How to finish your T-shirt quilt by Christmas
I got a request from one of you for instructions on how to finish their T-shirt quilt by Christmas.
I’m already out of town, so I’m not able to make the three videos that are required to show you all how to finish it, but I will do my best with photos and videos that I’ve already made for other projects.
And if you have no intention of finishing the quilt by Christmas, don’t worry, I’m still going to make the remaining videos and post them in January.
Here are the instructions:
1. Clear your schedule and stock up on caffeinated beverages.
2. Clear your floor or find two banquet tables of similar height and place them next to each other.
3. Lay your completed quilt top, right side up, on the table or floor and mark your quilting design. You can get as fancy as you like, but for T-shirt quilts I prefer to mark in a diagonal grid. To do this I lay my 6-inch by 24-inch ruler from the corner of one cornerstone to the corner of another and mark the line using chalk. Then I measure the distance between the diagonal lines, divide by two, and mark another diagonal line half the distance between the two lines going through the cornerstones. Then repeat this process going the other direction so you have a grid of chalk lines. You can kind of see the grid in the green T-shirt on the quilt above.
Fons and Porter makes a chalk wheel I like for this task. I bought mine at JoAnn Fabrics, but have seen it at dedicated quilt stores as well. If you buy one in yellow and one in blue, you’ll never need another color.
4. Now pick your quilt top up off the floor or table and lay your backing fabric down wrong side up. You want your backing fabric to be 10 inches wider than your quilt top. Use painters’ tape to tape the backing fabric to the floor or table. You want the fabric to be taut, but not stretched.
5. Repeat step 4 with your batting. I recommend using Warm and Natural or Warm and White, because your quilting lines can be further apart than most battings.
6. Repeat step 4 with your quilt top, laying it right side up and making sure to center it on the batting and backing. Then put a safety pin in each of the diamonds created by the grid to hold the layers together while you quilt. You can see what this looks like in the photo above. Now you have made a quilt sandwich.
7. Take the tape off of the quilt layers. Staring at the corners, roll the quilt tightly toward the center, keeping the roll parallel with the quilting grid you marked. Stop once you reach the center line and repeat from the other side.
8. Attach a walking foot to your sewing machine and start quilting. Start with the center line from corner to corner, then work outward toward one side of the quilt, unrolling the quilt as you come to the next grid line. Then repeat this process on the other side of the quilt and then again to complete the other side of the grid.
I use Sulky Premier Invisible thread for the quilt top, and a cotton thread that matches the backing fabric in the bobbin. Sulky Premier Invisible thread is different from other invisible threads because it is made of polyester, not nylon, so it doesn’t feel like fishing line and quilts better. Still, it needs a little time to relax before it gets to the the needle, so instead of putting it on the thread holder in my machine, I put the spool in a small cup next to the machine and then thread the machine normally. I’ve bought this thread at Hancock Fabrics.
9. Now it’s time to make and attach the binding. Opinions differ on how wide to cut your binding. If this is your first quilt, I recommend cutting your binding 2 1/2 inches wide by the width of fabric. Once you get more practice, you can cut it thinner. Explaining how to make binding in words alone is difficult, check out the video above to find out how. The binding instructions start at 2:30, but there’s instructions on how to make a quilt sandwich in the first part of the video that may also be helpful. But ignore the part about using a spray basting method. You’ll get yourself high if you try that with a large quilt.
And if you’re wondering what in the hell this Home Rookies blog is about and just who is Stephanie De Pasquale who looks a whole like like me? Well, that’s my maiden name which I use for the blog I write at my day job at the Quad-City Times about my misadventures in DIY home improvement. You can check it out at www.qctimes.com/homerookies. I’m saving for and iPad so I can make nicely edited videos like that one for this blog since I don’t have the technology to do it at home.
10. Have a drink to celebrate finishing your T-shirt quilt and post photos of it to the Quilt Addicts Anonymous T-shirt Quilts group on Flickr.