Today I’m going to show you how to make a t-shirt baby quilt using upcycled t-shirts. It’s a fun and simple homemade baby gift idea, and a great way to recycle some awesome t-shirts with sentimental value that you’re not quite ready to get rid of!
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get attached to old t-shirts. Sometimes it’s a t-shirt that my son wore every day or one that is a souvenir from a favorite trip.
Either way, I hate to get rid of them when they’ve got a bit of sentimental value. Today, I’m going to show you how to upcycle a t-shirt into a baby blanket!
Upcycled T-Shirt Baby Blanket Patterns
I can see this project made from a wide variety of t-shirts, from favorite sports team shirts to race t-shirts to t-shirts that are travel souvenirs. Since the shirts are soft they are perfect to up-cycle into knit receiving blankets.
This t-shirt quilt would be best made as a gift if it features t-shirts from someone they know and love. I probably wouldn’t make it from random t-shirts LOL! But if you’ve got a stash of sentiment t-shirts I think it’s a great project to make for a gift.
This project is made from a few of my son’s favorite Star Wars t-shirts. We don’t have a particular baby in mind for this blanket, but I thought that the Star Wars theme would be universal enough that it might make a fun gift. I’ll most likely end up saving this blanket for a “someday” grandchild *wink*.
About the T-Shirts Used in the Quilt:
The blanket is made from a combination of old t-shirts and purchased knit fabric. If you’re new to sewing with knits check out this post on “how to sew with knit fabrics” and if you’ve never shopped for knit fabrics before make sure you check out this post on “how to shop for knit fabrics”.
How to Make a T-Shirt Quilt Baby Blanket
Note: I’m using the term “quilt” however this project is not technically a quilt since there is no batting between the layers. However, most of you would call it a baby quilt, so I’m using that term. A baby blanket would be a more appropriate title for this project.
Supplies for T-Shirt Blanket
To make one you’re going to need:
Up to 9 t-shirts that can be cut into 12″ x 12″ squares. I used the front and back of two t-shirts (which took up 4 squares of the 9).
A Variety of Knit Fabrics for the patchwork on the front of the blanket. If you are making this all from t-shirts you don’t need to buy extra fabric for the front of the blanket. This blanket needs a total of 9 squares for the front. Decide how you want to mix and match the fabrics and t-shirts. My knits were all purchased from Girl Charlee.
1 ¼″ yards of Knit Fabric for the back of the blanket
½ yard of Ribbed Knit Fabric for the binding
Stretch or Jersey Needle for your machine
Helpful but not required: 12 ½″ x 12 ½″ quilt ruler. The squares we are using are 12″ after cutting but this ruler would help you to center your design before the final cut.
Instructions to Sew the Baby Blanket
Step one, Cut up your T-Shirts:
Cut one t-shirt into a 12″ x 12″ square with the “image” of your t-shirt in the center of the square. Just note that the size of the t-shirts you are starting with will determine how well your image fits in the 12″ square.
If you want you can increase the size of the squares you can, you will just have to adjust the size of the backing fabric to match. My t-shirts were are boys size M or L so a 12″ square was not a problem. If you’re working with Adult size tees you can go up to a 14 ½ square, but then you will need to make your backing fabric larger as well.
Cut 12″ x 12″ squares of knit fabric so that you have 9 squares in total.
Step Two: Lay Out the Cut T-Shirts and Sew Together:
Lay out the squares in a pattern that you like in 3 rows of 3 squares.
Pin the squares of the top row together.
Insert the stretch/jersey needle into your sewing machine. Install your walking foot. Set your stitch to a slight zig-zag (about an offset of 1 or 2) and lengthen your stitch to 4 or 4 ½.
Using a ½″ seam allowance stitch the 3 squares together.
Repeat for the 2nd and 3rd row of squares.
Stitch all 3 rows of squares together matching seams.
Step Three Backing:
Cut your backing fabric to 38″ x 38″ (if you made your t-shirts squares larger, measure your sewn squares to get the proper backing measurement).
Lay out your backing fabric on a flat surface, wrong side up. Make sure it’s smooth. Lay your sewn fabric squares on top with the right side up. Smooth out so that all layers are even. If your fabric is on a cutting mat, use your rotary cutter to trim the backing fabric so that it exactly the same size as the sewn pieces. If it’s not on a cutting mat, use scissors.
Using a plate, round off the 4 corners of the blanket.
Step Four Bind:
Next, cut your rib-knit fabric into 2″ long strips. The number of strips you need will depend on the width of your fabric. You need a total of 160″ of rib knit fabric to bind the blanket. Cut the strips then sew them together end to end to make one long strip of fabric.
Place several pins in the blanket. Pin the rib knit fabric to the right side of the blanket. Stitch it in place curving around the corners. Use a ½″ seam allowance and make sure you catch all the layers of fabric. It’s very important that for this step you use a walking foot (or dual feed foot). When you get back to the spot where you started, match the ends and stitch in place.
Turn the fabric to the backside of the blanket and turn it under ½″ so that the fold is extending about ⅛″ over the stitching line. Pin well.
On the front of the blanket, stitch the binding in place.
After you finish it will look a little wonky. TRUST ME this is normal. To fix this steam the binding well with an iron until it “behaves” again.
It might take a bit of work to get used to it, but try it and soon you’ll be an expert!
This post was originally published in 2015 and has been revised and updated and improved.