Turning T-Shirts into Usable Fabric


T-Shirt Quilting: Warm Up With Your Life Story


Lesson Info

Turning T-Shirts into Usable Fabric

I want to give you just the very tiniest intro to me j k I was already done a bang up job, so I don't need to say much I did author three quilt books and for those of you who happened to follow me online somewhere and have been listening to me refer excitedly to my forthcoming book for the last year there's your world premiere sneak peek at the new cover there on the right just just really exciting I actually am quilting focus these days, but I've always been kind of a nominee crafter and interestingly, I came to quilting very, very slowly because I am a pretty loose crafter and I'm not very good at math and I'm not a big fan of measuring things precisely, so I always felt like I was an adequate for quilting in a way I was felt like quilting sort of comes with a police force that's always watching you and trying to make sure that you get those points to match up just right and that your seems they're perfectly straight and that's just not my bag anyway. And it was when I co authored th...

e middle book they're quoting happiness that my attitude toward this craft started to transform I worked with the super talented quilter named christina lane and she did all the quilting content for the book and the stuff that I did was really essays and quizzes and things to help people explore why they loved quilting and in the process of writing that stuff I really came to love quilting more myself and more importantly I came to see that I could take this craft and I could make it work for me I could develop ways to make quilts that would be a sluice as I am third craft and since then I've been making quotes like crazy and I love it so that's the philosophy under which I'm going to teach you a t shirt quilting today the way I got into t shirt quoting was really through my partner keeton when he and I moved in together he brought with him really very surprising number of t shirts which he proceeded to fill our entire closet all of the shelves all of the space and I noticed over time that he wasn't actually wearing most of these and so one day I asked him well, hey honey what's up with all these shirts and he said, yeah, I have those I don't wear them though there too worn out they've shrunk I don't really use them and I thought, well what if we took him to the goodwill since you're not actually using them any kind of clutched his heart like I stabbed him and said, oh no, I could never get rid of these shirts they're my life they're like a scrapbook for me and he proceeded to get them out, and he started showing me here's, a shirt from a tech company I used to work for back in silicon valley days and here's that shirt from a conference that I attended that was really important to my career and here's, a shirt from my favorite tiki bar and here's a shirt from the day I got to tour the industrial light magic offices, and so I could really sees he was spreading these all out, that they were a hugely important artifact of his life story. But I still really wanted that closet shelf space, so I decided that I would make something out of these shirts that would allow him to enjoy them and keep them out, not have them stacked up in a closet somewhere, and that way they could be. This could be a scrapbook, and they could be something he could really be within his day to day life. And once I made my first t shirt quote, I was really hooked because t shirt quilting is such a different animal than what I'll call regular quilting, which is the more traditional form with the woven fabrics and the more complex designs and the type of quotes you're used to seeing. T shirt quilting is incredibly forgiving, and the great thing about it is it it's his looses I am it doesn't require a lot of precision measuring it doesn't require super straight seems if you're a beginner at sewing or quilting you're going to be able to make a beautiful t shirt quilt with no problem at all we have a couple here a couple students in the studio who are newer to sewing don't even worry about it life is good you're going to be fine I do like to teach quilting for t shirts in particular with a couple things in mind one is that we're not going to start with any kind of a set pattern for these quilts the thing about t shirts is every one of you in the studio brought a pile of t shirts with you each of you has a different number of shirts each of these shirts they're different sizes the graphics on the shirts or different sizes like the world of t shirts is a world of variables so what you have to do is start with your own stack of shirts and then see what's in them what story do they want to tell what design did they want to reveal and so that's the way I'm going to approach quilting everyone of our quilts is going to come out looking radically different each quote I'm a comes out looking radically different and it's just because the shirts have their own things to say so we're going to have a lot of fun with that design process today. In fact, the other thing that I want to share with you is just my philosophy on quoting which is please don't worry about it too much there's no reason you have to be perfectly precise on any stage of this I will show you all the