Sep 202013

The designs on t-shirts used in memorial quilts are often already showing signs of wear and I would never want to do anything to hasten the deterioration, so I never sew across the design when quilting a t-shirt quilt. I’ve seen plenty of t-shirt quilts with overall, edge-to-edge quilting and I worry about the print peeling or flaking away from the fabric, especially if the quilt is used often and washed regularly.

Outline quilting is best done free motion so the fabric doesn’t shift while stitching. Here are shots of the front and back of an outline-quilted section.

Outline quilting around dolphins on front of quilt.

Outline quilting around dolphins as seen from the back of the t-shirt quilt.

Note the breaks in the outline quilting where the dolphin fins and tails crossed the waves. Although it takes more time to tie off and bury the thread ends, I think it’s worth it to ensure that the t-shirt design isn’t punctured by the needle.

  4 Responses to “How to Outline Quilt a T-Shirt Quilt”

  1. I love your site. Do you use quilt batting on wall hangings made with T-Shirts, etc? This would be very helpful to me. Thanks… Tina

    • I’ve yet to create a t-shirt quilt destined for the wall, Tina, but do have some thoughts on this. Using some type of batting will give your wall hanging softness and texture that you wouldn’t see with no batting whatsoever. But that crisper look may be what you prefer and if so, it’s a fine choice.

      I think the most important thing if you’re planning to hang a t-shirt quilt is to make sure that your backing supports the front despite gravity. To keep the front from stretching over time, just be sure that your backing is a non-stretchy woven fabric and then run the lengthwise grain (parallel to the selvage) top to bottom, if possible. If you’re not sure which is lengthwise and which is crosswise, hold several inches between your hands and give the fabric a little tug – there will no give along the lengthwise grain while the crosswise grain will stretch slightly.

      If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask here or contact me directly using the contact form. Thanks for visiting my site and best to you with your t-shirt quilt, Tina!

      • Thank you for your great help. Would you suggest a quilt as you go done in sections for a wall hanging?
        I love your web site. Many thanks again.

        • Sure, Tina, quilt as you go would be fine for a wall hanging. Just be sure that the backing and joining strips are non-stretchy to provide support for the front. Also, you’ll want to be sure to add enough quilting within your sections so none of the fabrics on the front sag. And thanks so much for your compliments on my site!