T-shirt Cow Quilt
Would you believe me if I told you that this quilt was made from button-down t-shirts?? I'll prove it!
I'm happy to share this post detailing how I designed this quilt and also the tips and tricks I've found using t-shirts in quilts.
Remember the strawberry t-shirt quilt? (Find that here). I had the same customer reach out to me for another baby quilt for her grandson. This little guy happens to LOVE cows and his grandma's farm. This sweet family has been searching for ways to utilize clothing from grandparents that passed this year. I am so honored to be able to bring their ideas to life!
How I created this quilt
My customer, April, reached out to me with this cow quilt idea and a photo of an adorable quilt block found on Pinterest that she wanted to use for the quilt. After some digging, I found this block in Lori Holt's Book- Farm Girl Vintage 2. I purchased the book from Amazon and was so excited to see all the blocks and ideas in there!
We wanted this to be a crib-sized quilt, small enough to be used by a little one, but big enough to grow with. Each of these blocks is sized at 12" when finished. April and I decided on a 3x4 layout, with 1" sashing strips and a 2.5" border, bringing us to a 43" x 56" quilt.
In order to keep things coherent, I made two blocks from each set of shirts. Since there were so many different shirt patterns, this definitely kept things looking balanced throughout the quilt. For me, it was easiest to look through the shirts and pick out the cow's body. From there, I would find a matching face and body parts.
Some things to keep in mind when using t-shirts instead of quilting fabric
The most important thing to remember is that they stretch. They get wonky if you press too much or pull too hard. This is especially true with flannel-type materials. Be easy when pressing and sewing. It also helps to pin, even small pieces, before sewing to keep them from stretching.
The seams can get pretty bulky. You may need to use your best judgment as to which direction to press the seams, despite what the pattern says. I found that some of the seams wanted to naturally lay a certain way while using the t-shirts as opposed to regular quilting cotton. Just go with the flow!
Directional fabrics (such as stripes) need to be considered when using them in quilt blocks. If you're making flying geese or adding a triangle to one side of a square, audition it first before sewing and cutting to make sure that it will look right when it's finished. Also, make sure you're pinning and sewing the pattern in the right direction. Notice in the below photo, I didn't pay attention to the pattern direction in the bottom left area of his mouth!
Test the shirts beforehand with the iron and adjust the heat accordingly. I may or may not be speaking from experience, but sometimes a hot iron will leave an unforgiving mark on certain types of shirts!
I quilted this as usual. After you put the blocks together, especially if there is some kind of sashing or regular cotton fabric pieces around the blocks, the risk of stretching is minimized. I didn't do anything special except pay attention to the bulky seams and maybe avoid those a little while sewing. I quilted an all-over swirl with a hook.
The end result was beautiful! I couldn't wait to hear about the little boy's reaction.
What quilt blocks would you like to use t-shirts in??