Everyone has a T-shirt collection, whether intended or not. Why not upcycle them into a stylish T-shirt quilt using your overlocker?
The overlocker is a great machine for sewing knits and makes fast work of this project. By using flatlock seams, the ladder side of the stitch adds a fun design element to the piecing. Add a fleece back and sew the edge with a 2-thread wrapped stitch. Finish it up by tying the layers together with some decorative buttons from your button collection. This is a fun and fast way to use your favorite tees to make a soft blanket to take to the game or snuggle in at home.
Materials for Making a T-shirt Quilt
- bernette b44 Funlock
- Ten to 20 t-shirts
- Rotary cutter
- Cutting mat
- Seracor serger thread
- Maxi-lock stretch serger thread
- Flower head pins
- Buttons, hand sewing needle and thread
Steps to Make a T-shirt Quilt
Step 1: Cut down t-shirts
Using a rotary cutter and ruler, cut the t-shirts down into rectangular /square shapes. Think about using parts of the shirt as design elements; pockets, neckbands, sleeves and even hems make fun textural elements in the blanket.
Step 2: Design the top
Lay out the pieces into a pleasing arrangement. Remember that your overlocker cuts and sews in one step, so a square that is too large can be trimmed as it is joined to the next piece.
Step 3: Set up machine
Set up your overlocker for a 3-thread Wide Flatlock.
Step 4: Assemble the top
Using the flatlock stitch, assemble the top in sections improvisationally. When piecing the T-shirts, flower head pins are great for working with an overlocker because you can pin parallel to the seam line and the presser foot can move over them easily.
Take time to secure the thread tails of the seams before sewing the next seam. This will make the stitches less likely to separate (as the seam allowance is small). To do this use a tapestry needle and weave the thread tail back and forth into the back side of the stitch. When you make the next seam, watch carefully to not cut the end of the seam with the blade. Not to worry too much if you do, you can always add a little fray check to keep it in place.
For my blanket I worked in three sections and joined them together with only two long seams to bring everything together.
Step 5: Join top and back
Fleece makes a great blanket backing. Depending on the size of your top, you may need to seam the fleece together. You can do this with a flatlock if you want to see the stitch or an overlock if you don’t.
Lay the top and back together with wrong sides together. Use the flat flower heads or safety pins to baste it together. Trim the fleece about 1” larger than the top.
Step 6: Set machine to 2-thread wrapped edge
A wrapped edge looks great and is a fast way to finish the blanket edge.
Install the looper converter on the upper looper and thread the machine with maxi-lock stretch thread in the lower looper. Match the thread color with regular serger thread for the left needle.
Test sew and adjust your stitch length to achieve the desired look for your thread. Sew around the perimeter of the blanket with the T-shirt side up, trimming the fleece as you go.
Step 7: Tie the layers together
To keep the blanket together you need to secure the layer to one another. Consider how you want this to look. I recommend sewing a fun decorative button over each corner where seams come together. It is a natural junction and adding the button will protect and secure this join from stress during use.
You’re all set to head to the ball game or the park!