tricks you need to be as precise as you need to be to get away with making a quilt are any of the four of you would you consider yourselves perfectionists? No that's good okay, we'll work on that that's good that's a very fine distinction. I like that very much so a quick overview of how our two days together is going to look then today we really are going toe focus on getting those shirts of yours cut apart and made into nice quote blocks and we're going to spend quite a bit of time on this design process of revealing what your shirts have to say. We'll do a tiny bit of sewing at the end of today and when we come back tomorrow that's when we're going to work on all of this specific processes of quilt making, the things that never change from quote to quell, we're going to learn how to make a quilt sandwich we're going to learn howto based it we're going to learn several ways to quilt that sandwich we're going to learn how to add a binding, and then I'm even going to show you a quicker alternate way to finish a quilt where you don't have to make a binding so you'll get the entire process from start to finish now that said eyes, any of us actually going to finish a quilt in two days? And the answer to that is no, it takes me more like four days to complete a quilt if from really rocking at it. So I'm going to proceed with sort of the cooking show mentality, right? If you've ever watched it typical cooking show, you notice that they've prepared the same recipe multiple times to different stages of finishing, and that way you can just move things along and I want to do that with you guys today, I want you to be able to practice each stage of the quote making process, but since many of those stages take quite awhile to d'oh, tryingto watch most of those in real time with be very much like watching paint dry, and I don't want to put you through that, so instead we're just going to move things forward, and I'll always tell you when I'm moving to a new set of samples. To keep the process going, they definitely want to thank our sponsors for this class because it's such a treat to sew on these bernie no machines, you're going to love them if you've never so nana, bernie no before and clover has also donated all of the other tools that we're using in this class, and many of them are favorite of mine that I use all the time and so it's a real treat to get to use them in the classroom. So thank you very much, clover. So for our first class time today, we need to start cutting up t shirts, so let me go behind the table here and we'll get started on that. Now you all brought shirts with you. I've got some samples here. One of the things I like to dio when I'm working with shirts has just be obviously very sure that they're clean, but also assess whether they might have a few stains here there that I wanted be watching for us. I'm cutting them up and working with them, so I'm assuming that the four of you have done that, and if you're watching at home, if you want to just check over your shirts, the main parts of the shirts, obviously that we're going to use on a quilting context, we're going to be these front graphics. In some cases you might actually use the solid back panels of the shirts is well we kind of treat those like filler material but I'll get to that much later so for the cutting process if each of you would like to grab a shirt that you are perhaps slightly less attached tooth and the others that way if you're nervous about cutting there's no risk here and you're also going to need a pair of regular scissors we're using these clover bordeaux scissors which are very dreamy but they're a fairly short bladed scissor and I really like that for this process everyone's carefully assessing which one of these can which one of these can I feel safe getting gene you actually brought a collection of san francisco giants t shirts that have been very precious to you yeah yes I buy shirt I don't wear them I think probably in my pile of fifteen shirts I've warned three of them so yeah so I was trying to think which one I would cut cut when they actually warned what I love about your quote this is going to have a very defined eye color presence absolutely well let's cut these up I like to start by taking the caller off and this might be good to see up close but what I do is I'll pinch a fold somewhere in the collar like so and then you can just take your scissors and actually make a little snip right next to the seam so in case that's confusing, what you're doing is we're going to cut away the caller and the seam that so the collar to the shirt at the same time we're so what we're cutting just to the right of this little seam line here do not need to win any speed records for that what you want to do is cut away both semen collar and not lose too much of the t shirts fabric in the process. So do you use a little bit of care just to stay close to that seem but other than that if you're cut is not perfectly straight or it's got some hiccups in it here and there it's completely fine these scissors air really great for cutting across the shoulder seems as you may notice when you get to that point pair of sharp scissors is very helpful because there's actually quite a lot of fabric at the's shoulder seen points and it's safer to use a sharp blade so you can cut