Graduation time

This is the best graduation gift you can give to those kids going off to college, or a new job, or apartment life.

I have made this T-shirt quilt many times and I am always amazed by the variety of shirts that I get when I request the t-shirts for the project.

It is a simple project, easy and something you can do with the recipient if you want to include them.

  • at least 35 t-shirts for a twin size quilt. But don’t forget you can use other kinds of shirts too.
  • 7-8 yards of backing fabric. This is the perfect place to use up leftover fabric, or buy 7-8 yards of different fabrics for a nice variety on the back. I live in the north so often I use flannel for the back.
  • a twin size batting
  • a serger or zigzag machine stitch
  1. Start out by using that big 15” square we all have and cut out both front and backs of the t-shirts. Leave a little extra around the edges, because you will square it up later.
  2. Do the same on the backing fabric and the batting.


  1. Divide the shirts into piles of light and dark
  2. Divide the fabric for the back into two piles one will only go on the back of only light squares and one will only go on the back of dark squares. You want to divide up the backing fabric into two different piles so you will have different fabrics on the darks and completely different fabrics on the light t-shirt piles, that will go either on one or the either so when you start to arrange the squares for the finally layout, if you do a light/dark checkerboard arrangement of the t-shirts on the front you won’t get any repeat fabrics next to each other on the back.


  1. Make individual sandwiches with the t-shirts, batting and backing fabric. I do all of them at once and that way when I start quilting I just have to pick one up and go.
  2. Spray the batting with 505 spray adhesive before you layer the t-shirt on the top of it. This will keep the t-shirts from slipping around while you quilt them.
  3. Once the squares are all quilted, square them up again to an exact 15” square, or 14”. It really doesn’t matter as long as they are all the same size.
  4. Lay them out on the floor to look at and arrange the colors. Can you see the Hawaiian shirt on the left side of the above picture. They don’t have to be all t-shirts.

Serge the rows together in a chain stitching fashion. Once all the rows are together I put on a traditional binding made from the left over fabrics of the backing fabric.

These quilts really wear like iron and are great fun. They also are not so precious that if they get ruined at collage you don’t feel bad about it.

I think it would be a fun idea to display this at the graduation party and let the recipient’s friends sign the quilt with a sharpie marker.

If you run short of t-shirts you can always use the backs of the shirts. Sometimes the logos on the back are more interesting anyway.
I  have to say I love this project.

One response on “Graduation time

  1. Jan

    Thanks for sharing. This came at a great time since I am close to putting together a tee shirt quilt for my mom. I was also discussing this type of quilt at my vet’s office this am. I have now sent a link to this page to them and shared this post via my facebook. Love your blog AND quilts.

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