Fleece T-Shirt Quilt Pattern & Tutorial

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easy fleece t-shirt quilt tutorial
Wellness Mama » Blog » Motherhood » Fleece T-Shirt Quilt Pattern & Tutorial

I came up with the idea for this quilt when my husband decided he had too many shirts from college and was going to get rid of a bag of them. He would never be able to wear all these shirts, but they represented memories for him and I wanted to preserve them.

I looked into options of having them quilted with a quilting machine, which looked great, but had a lot more steps and was going to cost several hundred dollars. I’d have to send it off to have it quilted and there wasn’t even time to finish it before Christmas.

This left figuring out a way to do it myself. I had the idea of using fleece as a backing and leaving out the batting entirely, but every search I tried online said it wasn’t a good idea and the lady at the fabric store said it couldn’t be done.

I highly recommend this type of t-shirt quilt for several reasons:

  • No hand sewing required
  • No interfacing, starch or other backing needed
  • No batting or inner layer needed
  • Easy to sew
  • Really warm!
  • Machine washable!

What’s this? Can’t be done?…. a Challenge!

I found fleece on sale for $3 a yard and bought three yards. In hindsight, I would have gotten a couple extra yards in case I needed it, but three yards was just enough for a 5 shirt by 4 shirt quilt (16 inch blocks).

After some trial and error, I figured out a pattern that I (hoped) thought would work and decided to give it a try. The confounding factor was that I had two weeks to get it done before Christmas and I could only do it while my hubby was gone and had to have all trace of it cleaned up before he got home so he wouldn’t suspect it.

Add four kids to the mix and I really wasn’t sure I could finish it by Christmas. Thankfully, the pattern worked and turned out to be easy!

I finished this is about 8 hours total (split up over about 5 days when he wasn’t home) and the end result is a very soft, warm and machine washable quilt!

My next project is to make smaller versions for the kids from some of their baby clothes that have special memories.

If you have some old t-shirts that are full of memories, this is a great way to up-cycle them and make them useful.

Materials & Supplies Need for Quilt

  • old t-shirts
  • fleece (all one color, or a mix if you want a patch-work back also)- about a yard per every 5-6 shirts
  • A lot of thread! I went through 2 spools. I used white so it would show on the back but any color would work.
  • Pinking shears (optional but recommended) or fabric scissors
  • A paper grocery bag or large piece of cardboard
  • A marker, pencil or colored chalk
  • A lot of pins
  • A sewing machine
  • A large flat surface (I used the floor)
  • Patience 🙂

Easy t-shirt quilt pattern design with fleece back diy

How to Make The Fleece T-Shirt Quilt

  1. Cut a 16×16 inch square from the paper bag or cardboard. This is your pattern for each square.
  2. Lay the pattern over the back or front of each shirt (whichever part you want on the quilt) and make sure the design is centered as much as possible.
  3. Use the marker, pencil or chalk to draw around the pattern onto the shirt. I used a permanent marker and just
    cut right inside the line so no marker was left on the part of the shirt that would be in the quilt. You could just try to cut around the pattern, but I found that it is very difficult to keep the shirt from moving and creating an uneven square. (TIP: Save the extra pieces of t-shirt and cut into smaller squares to use for cleaning rags)t shirt quilt easy tutorial diy seams
  4. Once all the shirts are cut out, use the pattern to cut out an equal number of fleece squares.
  5. Match up each t-shirt with a fleece square with back sides together and the good side of the t-shirt and the fleece facing out.
  6. On each square, sew the diagonal pattern (see tutorial picture). Sew diagonally down one side first. Then, move out approximately 3.5 inches on either side and sew. Move another 3.5 inches from each of these and sew again. This will make a total of 5 diagonal “seams” through the t-shirt.
  7. Repeat the same diagonal 5 seams, going to opposite way (see picture if this is confusing). This will leave a diagonal quilted pattern on each square.
  8. Repeat with all squares.
  9. Once all squares have been “quilted”, sew t-shirts into rows first and then sew the rows together to make the quilt.
  10. To sew rows: Put the backs (the fleece side) of the squares together and sew with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. This will leave 1/2 inch of rough edges on the front side of the quilt. If you are using pinking shears, trim the seam allowances at this point (very slightly) to leave a zig zag edge.
  11. Fold each side of the seam over and sew 1/4 inch from the original seam to make a 1 inch border between squares (see picture)
  12. Continue to do this to create all the rows.quilted t-shirt quilt pattern tutorial squares
  13. When rows are done, place two rows together with backs touching so that seams will show on the front side of the quilt.
  14. Sew with 1/2 inch seam allowance, trim with pinking shears if using. Fold down and top stitch at 1/4 inch to leave 1 inch border between rows. (The same way you did between squares)
  15. Repeat this until all rows are together.
  16. For the outside edges: Fold them over 1/4 inch, then 1/4 inch again for a total of 1/2 inch folded over. Top stitch in the middle of this to create a finished edge (see picture). Alternatively, you can trim around the whole thing with pinking shears and just fold over once at 1/2 inch to create a zig zag border on the edges as well.
  17. Trim all threads (this takes the longest!)
  18. Enjoy your quilt!