through them smoothly if you have to really ratchet down on your scissors to cut through that it's actually a little easier toe cut yourself in the process so I have just liberated the collar of the shirt you can go ahead and discard this unless she wanted make fashion accessory out of it I leave that entirely to you and the thing we cut next is the sleeve and that's exactly the same process. We want to take the sleeve itself off, right? And we also want to take off the scene where the sleeve was shown to some to the main body of the shirt, so you just make a little pinch in the same here, and that will give you something to clip into with your scissors on the body side, right? Correct on the body side, and then that gives you an opening that you can insert the scissor blade into and start cutting. So again, we want to keep the woman was cut us close to the scene as we can. We don't want to lose too much of this shirt panel, and you cut right through the under armed seemed there at the bottom if there is one, some t shirts are manufactured with side scenes and some t shirts are manufactured without, so we'll talk about that in just a moment. Okay, now speaking of paint drying, I'm not going to make you watch me cut both sleeves off here. As you can see, I haven't done a particularly fancy or precise job of that, and that is totally okay, I'm just trying to keep his much fabric on the shirt as I can. The sleeve pieces you may or may not want to save I typically onley save them if I've got a really fancy tied I shirt or a shirt with some kind of an overall patterns pattern to it because really this is a pretty small piece of fabric and you have quite a lot of extra fabric in the back panel of your shirt so it's not that necessary to keep it so I'm gonna fast forward a tiny bit here and I want to work with a shirt that actually has a side same in it so this one as you can see has had a seem some down the sides where is this purple when I was just working with has no sites seem the body's been manufactured in a tube shape and then made into a t shirt they function in a quilt exactly the same way so for this green shirt if I cut away the sleeve which I'll do very quickly and rather roughly so that I can move forward you actually want to be a little bit more careful than I'm being right now okay with that gone then all you do is lay the side seemed flat and with the sleeve gone it's much easier to do that and then I would just cut so that you can remove the sides seem along with the back panel of the shirt if you want tio if you're feeling very fancy and you would be very tidy about this. You can always cut the entire side seem away, but if you're meeting to cut up twenty or thirty shirts, you may really not want to spend this time, so you can always leave them attached to the back of the shirt and deal with them later. Now, if your t shirt that you're working with actually doesn't have any side seems here's how you do that. So for this shirt, I have actually cut away the entire collar have cut away the two slaves, and I'm gonna basically just hang this here's something you're going to learn very intimately about t shirts in the next two days, they're really did not typically manufactured with a whole lot of precision to them, actually, t shirt fabric is notoriously cricket. When it's cut out and stitched very often, the graphics you'll find are printed a little bit crooked as well. These are all things that will deal with and compensate for, but when you're cutting the side seams of the shirt, the only way to really figure out where those side seems are is, too take the shoulder seams here and then basically shake the shirt out a little bit to kind of hang it as flat as you can get it, and then you just lay it out like so and spread him out a bit. And then you have ah fold line that you can just cut right along like so now the question has come in from terry diana just basically asking how durable is a t shirt that's a great question thanks terry you know it's teacher quotes are very durable there's a lot of variables in terms of the age of your shirts and what condition they were in when you started working with them. Some shirts are definitely more worn out than others but we're going to stabilize all of our t shirt fabric with a few zobel interfacing before we saw the pieces together and that goes a long way toward adding a a lot of body and a lot of strength to this t shirt fabric and then another point of strength for a quilt is in the quilting itself. So generally speaking the more quilting you add meaning the stitching that holds the layers of a quilt together the more of that you add the more secure your quote will be and those are all big topics for day two of our class but those those two things are big factors and a t shirt quote will last you for years and years as you know a screen printed shirt well last you for here seven years so the t shirts are the same oh yes questioning about just to add on to that as faras washing a quilt with the fusing backer on the back of the quilt is there a special way to watch them? Yes, well, we're going to cover that in great detail of the end of day two, but just quickly for now it with any quilt washing is both necessary and slightly detrimental that's true of regular quilts as well as t shirt