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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