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Thread: t-shirt quilts without the stabilizer... can it be done?

  1. #1
    Super Member wildyard's Avatar
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    I have just been asked by a local radio "personality" who has had the same show for 38 years to make a quilt for him from his collection of themed t-shirts. This is a great honor to me as I am a great fan of all he has done and represents.
    Here is my problem and question:
    Every t-shirt quilt I have ever felt, has not been soft and cuddley because of the feel of the iron on stabilizer. I, and he, really want this quilt to be very soft. I will use flannel or fleece for the backing. If I use fleece, then I will use a layer of sheet between since the fleece and knit are both so stretchy. So, here is my question:
    Any suggestions out there about how to best accomplish my goal without using the iron on stabilizer that will stiffen the t-shirt knit?
    Could I starch it enough for sewing, then wash the starch out? Could I pin it a lot and stitch each square to a backing of sheet fabric? Could I do it like a rag quilt with the t-shirt for the front and fleece for the back?
    As you see, I'm full of ideas with no idea which way to go. I will make sample squares trying all these methods if necessary, just hoping some of you can save me some steps.
    Hugs and smiles and thanks!!!

  2. #2
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    Just off the top of my head, I'd say go with the rag quilt idea.
    Another thought just surfaced, what about the puffy quilts that I've seen where the top layer puffs up from the base? Not sure exactly how those are done, but they look really soft and fluffy, and they don't seem to require the same sort of dimensional stability as a regular quilt.

  3. #3
    Super Member pab58's Avatar
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    I would think they would still stretch too much. I was thinking -- I'm sure I'll seem like a nut -- that you could use the spray basting on muslin. Of course, I know absolutely nothing about spray basting so I could be absolutely off my rocker here. :roll: I know it's used on batting, but can it also be used on fabric (i.e. muslin)? :?

  4. #4
    Super Member wanderingcreek's Avatar
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    I think that using t shirts in a puffy biscuit quilt wouldn't work because they are too stretchy and I don't think the puffs would hold their shape and would be all wonky. I have only made one of those so it only an opinion but I would think there has to be a way to keep the quilt soft but I don't know what that would be. I am sure someone here will have the answer for you.

  5. #5
    Super Member hperttula123's Avatar
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    I think you should play around a little bit with some junky shirts before you try doing the real one. Someone asked me if I could make one and tried with out stabilizer and it stretches alot so I had tucks where I sewed.

  6. #6
    Super Member charismah's Avatar
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    I'm not sure? I wonder if you could use the tear away stabilzer or wash away stabilizer (although washable would be pretty spendy for t-shirts)..then when you have the top assembled you could just ter away or wash away the stabilizer.

  7. #7
    Senior Member barking-rabbit's Avatar
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    I thought about doing shirt blocks together then stitch them together as a comforter cover.

  8. #8
    Super Member Flying_V_Goddess's Avatar
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    Starch?

    Usually a fusible interfacing is used because otherwise the shirt would stretch during the sewing and quilting. But you might be able to starch or use some sort of washable interfacing to stiffen the shirts to keep them from stretching until the quilt is done. I'd test this theory on some junk shirts first and see how that works.

  9. #9
    Member quiltingshe's Avatar
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    I have made quilts with t-shirt type knit without the stabilzer. If you use a sheet in the middle, then pin or spray baste the top to the sheet and backing you should be able to quilt it if you are careful. I think the backing fleece is more likely to stretch out of shape than the t-shirt material. I would cut the t-shirt pieces as small as I could without disturbing the design on the shirt. Try it first on similar material and size.

  10. #10
    Junior Member Feather3's Avatar
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    Floriani has a "No show nylon mesh fusible" stabilizer designs for knits. It comes in iron on & it supposed to stay soft & flexible. Info on this product:

    http://www.rnkdistributing.com/pid-6...-Fusible_.html

    I don't have a site where to buy it tho. You'll need to do a google search.

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