Lil’s Quilt

This is the tale of my niece and her tshirt quilt.

Long ago and far away (like last April and about 175 miles away….)  a very sweet girl contacted her adoring aunt and asked for a favor.  She had recently graduated from high school and was getting ready to go to the Culinary Institute in Napa Valley, California. While in high school this lovely girl, let’s call her Lil, had been on the Dance Team all four years.  She loves dance and competed while on the team.  She is the first cutie on the left.

lil dance pic 3

Dance is Lil’s thing and she hated to see it end – it puts her in her happy place.  (Though it looks torturous to me. Ouch.)

lil dance pic 4

Apparently being on dance team for four years means you will amass a collection of dance tshirts.  Lil became very attached to these tshirts as they held such fond memories for her. She didn’t really want to wear them anymore but didn’t want them to just sit in a drawer.  She texted me one day…. “Aunt Bernie, I saw something on Pinterest, it’s a tshirt quilt. (It all starts with Pinterest, right?)  I wondered if you would make one for me.”  (She had asked her mom but, let’s be honest, her mom would only be able to do this if she could figure out how to make it with duct tape and a stapler.  She may be the best mom ever, but not a sewist, that mom.) I had never made a quilt with knit fabric before so I saw it as a potential learning experience for me and a way to win points as super-aunt at the same time. Sure, I told her, love to.  I immediately received text after text telling me how wonderful I was for doing this.  Immediate gratification for me, that’s for sure.

Within a few weeks I received these (sorry, lousy quality on this photo). It was a bit daunting to look at these and try to figure out where to start.  Luckily, there is an excellent tutorial (yay Pinterest) from Cindi at  It is really detailed and the process is pretty much foolproof.

lils tshirts

After washing the shirts and lightly pressing them, I used the method described in the tutorial and cut them into equal squares.  Two of the shirts were tiny and I couldn’t get a big enough square (without using the sleeve, which would have left a big seam across the square) so I did have to piece them a tiny bit.  It wasn’t difficult though.  The squares then had to be reinforced with fusible interfacing or the knit would stretch too much while sewing, and then quilting this project. Really, the pressing, squaring, cutting and fusing took the most time.

lils tshirts cut

She had given me thirteen shirts and two of them had a back side that I thought she would want to preserve.  So I did 15 squares and made 5 rows of three squares each. I found a black fabric with tiny polka dots in pink, green, blue and purple and thought that would be a good match for the tshirts she had given me.  I created a sashing around the blocks to set each one apart from the other.


I had quite a bit of scrap that I used for a pieced border.  I needed to add some width since the layout was 3 x 5 squares.


When quilting this I decided to do it as a sampler.  I FMQ’d each square with a different pattern so that I would get in a lot of practice. (In retrospect, if doing this over again, I would quilt this with less density.  I think I quilted it a bit too tightly and it gave it a stiffness that I was not all too happy with.) Because some of the logos were so big, I felt like I needed to really quilt it up around the logo.  Looking back, I could do a lot less and get a good result.  I also quilted a wavy line through the sashing.


Lil asked for a flannel backing (“to make it snuggly”) in either black or blue.  So I came up with this:


For me the absolute best part of making this quilt was GIVING this quilt to Lil.  She was so grateful and left a voicemail on my phone that will never be deleted.  Soooo sweet.  Isn’t she?

lil quilt pic

By the way, dance team may be over but the dancing continues.  Now, aerial style.  Yikes!!!

lil dance pic 2

Love this girl!

Linking to the following: Linky Tuesday, Sew Cute Tuesday, Fabric Tuesday,WIP Wednesday, Let’s Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday, TGIFF, and finally, Finish It Up Friday. All of these links can be found at the tab at the top of my page, under Link Ups.  Check them out and see all of the amazing projects people are working on!

36 thoughts on “Lil’s Quilt

  1. Sarah Goer

    Great work! I made a queen size t-shirt quilt of my college shirts… way back before I free-motion quilted, so that thing is tied! It’s such a fun quilt to look at and remember those days. What a lovely gift!

    1. Bernie Post author

      I am hoping that Lil will love having this quilt — as a way to preserve all the memories of all those dance competitions. It was a fun gift to make! Have a great day Sarah.

  2. Lorna McMahon

    Wow, wow, wow! This quilt and the girl it has been made for are simply amazing! I love that you added the strips to the sides of the quilt. It really adds interest and helps pull it all together. And the backing is spectacular! Beautiful finish for a beautiful niece! Well done!

  3. Susan

    The dance quilt for Lil is fabulous and I know she will enjoy it forever. Thanks for sharing it and the story. I promised the boys I would make a college t-shirt quilt for them sometime. Scott has about 60-70 Baylor, which I think could make a double sided king quilt. His favorite Baylor t-shirt he doesn’t want to use yet. He has ask me to save a spot in the middle of the quilt for it. Brian on the other had only has about 12-15 Penn t-shirts. One sided twin???

    1. Bernie Post author

      Can you include other shirts for Brian, maybe high school? If not, just make it a lap size. Not as long as a twin? Then he can use it on the couch just to wrap up in. If you check out the tutorial that I linked back to in the post, you will find a great way to make a frame to cut and square the logos on the shirts. Love to see what you end up with!! Let me know if you need and help.


  4. Barb N

    Isn’t that the best? Making something for someone and you just know they’ll love it? You did a fantastic job. OMG – I can’t imagine getting into that position she’s in the last photo! Ah, to be young again . . . .

    1. Bernie Post author

      Yep, it’s the best! And I am not going to kid myself. I couldn’t have gotten into that position no matter what age!!

  5. Katie

    Oh wow that came out great! love the colors you chose to tie everything in. Congrats to your niece on the nest leg of her journey in life. Napa is quite beautiful!

  6. Jenn @ A Quarter Inch from the Edge

    It’s so nice to be able to make a special present for a loved one that is truly appreciated. I’ve done a couple of t-shirt quilts in the past and they’ve always been well received. No one ever wants to throw out that special shirt! I’ve also started saving the blank parts of the shirts once I cut the printed backs off. They make a great backing for homemade burp cloths!

    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi Jen,
      That is a great idea about the extra tshirt fabric. I wasn’t sure what to do with it and there was quite a bit left. Thanks for stopping by.


  7. Sherry

    Congrats on a wonderful finish! I love your quilt and love the pic of Lil wrapped in it – good job Auntie!

  8. Michelle C.

    You are so brave to tackle a quilt made with jersey knits. I’m way too much of a fraidy cat to try one. I know there are some things you would do differently on the next T-shirt quilt, but this one is lovely — and clearly loved.

    1. Bernie Post author


      It really wasn’t too hard. Just took a bit of time to fuse the interfacing to the knit and then it sewed up like any other block. Give it a try some time!

      Thanks for coming by!


  9. Vivian

    Best Aunt Ever! She will really cherish that quilt and its memories. Now just wait until you have to make a quilt of her Chef coats!

    1. Bernie Post author

      Thank you Vivian! After receiving the quilt, she left me the sweetest voicemail and truth be told, I still haven’t deleted it from my phone. 🙂 She is such a gentle soul.

    1. Bernie Post author

      Thanks Val. I agree about rejuvenating the posts. I know when I find a new blogger, I will hit the archives and read through some of the old posts. It is a fun way to get to know them.


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