quilts. Generally speaking, a quilt should probably not be washed all the time. When we work with these, what I like to do is a cold water wash very gentle detergent, gentle cycle on your machine and then try to keep them out of a hot dryer so you if you need a tumble, dry it, use a no heat setting or a low heat setting if you can, I hang it out on a line that's the best way really to dry any quilts, even t shirt or a regular quilt thank you kangaroo, which is probably the best handle I've heard in the chapmans for a long time. Welcome to you think angry, they're saying that the sleeve makes a great bandanna when you're cleaning or gardening or putting makeup on set, so nothing is wasted when you cut it away. That is a tremendously good idea actually, when I have a long sleeved shirt like my green one here, a lot of times I will hang on to those slave pieces too, because there's actually quite a bit of fabric to be had here so great bandanna idea all right, so now I've got this t shirt and it's pretty close to ban to separate panels of fabric all that's left to do now is cut away the side scenes and since the side seems they're actually quite bulky as I'm sure you're all feeling here in the studio, I do go ahead and cut those on both sides to just get rid of them completely. Most of the cutting we're going to be doing from here forward is done with a rotary cutter and it's just not a great thing to cut across something so stiff and thick with a rotary cutter, so we'll just get rid of him with these scissors and that gives us two panels of usable t shirt fabric. In the case of this shirt we actually had some screen printing on both the front and the back. So when you make a quilt from a shirt like this very often you'll want to use both graphics or you might decide that one graphics more important than the other and just use one of them that's one of the mayor of many sort of loosey goosey parts of t shirt quilting is making those determinations if you're working with a shirt like this one that is only printed on the one aside, then what I generally do is all save the front panel in one pile, and I'll save the un printed back panel in a separate pile because, as I mentioned earlier, these back panels will become extra pieces of the quilt. Your quilt design is very likely going to need to be filled out a little bit, because of course, we have an undetermined number of shirts, and so these extra pieces are fantastic to have there's like a like a big back logo on a smaller like chess logo or sleeve logo. Yes, very good, thank you so there's that there's like a industry term for that it's called a pocket graphic. So now you're you're hip to the t shirt industry lingo, this is probably called a sleeve graphic. I haven't researched that those air tremendous. Actually I've used them in a number of my quilts. Why don't I show you one place where I've done that? This is a quilt all this come around front, the quote that actually made from my producer for this class, justin, and you can see there's two shirts here where they've used pocket graphics, and then I just surrounded him with extra fabric, so they're terrific or you can do this kind of thing, we get you a different quilt, this is actually the quilts that I freed up closet shelf space on has made this one for my partner and in this one I actually was able to he had a lot of pocket graphic shirts, so I was able to just make us whole skinny two columns of them so pack a graphics to really have a nice versatility or you can use them for simpler stuff. Now all the patterns that you're using all of the t shirts are going in the same direction do you ever mix them up? Have some of them upside down some of them to the side central joy dio did that they're just a personal taste it's completely a personal taste let me locate there is no one no one of my quote samples is missing it would've been a perfect example, but I'd theirs oh, you have them have me on this one I was hiding them just really you know, those air spoken forms, that idea is out the window, I'll make you one, but I want you to make your own actually, well, well, look at my shots of the bright so she had the staff shirt in the pink and I decided to run that support. You can absolutely do things like that, so we'll we'll spend quite a bit of time on the whole design process and how that works, but how we doing ladies cutting up as it's being hard, cutting up your precious san francisco giants t shirt? No no. Okay, because I'll get to see them now. That's, that's a really good point? Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, these sit in your closet in a pile. Yes, I've never get seen. And now you don't have something beautiful. And I love her story about her partner and the shirt. My boyfriend recently moved in with me and we have an entire dresser full of t shirts that I did not know he owned. Um, I'm like, I've seen five of these where he's been because well, you can't wear him all the time. You wear him out, so we're goingto make some quilts. Awesome. And you could do that together? Yes. When kate and I worked on this quilt together just to get it out one more time he was really instrumental in figuring out where he wanted the shirts to be. So I'm usually pretty much of a rugged individualist. Ahs a crafter. I don't collaborate a whole lot, but had all the shirts laid out on the floor and I was just about some together and I was like, hey, honey, here we are we're ready to sew this together and he went no it's like I need that shirt to go next to that shirt and I need the tiki shirt and the surf shop shirt to be together and had like this really specific idea of how it needed to be, which was kind of cool because then it had me do a whole different design treatment than I had planned, so it is fun to get a participant it's need to if you're working with children, you know your commemorating someone's really small childhood shirts in a quilt toe let them play around with what it looks like is and they have more of an ownership of it, you know, it's really fun that way I'd love to see some eight some of your t shirts nina r kelly would you like to show maybe a favorite that you've brought to class and tell us a little bit about the story behind it? Yeah, so this is actually a handmade kind of shirt that we made for my son when he was five. This was a favorite uncle of my husbands and he's he lived in upstate new york and he would go back every june and go bass fishing because he had little camp on them on the water and as uncle sam got older he had had a stroke and he would wait for june and my husband would carry him into the canoe and they would canoe and then when my son was born, he would go in with them as the one year my husband made this for my son for their june trip, and so I thought I would add that to the clothe uh, so I'm making a quote for my oldest son, who is a senior in high school this year, and this is the t shirt from his first concert, green day choice all have fun, and actually, nina son was it was his first concert to we're neighbors were neighbors and good friends, and so the dad's took the boys that's so fun. Kelly, did you bring a favorite shirt? Yeah, um, I actually am eight a crafter for other people I never actually did for myself, so my husband is an animator and he works with a lot of other animators so he's there from your what villains who only knows what this was. I don't know, you know, like the creature from lord of the rings yeah, oh, they'll feed maybe not. It might be a felt tip it weirdness going on so e create some very strange creatures. I'm not sure that's fun, so a whole lot of those animator style graphics on a quilt is going to look really time well, the thing is with them, they get a shirt or stuff for all the films that they work on, so you kind of have a history of their career when you gather all their shirts together, which is really nice. Oh, absolutely, when my husband is an animator and so I have t shirts from, but when he did the california raisin commercials, two star wars tio thank gringo so there's like a whole little movie trivia quilt, which is kind of cool. So how fun that was! Well, but I'm not sure I could ever bear to cut him up. That tara swaggers joins was just saying she can't believe she actually made the first cut of her first shit, so she got so many child crafty shows she's done, but she's never worn them, says she's really excited to use them, but this one I very great fondness for is because it's the actual cambodian alphabet, and I got that wise where? No, sorry, I'm sorry it's from laos, it's, laotian, so I'm not sure I'd ever want to part with that will cut that up, but it would be great to preserve it in a quilt because I don't wear it anymore because I'm way too overweight, let's have a way of shrinking their life spans my step very sure you had almost have the way of it. Increasing at the same time at the same pace. So this is actually my favorite. Tintin is actually not the tintin book that really exists, but it's a play on that and obviously, using the london the abbey road, which I got quite recently, so levels as well. But this one I've always had great fondness for as well, because it's, actually the ifo, which I got in vietnam because it actually has the ingredients for vietnamese foe. But they've done it like the iphone logos you want to have. So maybe I'll be quoting those good. Sure you should cut these shirts up. I don't wear them so this's there's right now.

Class Description

Are the t-shirts you saved for their sentimental value starting to pile up? Making them into a t-shirt quilt is an incredible way to preserve memories of the marathons you’ve run, family reunions you’ve attended, theater productions you’ve appeared in and more. Join Diane Gilleland and learn about the coziest way to share your life story.

This course will cover everything you need to know to create a t-shirt quilt from start to finish. You'll learn three methods of simple quilting: tie quilting by hand, machine ties, and simple straight line quilting. You'll learn two methods of finishing the quilt: a sewn edge and a binding. You’ll explore the tools professional quilters use, but also learn how to incorporate the sewing materials you already have into your quilting. You’ll make accurate cuts using a ruler and a rotary cutter and construct a simple patchwork. You’ll also learn best practices for sewing straight seams and working with knits.

No matter how many t-shirts you have saved up or how much sewing experience you have you’ll leave this course with the skills you need to create a lifelong keepsake.