Raise your hand if you have roughly 4857392 t-shirts that you love, but don’t wear anymore! Doesn’t everyone graduate from college with so many shirts? Teams, athletic events, sorority parties, beach weekends, concerts. The list goes on forever.
You just can’t bear to part with them because MEMORIES PEOPLE, but most of our post-grad lives involve a whole lot less t-shirt wearing. So they languish in your drawer. But it drives the organizational side of me crazy. And at some point your drawer explodes every time you try to open it.
Enter: the t-shirt blanket.
Since I discovered the joy of the t-shirt blanket, I’ve made three. The high school t-shirt blanket covers a twin bed, the one where I purged my husband’s shirt collection made an oversized queen blanket, and the one shown in these photos is a throw blanket for the couch.
This project is not for the faint of heart. It takes time: I would spend several hours every weekend or so on it, and it probably took me 6 weekends of that to complete it.
This is a step down from a full-on quilt. A friend of mine had a legit t-shirt quilt made for her son and it cost hundreds of dollars. My t-shirt blanket uses fleece and isn’t quilted. It’s not quite as warm but it’s great for a spring and fall blanket or a throw for the couch.
DIY T-shirt Blanket
- t-shirts! (see below for numbers)
- Craft cutting mat, straight edge (12.5″ quilter’s square ruler or acrylic ruler) and rotary cutter
- chalk or sewing chalk
- sewing machine
- sewing basics: thread, scissors, pins
- fleece, or some other backing for blanket
- serger (optional)
- Decide on the size blanket to make. You can pick a traditional size or go custom. If you want standard 12 inch square blocks, you can use the dimension of the graphic below to know how many shirts you’ll need.
- Go through all your t-shirts! Go through your husband’s t-shirts! Make a big pile. You’ll use more than you think, and you sometimes use both sides or just the back. Remember, you’re still saving them for posterity, just not in your dresser drawer. I’d also advise having a “definitely use” and a “maybe use” stack, just to make sure you end up with enough blocks.
- Start cutting! The by-far-easiest way to do this is to buy or borrow a 12.5″ square quilting ruler. It makes the measuring process idiot-proof. But if you’re free handing it, use some kind of thick long ruler and chalk to mark the size block.
My mom insists that I insert the lecture here regarding how easy it is to cut yourself with a rotary cutter. It is VERY sharp. It works like a pizza cutter, but with even fewer safety features. Consider yourself warned. Rotary cutters are fantastic for all manner of crafts, sewing or otherwise.
Whatever size you want your squares to end up, cut .25″ worth of extra (seam allowance) on each side. If you want 12″ blocks, you cut out 12.5″ blocks.
If you want non-standard sizes, don’t make it too hard on yourself. I made a row of smaller blocks that had the same width, but only a height of 4″ (4.5″ with the seam allowance) to use those shirts with the smaller pocket icons.
- Once everything is cut, lay out how you want it! I do mine pretty helter-skelter, only trying to make sure there’s not two white shirts next to each other. But don’t overthink it. The best place to do this is your bed or the living the room floor: wherever they fit!
- Now for the sewing! Pick up the first row of shirts in a stack. Take the first block and flip it facedown, so the designs of the two shirts are facing each other. Make sense? This is called “right sides together.” Pin them together, then sew the appropriate edge. Aim to have a little less than 1/4 inch between the seam and the edge. If you’re lucky enough to have access to a serger, use that.
- Once you’ve sewn the first two together, lay the front of shirt #2 on top of shirt #3, now at the top of your stack. Right sides together again. Sew those two together, creating a strip of shirts that will be your top row of the blanket. Repeat for each row until everything is sewn into strips.
- Lay out the first and second strip as you want them to be in the final blanket, then flip the first row upside down on top the second. Pin these together, then sew the two rows in the same way you just joined the individual blocks.
- Congratulations! You have the top done! Do a happy dance! You’re nearly there, and it’s way easier from here.
- Measure and cut the fleece backing. This may mean sewing two pieces of fleece together to get the desired width if you chose a queen- or king-sized blanket.
- Once the fleece and the shirts are the same size, place their right sides facing each other (just like with the shirt rows). Sew three sides together, then all but 18 inches of the fourth side.
- Use the unsewn 18 inches to turn the blanket right side out. Be gentle; you don’t want to rip the seams as you do this! To sew the last bit, turn the edges in (to match the rest of the already-sewn edges) and sew from the outside a seam along the edge, about 1/4 inch in.
- Once you’ve done that, continue to sew that 1/4 inch edge along the whole blanket. This helps the blanket retain its shape through using and washing.
- Finally, sew several bar tacks into various spots on the blanket to keep the two pieces of fabric together. Essentially, you sew tiny spots onto the fabric that holds the fleece in place against the shirts. Tacking isn’t hard: most sewing machines have a setting for it or you can do it by hand.
T-shirt blankets make perfect snuggly blanket for movie nights and we’ve gotten lots of use out them. Plus, your dresser won’t burst at the seams every time you open it!
I’d love to see your creations! Link a photo below or tag me on Instagram so I can see your t-shirt blanket!
