Finding a T-shirt Quilt Maker

Five Important Questions to ask your T-shirt Quilt Maker

If you have been saving your t-shirts, then they probably mean a lot to you. That is why it is important to make the right decision when choosing a t-shirt quilt maker. Your t-shirts represent memories that should be preserved so this task should not be taken lightly. The construction of your t-shirt quilt can determine if your t-shirt quilt will last a mere few years or for generations to come.

NOTE: All the pictures below are examples of before and after t-shirt quilts from customers that had their quilts re-made for different reasons (here at Minnesota T-shirt Quilts, we call them “rescue” quilts). Please take the time to read this important information before you decide on your t-shirt quilt maker and how your quilt is constructed.

1. What T-shirt Quilt Style Do You Make?

The first thing you will want to consider is the quilt style. There are two standard t-shirt quilt designs.  The most common is when all your t-shirt blocks are cut the exact same size.  So, for example, all your t-shirt logos will be cut into 12 x 12 inch blocks.  Some people like the structured look this style provides. However, one disadvantage of this style is that, because all the blocks are cut the same size, parts of the logos may be cut off if the logo is larger than the block size. Conversely, you may have a very small logo and have a lot of unnecessary wasted space. If you prefer this style you may want to ask the quilter if they can center the logos when they cut the block. Many times logos are not centered and this can result in a less appealing design. With this style you are also limited in the number of shirts you can include in your quilt.  To make a queen-size t-shirt quilt in this style, you could only use 25 of your favorite t-shirts where as a mosaic-style queen-size quilt, allows you to use 50-60 t-shirts.

The second t-shirt quilt style is where the blocks are cut to the appropriate size for the logo.  This allows more t-shirts to be used in your quilt.  This quilt style is sometimes called mosaic or puzzle style t-shirt quilts.  This is the style we make at Minnesota T-shirt Quilts and it is my absolute favorite.  Whichever style you pick is your personal preference, but how they are constructed makes the difference in the quilt’s longevity. Make sure to ask, “What style t-shirt quilt design do you use?”

2. Do You Make a T-shirt Quilt or T-shirt Blanket?

Are you hoping to have a quilt or a blanket made? This is important, as this is a major determining factor in the life of your quilt. So what is the difference? A quilt is what you think of when you think of “grandma’s quilt”. This is where there is a top fabric layer, a middle insulating batting layer, and a fabric-backing layer.  There are three layers to a quilt and they are “quilted” or stitched together. Many of the less expensive T-shirt quilt makers are actually making blankets. Remember those fleece tie blankets that were so popular?  There is not a layer in between and they are not stitched together- that is an example of a blanket. Quilting or stitching the layers of fabric helps to stabilize the fabric for a quilt. This limits the amount of stretching that can distort or cause wear and tear on your quilt.

 3. How Is Your T-shirt Quilt Connected Between the Layers? 

Now, if you have chosen to have a quilt made, you will want to know how the quilt maker connects the three layers together. This is important to prevent the middle layer from shifting and to stabilize the fabric from stretching.  The best way to connect the three layers of t-shirts, batting and fabric is to quilt using a long-arm quilt machine. This is critical to prevent stretching out of the t-shirt fabric as you use your quilt. Long- arm quilting is performed using a large professional machine that is typically 14 feet long, which sews and secures your layers together.  Some long-arm quilters use a computerized, all-over design for your quilt, and some may “free hand” random designs across the quilt.

Be cautious: some quilt-makers simply tie the quilt layers together using a short strand of yarn, tying random knots through all three layers around the quilt. Many times this single yarn knot stretches and creates a bigger hole in your t-shirts, causing them to wear with time. Long- arm quilting is the best way to secure your quilt layers together and ensure your quilt will last for generations.

4. How Many T-shirt Quilts have you Made?

It may appear like an easy project, but I can tell you that even some of the best traditional quilters have no desire to make t-shirt quilts because of the stretchy fabric and the challenge this type of material provides.  Please be cautious of having a friendly neighbor take on this task for you. I have had many customers tell me nightmares and sad stories after letting a friend or acquaintance take on this task. Not only may it take them months to complete, but you may also be disappointed in the outcome. Just be careful. Here are before and after pictures of a t-shirt quilt. The young man who ordered this quilt was heartbroken when he noticed all his logos were partially cut off, even his favorite shirt as a young child, the SAM I AM shirt in the center of the quilt. He was not particularly thrilled with the flaming fabric as well. Customers are sometimes heartbroken to the point that we are hired to deconstruct the original t-shirt quilt and make a whole new one.  We call these “rescue quilts.” If your t-shirts have special meaning to you, do your research before hiring a quilt maker.

5. How long will it take to Make a T-shirt Quilt?

This question may help you to determine if that person is really the best choice for making your quilt.  The average length of time it takes to make a t-shirt quilt is 4-8 weeks.  If you are being told 6 months or even one year, be cautious of the quilt makers experience.

Whether Minnesota T-shirt Quilts makes your quilt or someone else does, I would hate for anyone to be disappointed in the outcome of their quilt. If those t-shirts are important to you, then you want that quilt to last for generations!  Make sure your quilter has experience with t-shirts, and you are getting a quilt with three layers. Also, be sure it is quilted on a professional long-arm quilt machine. These are the most important things to consider when choosing your t-shirt quilt maker. We at Minnesota T-shirt Quilts would love to be your quilt maker!