T-Shirt Quilt Tutorial with Kathy Decker and Lisa Bongean

Have you ever wondered what to do with those old t-shirts and sweatshirts that you just can’t seem to part with? I think we all have a few hoarded away – whether they be keepsakes of our kids growing up, or memories from our own wardrobes from back in the day. We stash them safely away in our closets, keeping them for years on end – but for what? I keep saying to myself I’m going to do something with these old things…someday… I swear! I’m happy to say I finally have a solution. My friend Kathy Decker has a great idea that gets those old keepsakes out of the basement and onto your wall or bed, with a simple and fun t-shirt quilt and pillow project!

If you know anything about my friend Kathy, it’s that she’s not only a great quilter but also an excellent teacher. She was gracious enough to spend some time with me last week in the studio where she shared a really cool way to honor a special person or time in your life – all while recycling old shirts into something new and creative. The example she brought was a piece she recently did for a childhood friend who’s mother passed away a few years ago. Kathy’s mother had been best friends with the woman who passed for 55 years, so of course she said yes to the project. She explained, “My friend’s career was in sports so she took her mom to a lot of district championships, the final four, and that sort of thing. These t-shirts were pretty special to her. My friend was a coach at Culver Stockton and this one says, ‘Coach’s Mom,’ so I’m sure it got a lot of use a long time ago back in the 90’s.” What a cool way to commemorate such an important aspect of their lives. The idea of giving these old shirts new life in such a creative way really warms my heart.

I’m super excited that Kathy is here to take the mystery out of expert t-shirt quilting and pillow making for us. I wanted to share her wisdom on the topic with you all, so we put together a great little step-by-step tutorial where she explains all her tips and tricks for you to get the perfect t-shirt quilt every time. You can check that out by visiting my, “Stitch with Lisa Bongean” YouTube page or by hitting the link below! Lisa Bongean and Kathy Decker showing t-shirt pillow examples.

Another reason I like the idea of t-shirt quilts and pillows is that you really don’t need a lot of supplies to make one. Obviously, you’ll need a bunch of old t-shirts and sweatshirts to get started, but once you’ve selected which shirts you’ll be using the rest is pretty simple. If you’re already an avid quilter, you will probably have most of the supplies you’ll need already on hand for this project.Lisa Bongean watches Kathy Decker demo how to make a t-shirt quilt

I have a complete list of the supplies Kathy uses listed in the comments under the video. She does a great job thoroughly explaining each one and how to use it. If you don’t already have all of the recommended supplies, you can find them on our website by clicking the button below.

If you’re making a t-shirt memory project but don’t have a lot of shirts to use – or if you have shirts that are too large to fit into a quilt, don’t worry. Pillows are another way you can do this project without needing a ton of shirts to complete it. The technique for preparing t-shirts for pillows is basically the same as the quilt, but requires only one shirt to finish the project. Once your shirt is ready, you can watch my Covered Zipper Pillow Tutorial for instructions on how to complete your pillow. Do you have a lot of shirts but simply like the idea for pillows better? That’s ok too! Pillows are a great idea for someone with a lot of grandchildren or extended family members. This way, you have several pieces to pass out to each child or family member as a way to honor your loved one. In other words, many shirts can turned into one full quilt or multiple pillows to share with family and friends.

I hope you are as excited about t-shirt quilts and pillows as I am. I can’t tell you how many old t-shirts and other garments I’ve kept over the years simply because the nostalgia connected to them is just to great to let go. What a nice idea for something to snuggle and cuddle with when you’re missing the person it once belonged to.

Make sure you check-in with us tomorrow on 2-22-2022. Considering the date has so many, “2’s” in it we miiiight just have to come up with something clever and fun to go along with it… And don’t forget about, “Stitch with Lisa Bongean LIVE Thursday on YouTube! We have been getting a lot of questions regarding our Red & White Challenge, so I’ll be going over more specific details on that. We’ll also be discussing my quilt, Wildflower with my good friend and special guest Linda Hrcka from The Quilted Pineapple in MI. I’m really looking forward to it, I always love chatting it up with Linda! I hope to see you all there! ~Lisa

4 responses to “T-Shirt Quilt Tutorial with Kathy Decker and Lisa Bongean”

  1. Connie R Avatar
    Connie R

    I’ve used the June Tailor interfacing that is recommended in the t- shirt quilt supplies and absolutely love it! It works like a dream to keep the shirts easy to work with yet stays soft.

  2. thequiltingblog Avatar

    T-shirt quilt and quilted jacket are all the rage recently.
    I hole 2-22-2022 will be a lucky number 🙂

  3. Susan Avatar

    Your covered zipper pillow tutorial is coming up as “Sorry, you are not allowed to preview drafts.”

    1. lisabongean Avatar

      Hi Susan! Thank you SO MUCH for bringing this to my attention! Technology I tell ya… Works great unless it doesn’t. This link should work: https://lisabongean.com/2019/05/17/covered-zipper-pillow-tutorial/ If not, please let us know! Thanks again. ~Lisa

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