Note: I am definitely not a professional seamstress and probably didn’t even use the correct terms in the instructions above. In the name of full disclosure, I also admit that while I measured each square to make sure it was 16×16, I did not measure each diagonal seam on each square. I just estimated and it came out ok.

t-shirt quilt tutorial pattern fleece back easy cheap

For more DIY gift ideas, check out this post. 

Ever made a quilt using old/worn out t-shirts? Have questions on following this tutorial? Share below!

This DIY t-shirt quilt is an easy beginning pattern that produces a high quality quilt. Fleece is used as the backing to save time and money.

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


32 responses to “Fleece T-Shirt Quilt Pattern & Tutorial”

  1. Laurinda Avatar

    This looks doable (I hope!), but I don’t enjoy the heat or feel of fleece. Could I use the same system you did with a different fabric? Maybe a soft flannel? And, if I used flannel, could I cut matching squares out of an old blanket or something to put between the two layers and just do everything else the way you did? I don’t know squat about quilting, so please tell me the truth if that won’t work! Thank you so much!

  2. Deb Troutman Avatar
    Deb Troutman

    Does fleece need to be pre-shrunk before use? I made four squares before thinking about this… Thanks.

  3. Deb Avatar

    Am going to try your idea rather than have the expense of stabilizer, etc. How did you keep the knit t-shirts from rolling at the cut edges? TY for sharing your great idea!

  4. Meagan Avatar

    This looks great! I’ve been hanging onto some old t-shirts so I could do something like this. I hate when people tell me I CAN’T get something done. Once I asked a professional chimney guy about installing this wood stove I had into my existing fireplace and he said it was impossible so I went ahead and did it myself and now it looks and works wonderfully.

  5. Alicia Velazquez Avatar
    Alicia Velazquez

    Did you ever make the one out of baby clothes? if so can you give me the link please. I am a beginner sewer but this looks simple enough.
    Thank you in advance <3

  6. Agnes Gillman Avatar
    Agnes Gillman

    I am making a tee shirt quilt using different size tee shirt pieces. I’ve cut away much of the blank parts and kept the logos intact. What I wanted to do was stich down the front to the fleece backing (also batting) but then the backing will have an uneven pattern of stitching – if I were to stich all together. Any suggestions? Does it matter if the stitching on the back is irregular?

  7. Becky Avatar

    May I use a sweatshirt along with the tshirts? Have you made one just sewing an X through the tshirt s?

  8. Amy Avatar

    Hi! Great tutorial – just wondering how many t-shirts you ended up using in total? And how big was the final product?

  9. Nettie Avatar

    I’ve made a couple of t-shirt throws and I sewed clear quilting thread. It does the job of quilting but you don’t see the color of the thread.

  10. Nancy Avatar

    I am about to make this . The t shirts vary (the design or logo) in size. Can I “stitch /quilt them unto the 16′ square and have more of the fleece showing on some blocks ? These t’s are a 12y/o grandson…and so some are small. Thanks..and I love this idea,

    1. Sue Avatar

      Nancy, I made this for my son for HS graduation out of all his sports T-shirts . Some were from when he was 8 or so. When they were just a little too small I used the back of the shirt to cut strips and added them to the smaller square. To center the design I had to sew the neck line trim to a strip across the top and even cut beyond the seams to the sleeves and laid them flat. It all attached nicely to the fleece and added a nice dimension to the quilt. Sue

  11. Sandi Avatar

    I bought 3 fleece throws (50×60) instead of fleece by the yard. I am thinking of positioning the interfaced shirts on the fleece throws for the backing. What do you think of this idea??

