T-Shirt Quilts – My Process FAQ

Yesterday, while waiting to have new tires installed on my SUV, I finalized the design of a t-shirt quilt and conducted an initial phone consult with another customer. Pleased to say that after 4 years in business, I finally received a local referral from someone completely unrelated to family, friends or school/work. The person’s name she gave as the one who gave her my contact information didn’t even ring a bell.  That made my day!

Basically, the process goes something like this:

  1. Decide which t-shirts you want to use in the quilt.
  2. Launder your t-shirts as usual, but do not use fabric softener.
  3. Indicate which side of the t-shirt you want used in the quilt.
  4. Think about colors you might want to use for borders & sashing. Most customers let me choose, but blue and gray are very popular.
  5. Make arrangements to get the t-shirts to me (local pickup or ship).
  6. Pay a $100 deposit.That’s all you have to do. I do the rest. 

    Lead times vary, depending on my day job and how busy I am with other quilts in the queue. I have completed a twin-size in as little as 3 weeks (around a full-time job). Lead times during busy season (like right now with graduation) might be 8-12 weeks.

    Final price depends on number of t-shirts, size of quilt, extended borders, photo blocks, pieced blocks, etc. I can give you an estimate when you first contact me; however, the final price will be determined once I see your items.

    I will send you updates periodically during the process. If you have a firm deadline, please communicate this at the very beginning. Once completed, I will send you a photo of the quilt and we will make delivery arrangements at that time.  Any balance due must be paid before I ship the quilt. Local customers can pay at pick-up.

    Then, enjoy your fabulous new quilt and wrap yourself up in memories!


Memory Quilt


This t-shirt quilt was made for a customer whose father passed away in April.  Although Dad had several t-shirts, she selected the ones that meant the most to her.  My favorite t-shirt is the one she made her Dad featuring photos of the two of them.  (It’s top row, middle block).  The center block includes an English translation of a special verse from his funeral program.  I used a stylized Old English font and printed it on Electric Quilt’s printable fabric. The verse was then framed with cornerstone and outer border fabric.


Blocks on this quilt are 15″ and quilted in a wave pattern to mimic the sashing fabric. Most of my quilts call for a solid-color sashing.  This customer wanted to select her own fabrics. She prefers brown tones and loves batik fabrics, so we met at a local quilt shop to find the just right fabrics.  I think her selections work quite nicely.  That’s the beauty of a custom quilt – you can make it your own.

Interfacing for T-Shirt Quilts

November 2015 update:  I now use Pellon SF-101 interfacing almost exclusively in my baby and t-shirt quilts. Why? It’s 100% cotton, made in the USA and works well with my steam press.  My customers are pleased with the finished result. To keep costs reasonable, I buy it by the bolt when it goes on sale. 

[Original post follows]

A couple of my local quilt shops carry a 100% cotton woven fusible interfacing that they swear is the best thing for constructing t-shirt quilts.  When one is accustomed to paying $1.50 – $2.00/yard for non-woven Pellon interfacing on sale at the big box craft stores, it is a bit daunting to see $6.59 to $7.99/yard retail on the fusible woven interfacing carried by the LQS.  I bought 2 yards of Bosal Fashion Fuse to experiment with.  It was a pleasure to work with.  I swallowed hard and went back to buy 3 more yards to complete a small lap-size quilt.

The product I used is an apparel interfacing, so I knew that Pellon and HTC had to make something similar.  A little online searching under the apparel sewing blogs yielded the information I sought. Bingo!  Pellon’s Shape-Flex (SF-101) is also a 100% cotton woven fusible interfacing made here in the USA.  Similar in price, but carried at the big box craft stores where one can use a coupon (or a teacher discount if the item is already on sale) to bring the price per yard down to what I consider reasonable.

I had to buy some Pellon SF-101 to complete my project since the quilt shop is closed until Tuesday.  It’s very similar to the Bosal interfacing in hand and drape, but appears to have a little more fusible on the back side, requiring a little more pressure and time to get it to “stick” than the Bosal interfacing.

There is no one best interfacing for t-shirt quilts.  It depends on the type of quilt and how soft you want it to be.  Some people do not interface the backs of their t-shirts.  This is a personal choice.  I choose to interface mine because it makes the quilt a little sturdier and easier to machine quilt, IMHO.

If you want a super-soft, drapey quilt, try Pellon 906 nonwoven fusible interfacing with a bamboo blend batting.

For most t-shirt quilts, a fusible knit or 100% cotton woven fusible interfacing is a great choice with a cotton or cotton-blend batting.

If you like things a little stiffer, then try Pellon 911 nonwoven fusible interfacing.  Use a cotton or poly batting.  I use the Pellon 911 with flimsy knit t-shirts – even if I’m using the 100% cotton fusible on the rest of the shirts.  I also use the Pellon 911 on wall hangings.  It increases the sturdiness factor.  The Missouri Quilt Company mentions this specific interfacing in its t-shirt quilt construction video.

The bottom line:  I already have bolts of Pellon 906FF and 911FF on hand.  I will be adding a bolt of the SF-101 to my stash when I see it 50% off.

You might wonder why the price of interfacing is such a concern?  Consider that it takes 1/3 to 1/2 yard of interfacing per t-shirt.  I went through about 15 yards of interfacing on a full-size mosaic t-shirt quilt (or my version of the Tool Cool T-Shirt quilt).

The Math:
Fashion Fuse 15 yards @ 6.59/yard = $98.85

Pellon SF-101 15 yards on sale @ $2.75/yard = $41.85 (regular retail is $5.49/yard)

The Pellon 911FF averages $2.25/yard every day, so that’s even cheaper than the woven SF-101 on sale.  When it is on sale, that same 15 yards of interfacing costs less than $20.00.

Bottom line:  The project, the recipient and your budget dictate the type of interfacing that you chose.  By careful shopping and brand substitution, you can save at least half on your interfacing.