Thursday, October 29, 2015

10 Ways to Cut a Fat Quarter

How many of us have a huge pile of fat quarters that you don't know what to do with? You can cut these fat quarters into the popular pre-cuts that fabric shops are offering to make quilts and use them that way.  Popular sizes are  layer cakes (10" squares), charm packs (5" squares), and jelly rolls (2 5" x 44" strips).

As most of you know, fat quarters are a quarter of a yard. But, instead of cutting 9" the width of the fabric (WOF*), it is 18" cut WOF, then that is cut in half. In other words, this is a half yard cut in half lengthwise and then crosswise. The fat quarter should be approximately 18" x 22".

If you are lucky and get a fat quarter from someone who thinks in 'meters' instead of 'yards' you will get a few extra inches in your fat quarter.

*WOF - Width of Fabric

Here are the Numbers:

You can cut the following from one fat quarter:
    1. (99) 2" squares
    2. (50) 2" squares
    3. (42) 3" squares
    4. (30) 3" squares
    5. (20) 4" squares
    6. (16) 4" squares
    7. (12) 5" squares
    8. (12) 5" squares
    9. ( 9) 6" squares
    10. ( 6) 6" squares

      And a Bonus- Number 11
    11. ( 2) 10" squares (not very efficient)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

So You Want To Make A T-Shirt Quilt!

So You Want To Make A T-Shirt Quilt!

While T-Shirt Quilts of Texas would love to make a custom t-shirt quilt for you, sometimes you just gotta do it yourself!

Should You Make Your Own T-Shirt Quilt?

So, you know just enough about sewing that you want to try it yourself. Great. Here are some things to consider.


  • Basic sewing supplies. Rulers, rotary cutter and mat. Seam ripper. Masking tape.
  • Sewing Machine. Basic sewing supplies (thread, scissors, pins, tape measure and so on.)
  • Rotary cutter and mat. You can use scissors, but you need the rotary cutter to get an accurate cut before piecing.
  • Time. Allow 30 - 60 hours depending on your skill and comfort level.
  • T-Shirts. - The more the merrier. But, keep it under control. BIG is heavier and harder to manage.
  • Fusible Interfacing - This is what makes the t-shirt fabric manageable. Don't skip this step. Whether you or a professional quilter is quilting this, this makes the t-shirt fabric easier to work with. Without it, your quilter has to spend more time making the t-shirt fabric lie flat and even.
  • Fabric. Amount depends on size of quilt. PLEASE use good quality fabrics. Don't spend all the time creating this quilt using low quality fabrics.
  • Apply fusible to back of rough-cut t-shirt
  • Batting/wadding. This is usually a 80/20 blend of cotton and polyester, or some folks will use a 100% poly. Your choice.
  • Iron and ironing surface. We use a professional iron press here in the shop, which only takes a couple of seconds per shirt. You will probably have to use a domestic iron. Just follow the product instructions and apply to back of t-shirts.
  • Plastic Square Ruler. Optional, but very helpful to size your blocks.

Creating the Top

  • Lay out the t-shirt pieces into a pleasing design.
  • If you are using sashing, add that to either one side or the bottom of the shirt squares (except the last on in the row/column).
  • Sew together.
  • Add borders if desired. (We get a LOT of t-shirt tops. Many times they have us select the backing and add a border to match the backing).

Finishing Up

  • Quilting. Next, you are going to turn the 'top' into a quilt. A quilt is defined as 3 layers with some sort of stitching holding those layers together. Probably the easiest way to do this is to send that finished top to your longarm quilter. She will probably have batting and backing fabrics available for your convenience.
  • If budget does not allow for a professional longarm quilter, then you can either quilt it on your machine or 'tie' it. We don't recommend tieing it, as the quilt won't be very stable and won't stand up to laundry over time.
  • Binding. The last step is binding. That is the step to finish all the raw edges of the quilt. Again, your longarm quilter should be able to take care of that for a reasonable charge.
There you have it. T-Shirt quilts in a nutshell.

T-Shirt Quilts of Texas is a full service professional business that can help you complete your quilt at most any stage. We also 'fix' quilts made by non-professionals. If you get started, and don't feel you are going to be able to complete your quilt. Take pictures of your quilt in process, email it to us, and we can let you know if we can help you get it finished.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Houston Quilt Market 2015 - Last Day

It's our last day of Quilt Market, and we struggled to squeeze in some last sights before heading out.  We would have stayed until Monday, but we have  to take a day or so to catch up and get ready for Quilt Festival!   We walked the whole show On Saturday, and had to come back this morning  to make sure we didn't miss anything and tried to visit all of our quilty friends.  Thank you for another amazing Quilt Market, Houston!

We checked several of the fabric vendors and have several new fabrics ordered for the new year, as well as re-stocking many of our old favorites. I think you will find that T-Shirt Quilts of Texas has the largest variety of fabrics to choose from, than any other professional  T-Shirt Quilt company in the country.

