Have you ever made a t-shirt quilt before? They are really great for making memory quilts of t-shirts from sports teams, jobs or special events from over the years in a useful and fun way! I decided 4 days before Christmas last year to make my Dad a t-shirt quilt from his fire fighter shirts. Yup, 4 days (or maybe it was 3). Either way, I don’t recommend that type of time frame but since my kids are older now and we don’t need to build dollhouses or bikes until the wee hours on Christmas Eve I stayed up till 3 am finishing this quilt. oops.
My Dad has been a volunteer fire fighter for The Walt Disney Company for years and with fire season ramping up here in California, it reminded me that I had never shared this quilt! He has collected t-shirts from other fire departments over the years and several years ago when I made THIS VIDEO he had given them all to me for a quilt. I was thankful to finally get around to making this special quilt for him.
Along the bottom, I included the front chest logo of the t-shirts. I wanted to be able to include them somehow, so the t-shirts that had a more horizontal layout got cut shorter than the other shorts to allow for the smaller logos. All of the t-shirts are interfaced with featherlight interfacing to keep them from stretching during the sewing process.
I sashed the t-shirts with a fire engine red kona cotton fabric which worked brilliantly since all of the t-shirts I chose to use were navy blue. I have some more that are white, but I need to get a few more white ones to make him a white/tan/grey version. Thankfully he had enough navy shirts so that I could utilize this classic fire fighter color palette.
Since I decided to make this quilt so last minute, I had to work with the fabrics from my local Joann fabric and could not purchase anything online. They had this nice plaid cotton fabric in my exact color palette that I thought would make a good backing. I wanted to use a “fire fighter” print on the back, but I didn’t like any of the ones they had in stock at Joann. I really wanted it to be classy and not too “on the nose”.
The binding was a patriotic star print with the same color palette and I’m really happy with the way that it all worked together. I quilted “flames” in the sashing with a red thread so it’s a little hard to see and a sharp spiral in a navy thread along the t-shirts. I did not originally plan on having this much quilting on this quilt, but it sort of worked out this way. I didn’t like how my original plan looked, so I picked all of that out and went with this. It took longer, but I love the result. And the flames turned out so cool!
I should also mention that my Dad LOVED it and was so surprised on Christmas Day. The quilt now lives in his home office where he can enjoy all of the t-shirts rather than have them in a drawer.
Here he is peeking out from the top of the quilt so you can get an idea of scale. I don’t remember how big it ended up being, but a nice lap size. I hope this inspires you to make a t-shirt quilt with those meaningful t-shirts you have taking up room in your dresser! Happy Quilting!
Dianne C Daniel
Monday 20th of July 2020
Victoria M Johnson
Tuesday 14th of July 2020
Melanie— your Dad's quilt is exquisite! Every fireman is going to want one. This is a gift he will cherish forever. Victoria—
Monday 13th of July 2020
Beautiful! I started quilting last year because I wanted to make my husband a T-shirts quilt for birthday/Christmas... I think I completed 2 quilts before I started his quilt. What was I thinking. Did I mention that I was a beginner to sewing all together! L O L I watched your videos and made my first quilt. My sister helped me also who is very talented like you! Needless to say he loved it and uses for his bedding when he is on duty. Thank you for your videos that helped me!
Sunday 12th of July 2020
Wow that looks awesome. We are so grateful in Australia for all the firefighters from the USA that came and helped us this year. I have nothing but respect and admiration to those who volunteer to fight fires. May the Lord bless your wonderful father and good on you for honouring him with such a beautiful quilt. It is stunning.
Friday 10th of July 2020
Melanie, what a wonderful gift for your Dad! The quilt is absolutely beautiful and certainly made with love. I showed it to my husband who is a retired fire fighter and now he wants me to make one. Right now it is above my pay grade since I have only made one quilt, your beginning video. It is something to aspire too though. Fabulous job,