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Recycled T-Shirt Quilt

This project was one of the first crafty DIYs I ever attempted, which means that it was many, many years ago now. I can vaguely remember making it, so I'll try and tell you the basic steps in case you would like to try something similar yourself :)


Unfortunately, I didn't take photos of every step like I normally would, but the concept is very simple. It was actually the first time I'd ever properly used a sewing machine, so that just proves that you don't need skills to make this!

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I started out with 7 old t-shirts and vests, all plain colours and made of regular jersey material. I already had a huge piece of striped jersey material in my collection so I used that for the backing. The end result is a bit wrinkled and my stitching isn't the neatest (don't look too closely), but I'm proud of it!


Note: If you wanted to make it into more of an actual quilt, you could add a layer of batting between the t-shirts and the backing. I didn't do this because I wanted to use it as a picnic blanket and so batting - which is added for warmth/insulation purposes - was not required.

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(Please ignore the very retro carpet!)


The first thing I did was cut up and arrange the pieces of t-shirt into a pattern I was happy with. Make sure each piece overlaps its neighbour by a centimetre or two, and bear in mind that the smaller the pieces you use, the longer this projects is going to take.

Also make sure that the t-shirt arrangement is smaller than the piece of material you are using for the backing.


Next is the part that requires patience; basting.

I basted (used a long running stitch) along each join to temporarily attach all of the t-shirt parts together along all of the edges. This is the longest process and isn't fun. But it is necessary. You need to see how it all fits together as a 'test run', and this step will help you hugely when you get to the proper sewing.

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I cut out a rectangle from the backing material so that it was at least a couple of inches (depending on the width of border you want) larger than the t-shirt arrangement on all sides.


I trimmed any excess t-shirt material away, especially along the edges to straighten them up.


Using my sewing machine, I permanently joined all of the t-shirt sections together, before removing the basting thread.

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I folded each of the long edges (of the backing material) over by about 1cm, and then over again by a couple of inches to form the border. You can iron these folds in place before you sew, but to be honest I didn't bother! I added a few pins to keep the folds in place and sewed along the inner side of the border.


I made sure the border enclosed the raw edges of the t-shirts, but made sure I didn't enclose so much t-shirt material that the border would appear lumpy. Feel free to remove any excess material as you go.


I repeated this for the shorter edges, and it was finished!

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