  12. Nicole Avatar

    I am in the process of making this. I LOVE quilting the squares together with the fleece. The problem is, when I did the top stitching it didn’t look very good. In fact, it was awful and sloppy looking. So I’m going to make a change. I’m going to sew the squares together with the t-shirt sided facing and do the stitching on the backside. Depending on how this looks, I may leave it, it I may put a sheet backing so I don’t see the raw edges. I’ll let you know how it works! I LoVE the quilted squares on their own, just not the raw edges as the border between. Thanks for the ideas!

  13. Irene Tiger Avatar
    Irene Tiger

    I should have done this! I just gave away a bunch of old t-shirts…

  14. Karen Curtis Avatar
    Karen Curtis

    I love love love these quilt instructions! I am 70 years old, and a
    beginning sewist. I wanted to make a t-shirt quilt so very much, so of
    course I turn to the only help I can find; Mr. Google. I was so
    discouraged because all of the instructions were bummers; I had to buy
    stabilizer for one thing. I did not want to put money into my quilt
    because they are going to a leprosy compound in the Philippines, and it
    already cost me $75.00 to mail my scrap quilts. (very pretty ones — but
    I can’t follow a pattern.)

    I cut my jersey square for a pattern out of a
    cereal box, and lay it on top of the jersey. I anchor the pattern with
    weights, and cut around with my rotary cutter. the jersey doesn’t move
    around at all, so I don’t draw around it. I am all set, and a happy
    sewist thanks to you. Karen Curtis in Salem Oregon, Grandma to 7.

  15. Christina Wouters Avatar
    Christina Wouters

    My sister and I are looking at using your pattern for a quilt for her. Two questions. 1) If the fleece square is as big as the tshirt square, how is there any extra fabric left around the edges to make the rows, etc and be between the tshirts? AND 2) What color thread do you use so it won’t show up as much on the tshirts? Thanks!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      I used white thread, and the extra part of the t-shirt just gets folded under when sewn…

  16. Larissa Avatar

    This is a really great idea. Another good way to finish off your seams between blocks (and maybe a lot quicker) would be to do as a rag quilt i.e. double stitch the seam so it is nice and strong and then when the whole thing is finished (don’t trim) cut slits about 5mm – 1 cm apart (depending on your preference) almost to seam but not quite. Then wash, this gives a ruffled/fringe like finish between each square. It won’t fray, as both t-shirting and fleece are stretch fabrics.

  17. Gina Jones Ogle Avatar
    Gina Jones Ogle

    This is a great idea! I did make a traditional t-shirt quilt for my daughter. I spent a small fortune on the interfacing and it was very time consuming to iron it on all the t-shirt squares. I was on a tight deadline, so I never did get the top stitching done. It’s now back on my sewing table waiting for me to top stitch so she can start laundering the blanket. Needless to say, my husbands t-shirt quilt never got made. It would be much easier to quilt each square before it is sewen together. My one suggestion (if you don’t want the t-shirt to show on your fold over boarders) on step 14; sew together at a half inch and then trim the t-shirt portion to 1/4 inch before folding over and top stitching at a 1/4 inch. But this is an extra step and yours looks fun & usable! I also bought a 16×16 inch acrylic square at the local fabric shop to speed the cutting process up. Again, great job! You wouldn’t believe all the extra steps & costs involved in the first pattern I followed. Looks like I now have a Christmas idea for my hard to buy for husband!

  18. Donna Avatar

    This seems so much more doable than a “traditional” quilt! I think I can do this…thank you!

  19. Kerstin Avatar

    I love this idea!  I had looked at doing this with shirts, but was looking at the interfacing and all the other stuff…so the shirts have sat in a box for YEARS waiting for me to get motivated to do this…but this is definitely doable, and might even be useful with an old quilt of my husband’s (with fabrics from his childhood) that is falling apart…Thanks!

  20. Valerie Avatar

    I was looking at PAYING someone to make a quilt from my husband’s t-shirts.  Hah!  No longer.  Thank you, Wellness Mama!

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