I believe this tutorial is the easiest to understand actually seeing it being done, so be sure to watch the video above after you read through the steps to help everything make sense.
How to Make a Tie-Dye T-shirt Blanket in One Weekend
If you save t-shirts you never wear just because the graphics are special, this is the easy DIY t-shirt project for you!
I saved mountains of shirts over the years but put off creating this blanket because I was intimated that it would be difficult. Once I actually started I was shocked at how easy it is to create a t-shirt blanket or quilt. This also could totally be wearable as a poncho if you created a hole with a zig-zag edge for your head in the middle.
I first started with a pile of old shirts -- you know the type. The ones made with that material that shrinks, isn't flattering and is rough on the skin. I loved the graphics because of the memories but absolutely never wore them.
Thanks to my obsession of bleach tie-dying everything I decided to continue the trend on the blanket as a new spin on an old classic. I mixed equal parts bleach and water and then sprinkled some of the mixture onto my shirts in the tub.
Be careful to watch your shirts, some will change faster than others. When you achieve your desired color you should remove the shirt and wash it as soon as possible so the bleach no longer eats away at the shirt. Be aware leaving the bleach on too long will cause the shirts to shred and destroy them.
Once I had the shirts bleached to my desired state I washed and dried them and then measured the biggest graphic, recording its height and width in inches. When you take these measurements be sure to include a little bit of extra space at the top and sides so the graphic is not super close to what will become your quilt square.
I added a seam allowance of 1/2 an inch to the height and width of the biggest graphics. My final measurement for each block I would cut was 12X13. Your measurements may vary depending on the size of your tee shirt graphics. I then detached back and front of the shorts by cutting up the side seams.
I cut a recycled mailing box in 12x13 dimensions to serve as my "pattern" to cut out the blocks.
I then detached back and front of the shorts by cutting up the sides. This prevented me from accidentally cutting into the back or front of the shirt while cutting my blanket squares.
I cut pieces of lightweight fusible interfacing larger than 12x13 and ironed the bumpy side down onto the back of the shirt. The fusible interfacing created more structure to the squares so they wouldn't stretch or move around as easily under the sewing machine needle.
Cutting the interfacing a little larger than 12x13 will create slight interfacing waste but I preferred doing it this way so that I knew there wouldn't be any gaps or parts without interfacing.
After the interfacing was fused I used my mail box "pattern" and a rotary cutter to cut around the box, creating perfect 12x13 inch squares of t-shirts with fused on interfacing.
Once all my squares were cut I experimented with my format until I had each square where I wanted it. I then stacked them into piles. column one together and so on. (My quilt was 4x4 squares, the last row is not visible in this picture.)
This is where the video becomes very helpful to understand the pinning and sewing which is actually super simple but makes more sense shown in action.
I sewed together each column by taking the first square and the second square.... flipping the second square over onto the first square...
Like this so both right sides were touching and the second square is upside down.
Pinned them together...
And sewed a straight stitch along where I pinned to attach them. When this is done you'll add the next square to the bottom of the second square using that same flip and pin method.
Once I had four separate rows I sewed them together with the flip and pin method.
When the entire t-shirt front of the blanket was sewn together I measured the whole thing, and then cut a matching fleece piece with those measurements.
I sewed the t-shirt squares and fleece right sides together around 3.5 sides and then flipped it inside out and finished the last seam with a hand-sewn whip stitch. I tact'ed down the t-shirt blanket and the fleece at the intersection of each square with a simple "x" with embroidery thread. This keeps both sides of the blanket together in the middle.
And my blanket was done! Its now my favorite couch blanket and I'm so glad I found a better use for my old t-shirt memories. It has held up perfectly and is machine washable. If I could change anything I would add one more row of squares to make the blanket 4x5 so it would be a little longer.
If you try this project yourself tag me on instagram at @sew_much2wear. I'd love to see how it comes out!
- Old t-shirts
- Lightweight fusible interfacing
- Cozy and soft fleece