Concert T-shirt Quilt

What is one to do with over a decade’s worth of concert shirts? Many well worn with holes and stains. Some never touched. These were not to be used for cleaning toilets or waxing cars. But it’s a shame to let them sit useless in a box, gather dust.

A quilt is a way to repurpose these Ts and still keep them close to the skin, or on display. It became my oversized scrapbook.

I had 31 shirts from concerts passed. Reminders of great music with good friends or family. But cutting out the art on the front and/or back for large squares didn’t interest me. I wanted more of a puzzle. A piece of abstract art. Something to study.

The most difficult part of this whole project was making the first cut. I started by removing collars and shirt sleeves, then separating the front from the back. Iron-on interfacing was used to stabilize the stretchy fabric.

6″ squares seemed to make best use of each panel. I cut a 7″ square piece of clear glass and used layers of masking tape to cover the sharp edges and provide me with a half inch border for my seam allowance. The clear glass also allowed me to see how the designs would be cropped. There were some parts of shirts where I wanted words or faces kept whole, and positioned the template so. It also provided a solid edge as a cutting guide

I needed 272 squares to make a queen size bed spread. I was short some by the time I had all the shirts sliced. I created a smaller glass template of 4″ to cut smaller sized squares (3″ with .5″ seam allowance) and used 4 pieces to make a larger block. In the end, I had very little left over, and the slightly larger pieces have been great as rags.

Having so many pieces can be overwhelming. And I didn’t have a large enough area to arrange them (I was working in a 13 x 15″ studio apartment!). I scanned each individual piece and imported them as individual layers in Photoshop. This allowed me to freely arrange and rearrange the ‘puzzle’ pieces.

Scanned Blocks
Scanned Blocks
Final Study
Final Study
The end result provided a great reference for going square by square, strip by strip. I was thrilled to see the top come together, and take up over half of my apartment.

The Complete Guide to Quilting was a great resource for working out my first quilting project. After basting the top/batting/backing sandwich together, I spent many nights in bed, watching tv, tacking the corners of each square with red embroidery tread. This was a little easier than quilting the sandwich together. It took a few months to get through them all. The finishing touch was self binding the edges.

Materials:

  • (31) t-shirts
  • Interfacing
  • embroidery thread
  • cutting wheel
  • cutting mat
  • 7″ and 4″ square glass
  • masking tape
  • sewing machine and tread

4 thoughts on “Concert T-shirt Quilt

  1. this is by far the BEST “tshirt” quilt I have seen – BRILLIANT idea scanning the pieces into photoshop- kudos looks like your hard work paid off big time!!

  2. This is amazing! I am not really a big fan of the quilts with huge squares and I saw your quilt on google images, and THANK GOD you gave directions! You are brilliant and soo much help!

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