Paula Barnes, Betty and Mary Ellen
The first stop we made was at Red Crinoline Quilts, with our good friends from Houston Paula Barnes and Mary Ellen Robinson.  they have a new book just being released.

Overview of Market floor
We walked, shopped and checked out all the new fabrics.  Placed orders with several of the fabric vendors like Quilting Treasures, Moda, P&B Fabrics, Troy Fabrics, We walked, shopped and checked out all the new fabrics.  Placed orders with several of the fabric vendors like Quilting Treasures, Moda, P&B Fabrics, Troy Fabrics,customers.

Selecting fabrics with fabric vendor.
Oh, did I mention that there was a little bit of 'weather'?  Part of hurricane Patricia was blowing through.  Totally missed the storm, as we were shopping  at the GRB (George Brown Convention center) and hanging out at the Hilton.

PS- we have a Janome 350E embroidery machine for sale. One year old. Prefer that someone pick it up rather than shipping it.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Photos on Your T-Shirt Quilt

At T-Shirt Quilts of Texas, we have printed photos on fabric for over ten years.  Nothing new about that.  However, we have found that while we can print high resolution quality photos on fabric and set the ink per product instruction, we find that the resulting product quality is not to our satisfaction over a period of time.  We are creating quilts to last a lifetime, and find that the images on fabric 'might not' last as long.  Not good.
National Honor Society Logo 

While we would follow the manufacturer instructions for setting the ink, there were potential problems that we  could not control.  According to the instructions,  you 'should' be able to include the photo in your quilt and launder it with same results as a traditionally pieced quilt.  We had one gal that repeatedly printed the color pictures on her fancy laser printer at work.  Problem was that it HAS to be an inkjet printer and not a laser printer.  We couldn't convince her of that.   The photos she printed and sent in literally faded from the squares about two weeks after the quilt was quilted and completed.  Again, not good.

What we have found, is that most t-shirt quilt owners throw their quilt into the laundry using harsh soaps.  Not surprisingly, that even though we followed the manufacturer instructions, we found that the images are fading much faster than expected.  So, we changed how we do things.  We no longer print the photos on fabric, and have decided to let the experts take care of this aspect of the process.

T-Shirt Quilts of Texas Logo
What did we do?  We have partnered with VistaPrint to print high quality images directly on t-shirts. While Vista-Print only offers shirts in white, gray and black, you can be assured that the resulting product will hold up like the rest of the t-shirts in your quilt.   Of course, you can use any of the many online outlets that let you use your image to print on a t-shirt.  Different companies will offer different color t-shirts if that is what you would like. See the header on our homepage.  It was created at CustomInk so that we could get the orange t-shirt to match our logo.
Customer Image added to T-Shirt

Note-  If you have more than one image to print, just print it on the backside of the same shirt for a discounted rate. 

We are happy to provide this service for you.   We do have to charge for this service due to the time involved.. But, if you are feeling courageous, just click the VistaPrint link. You 'should' get a ten dollar credit towards your purchase.  If you are already a VistaPrint  customer, then go ahead and design your t-shirt online and have it shipped directly to us.  Or, order it ahead of time and include it with your shirts that you send to us.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Choosing Backing Fabric for a T-Shirt Quilt

The term tone on tone refers to a printed fabric that is made by combining different shades and tones of the same color.
Tone on tone fabrics often appear to be solid when viewed from a distance, but their printed motifs become recognizable on closer inspection.  Tone on tone fabrics  add subtle, visual texture to a quilt without the busyness of a multi-color print.
Personally, I rarely use a solid color fabric, because tone on tones serve the same purpose and do not appear as 'flat' as solids. Black is the exception, we do use a deep, dark saturated black as an accent border.
Backing Material

The backing material is the fabric that is seen on the bottom side of a quilt.  At T-Shirt Quilts of Texas we have over 500 bolts of fabric in stock to select that perfect fabric for your quilt.  We don't use solid color fabrics as they have a horrible tendency to show lint,  pet hair and just everyday use.    We use fabrics commonly referred to as 'tone-on-tone'.   These are fabrics that add a visual  'texture'  and 'depth' to a quilt without adding the more cluttered look of a multi-color print or the FLAT color of a solid fabric.  The professional quilting shows up beautifully on both the front and the back of the quilt.A
The binding is the fabric that is sewn around the outside of a T-shirt quilt. You see about ½" of the binding from the top, side and back of a quilt. Bindings are used to cover the raw edges of the 3 layers of the quilt (quilt top, batting and backing materials). Generally, the binding fabric used is the same fabric as used in the quilt.

Note: We do not use white for binding because it is difficult to keep clean while we are working with it and it will show all the dirt. White will quickly become grungy.

At T-Shirt Quilts of Texas we only use the highest quality quilt shop fabrics.  We are quilt-makers and quality of YOUR finished quilt is very important to us.