Monday, March 2, 2020

Simple Cutting Hack for Making T Shirt Quilts

One of our granddaughters was involved in soft ball, band, theater and an assortment of other extra-curricualar events during middle school and high school. So for her birthday, her dad thought it would be fun to create a quilt out of the old t-shirts that she wore as she participated in those activities. He and my daugher asked if I wanted to help. I've made a lot of quilts over the years, but I have never done a t-shirt quilt before. I knew this would be a big project--she has a lot of shirts--and trying to figure out how to cut those soft, stretchy shirts into twenty even squares was a little daunting.

So I spread the shirts out and measured side to side and top to bottom to see if I could figure out what dimension would allow me to include the important patterns on the front without running into the sleeve and neck edges. I ultimately decided that 14 inches was optimal.

But then, how to cut them? I needed to be able to see that 14" square while I cut the t-shirt fronts so that I could center the designs. For most quitlting, the easiest option is use a cutting mat, plastic cutting guide, and a rotary cutter. But I didn't have and couldn't find a template that size, and the smaller templates that I do have are somewhat opaque. I remembered that you can buy fairly thick clear plastic sheets at the hardware store, so I went to Lowes, and, sure enough, they had them in varying sizes. None of them were exactly the size I needed, but the helpful hardware people will cut them to size for you without charge. For $12, I was able to purchase the plastic and have it cut into a 14 x 14" square. (I got to keep the left over pieces. Future projects. . . .?) Not cheap, perhaps, but certainly worth it for the time it saved me.

I cut the backs off each shirt and sent them to a thrift store that recycles fabric. Then I simply placed each front on my cutting board. I didn't have to worry about measuring or straight lines or anything other than having the fabric smooth. I centered my plastic template over the emblem on the t-shirt that I wanted to highlight in the square:

Using my rotary cutter, all I had to do was cut around the template:

Voila! I hope the rest of the process goes as smoothly. . . .