How To Make a Memory Tee Shirt Quilt

Celebrate your Child's Activities and Successes with a Warm, Cuddly, Soft Tee Shirt Quilt

Does your child have a stack of out-grown, screen printed tee shirts stacked in his or her closet -- shirts that will never be worn again, but are just too important to get rid of? With very little knowledge of how to make a quilt, you can create a blanket that will be treasured and used for years to come.

What you need:

  1. Tee shirts --- Raid your child's closet for 16-32 tee shirts that either no longer fit, or are from every vacation or trip taken the last few years, or from every sport involved in. Not only can this serve as a way to clean out a closet; it can also be a trip down memory lane as the child picks out his or her most important tee shirts.
  2. 12" x 12" cardboard template --- Find an old, about-to-be-discarded box large enough to cut out a 12" x 12" square.
  3. Sewing machine (optional, but strongly recommended) --- A sewing machine will make this project go much faster, but hand stitching will also work. It all depends on what you have available and how fast you want to make the quilt.
  4. Batting --- A roll of polyester batting at least 48" x 48". Your local craft store is a great resource for this.
  5. Pencil, scissors, straight pins, thread, needlepoint needle (or darning needle), and yarn --- One skein of 4-ply worsted weight acrylic yarn, a matching or contrasting color, will work best for tying the quilt.
  6. Bias tape, additional fabric or tee shirts for edging -- This is also optional depending on how you would like to finish the edges of the quilt.


  1. Smooth out a tee shirt on a flat, hard surface and place the template over the screen-printed design so it encompasses all or most of the design. Trace around the template and then cut out both layers of tee shirt (front and back) so for every tee shirt you have two twelve-inch squares. If there is a design on both the front and back, you may want to do each side individually instead of cutting out the two squares at the same time. Repeat this process on all tee shirts until you have thirty-two squares.
  2. Choose sixteen squares appropriate for one side of the quilt and choose sixteen squares for the other side. There are a myriad of choices for how these squares can be arranged. You can choose to have all the designed squares on one side of the quilt and then use the plain-colored squares for the other side. You can alternate designed squares with plain-color squares to create a checkered-board effect. Or consider alternating dark-colored tee shirt squares with light-colored squares to create another style of checkered-board effect. The best way to make a choice is to position sixteen squares, four squares by four squares, on the floor or a large table. Position each square to your liking. Once you have laid out the squares for one side, leave them in place, ready for assembly.


  1. Sew squares together --- Looking at the sixteen squares spread out, count one, two, three, and four across for first row; five, six, seven, and eight for second row; nine, ten, eleven, and twelve for third row; and thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen for fourth row. In the following order, sew squares:
    • Sew right edge of square one to left edge of square two.
    • Sew right edge of square two to left edge of square three.
    • Sew right edge of square three to left edge of square four, completing one row. Set aside.
    • Repeat for second row, third row, and fourth row. You now have four strips of four squares.
    • Sew bottom edge of row one to top edge of row two.
    • Sew bottom edge of row two to top edge of row three.
    • Sew bottom edge of row three to top edge of row four. You now have the 48" x 48" top side of the quilt.
    • Repeat, as above, and create the bottom side of the quilt.
  2. Layer pieces for quilt --- Place the bottom side of the quilt, wrong side facing up, on a large table or the floor. Unroll the batting and place on top, matching all edges. Place top side of the quilt, right side facing up, on top of batting. For ease of tying the quilt, pin at center of each square.
  3. Tie quilt -- Using yarn and needlepoint needle, tie all layers together at each corner of each square by pushing the needle and yarn through the top layer, batting, and bottom layer; then push back up through all layers. Repeat once; then tie beginning tail with ending tail into a double knot and trim. You can also tie at the center of each square to make the quilt robust during the numerous washings ahead.
  4. Perimeter trim --- There are a variety of ways to trim this quilt. It just depends on how much time you want to spend. The easiest and most cost-effective way is to turn the rough edges in about 1/4 inch, pin, then stitch together with the sewing machine. You can then add additional yarn ties at each coordinating corner. Additional choices would be to machine stitch a fabric strip through all layers, fold over and machine stitch. Bias tape can be used in the same fashion.


  1. When working with tee shirt fabric, be sure to pin before sewing, as the fabric will shift and stretch.
  2. Corners do not need to be perfect because you are going to tie beautiful knots at each intersection.
  3. Surrender to a few minutes of remembering those great vacations or sporting events or wonderful moments when your child was having a great time. And be assured, your child will also be wrapped in irreplaceable memories and love when he is away from home.



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Be sure to check out my latest article -- How to Keep Memories Alive. If you have photographs, there are some creative ideas. Thanks for checking out this article.

By Marion Cornett