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!