimate Quilting Bible” by Marie Clayton.

I decided to start with a throw-size quilt for my husband. I cut up his Boy Scout t-shirts along with printed fabrics that seemed appropriate – pumpkins (the Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival), fish (the outdoors) and children. I put the blocks together then tried to quilt it on a regular sewing machine. It didn’t work well. The book recommended having the quilting done professionally, and I have to agree. Fortunately. I found someone to do it, and the project was done in time for Father’s Day. With this success I was ready to tackle a bigger quilt for myself.

quilt made of summer reading t-shirtsFor my quilt of Summer Reading t-shirts I cut each t-shirt into 12 inch squares. Then I added book-related fabrics that were leftover from other projects. The fabrics feature characters from: “The Wizard of Oz“; “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland“; “The Cat in the Hat” and other Dr. Seuss stories; Eric Carle’s illustrations in Bill Martin’s “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?“; and fairy tales. I added black fabric adorned with colorful musical notes because we often use music in story times. I made a black border that includes t-shirts from activities other than Summer Reading but that are still book related. Because the t-shirts are so heavy, I decided that I would just back the quilt with flannel and not include batting. I also decided to tie it instead of quilt it. I’m pleased with the way the project turned out. I’ll be using it as a bedspread in the guest room as it fits a twin-sized bed. But from now on I think I will stick with throw-sized quilts. My husband’s quilt was somewhat easier to work with than mine.

For those who don’t want to make a whole quilt, there are books and websites that show other ways to reuse t-shirts:

So don’t throw those old t-shirts away. Make something out of them to remind you of those special places and events.

About Jerilyn

Jerilyn is a children's librarian at DBRL's Callaway County Public Library.
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