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31 thoughts on “DIY T-Shirt Blanket”
I have been planning on making a t-shirt quilt for what seems like forever now haha! Thanks for sharing!
Great! I’d love to see your finished product!!
I’ve never seen anything like this before and I love it! What a lovely way to keep all those memories rather than just leaving a bunch of old T shirts in the wardrobe. I might even try this with my babies old clothes, that could be a sweet way of incorporating her first outfits into a cute little blanket for her. Bookmarked!
Ooh, baby clothes would be darling! My grandma actually made a quilt with scraps of all her kids’ clothing and it’s so special to my mom. I’d love to see it when you finish!
Very cool, I bet this feels lovely to cuddle up under as well!
It’s perfect for snuggly movie nights!
What a great way to make use of the shirts you can’t part with but also never wear. Love the idea of a crib-sized one for little bundles!
I am for sure not talented enough to make those ! :O Look great though
Thanks! I bet you could – I can’t do much more than sew in a straight line. 🙂
This is such an awesome idea! Would be amazing for my hoarder friend who can’t bear to part with so many of her clothes she no longer wears haha. Gonna pass this article onto her! 🙂
Haha for sure. I was the same way, but tired of running out of drawer space!
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Hi! I know this is an old post but I came across your blog while searching for T-shirt blanket tutorials! I’m not a quilter, and not keen on spending hundreds of dollars on a blanket so your method is right up my alley. I’m wondering if you can tell me more about the bar tacks…where did you place them on the blanket and how many did you do? Any tips for keeping the blanket nice and smooth if you’re using a machine to do it? A few years later…how are your blankets holding up?
Hey! I’m so glad you found this! Irony of ironies, I’m sitting under the latest one as I type this! They’re holding up well – it definitely shows wear and tear, but both shirts and backing have held up well.
For the bar tacks, it depends on how “perfect” you want it. I’d advise doing one for every four shirts. I did fewer than that and the blankets all still hold up well and get regular use, but the queen size blanket needs to be shaken out to make it lay perfectly flat – adding more bar tacks would’ve helped it lay flat effortlessly.
The only other change I’d make is to use flannel instead of fleece – more durable, warmer, and better for the environment.
Thanks so much for replying! Glad they are holding up! I do have a serger and I’m going to try using it for this I think…though it will be my first time doing a project with it so I’m a little intimidated! Do you find that the seams are bulky at all inside the blanket? That’s my only real reservation with the serger since it uses so much more thread. Also – I love the idea of using flannel but worry that all the seams on the inside might be noticeable through the blanket! What do you think?
Because the shirts are already going to be thicker than your average quilting fabric, I don’t find that it’s bulky at all! Also, I’m so glad you have a serger – it makes the process so much simpler! Not worth buying one if you didn’t already, but way better to use one.
I haven’t made one with flannel- run out of shirts! 😉 I don’t think that would be a big issue because I don’t notice them at all with fleece. If you’re worried about it, you could always add a thin layer of batting between the shirt layer and flannel. That would disguise the seams and also make it a warmer quilt!
I, too, just found your blog. I’ll be making 3 memory blankets . My question is, did you use any fusible backing on the t-shirts? My t-shirts will be attached to 3 blankets that family members cherish that the relative that passed owned and loved. So the actual blankets will be my “back” side. I have to measure to make them fit those and none of them are standard size, but I think I can handle it. So the question is, did you use interfacing and do you think it would be necessary?
Hi Jan! That sounds like such a special way to remember your loved one! If you are going to quilt the shirts onto the blanket, then yes, you should interface. But if not, it’s not really necessary.
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Am so glad I came across your blog! My daughter had a collection of tee’s she cut out and I am now assembling into a blanket for her to take to graduate school. She wanted a warm throw, so I am layering it with fleece and she wanted a flannel backing. Will be making another for my other daughter who will be relocating in the fall to Florida. 😊
I’m so glad this helps, Andrea! It’s my favorite way to save shirts without saving – great memories that you actually use and see!
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So excited to try this! My family is pooling all our tshirts together to make one this summer. My question is for those of us without a serger – do you recommend using a stretch stitch/zigzag stitch when attaching the shirts since it’s knit fabric? Or do you think a straight stitch would be okay?
I love that it’s a family blanket! Yes, a stretch stitch is better for t-shirts for that reason. (Sorry for the delayed response, I wanted to confirm with my mom – she’s the serger expert!)
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Thanks for the encouraging tutorial. I’m thinking of using a thin batting with a backside of vintage cloth napkins stitched together. Two collections in one blanket! Now I just have to nerve up and start it. Your tutorial helps with that part!
I love the idea of vintage napkins – that’s such a good way to repurpose them! You’ve got this. Can’t wait to see it!
Glad I ran across this!
I am wanting to start making some memory blankets/quilts.
I make memory bears/pillows now but would like to add these.
What would you charge for one?
Can you mix other shirts with the t-shirts, like button down cotton shirts? Have you done one?
Thank you so much! I don’t make these for other people, so I’m not sure how much one would charge. You can definitely mix in other materials, but keep in mind that different types of cotton will have different stretch/pull. Makes it a bit more complicated in the assembly, but it’s doable!