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Thread: T Shirt Stabilizer??

  1. #1
    Super Member mpeters1200's Avatar
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    I need to make some T shirt quilts. I volunteered to make a memory quilt for my uncle's family when he suddenly passed away a week and a half ago or so. I came home with a whole garbage bag full of tshirts. I know they need stabilizer and I'll be doing a little research here before I jump in.

    What kind of stabilizers do you all use? Iron on? Sew On? Do you keep the stabilizer on until the top is pieced and then take it off? Do you keep it on the whole time?

    I was also thinking about putting simple coping strips of plain fabrics around the tshirts to add some color to it. Maybe some masculine decorator fabric I have around that to add some sashing. All the t-shirts are very plain. Mostly gray with yellow logo from his job...but they are all very old and faded. I want to kick them up a notch. But, before I jump in, I want to know about all things stabilizers. I know nothing about them.

    I take that back, I know different types exist for embroidery....that's the extent of my knowledge.

    HELP!!!

  2. #2
    Super Member maryb119's Avatar
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    I use a fusable stabilizer, usually a soft Pelon that I purchase from my LQS. It is a little more expensive than Walmart but it is softer and does a great job of stabilizing the fabric and washes great, too.

  3. #3
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    We just had a class at our daytime guilt last month. Our presenter Lynne recommends Pelon fusible 911 interfacing. Cut the t-shirt apart, separating the portion you want with about a 2" margin if possible. Fuse the t-shirt to the fusible interfacing following manufacturers directions, be sure to use a teflon pressing sheet or parchment paper so the t-shirt image is not damaged. Trim to the desired square or rectangular shape. Lynne then works on a design wall (or floor) placing prepared t-shirt blocks in vertical rows. Use 100% fabric of your choice to add sashings/coping strips, unifying your vertical row widths.

  4. #4
    Moderator littlehud's Avatar
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    Make sure it is light weight. I used medium on my DDs quilt and it weighs a ton.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Shelley's Avatar
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    This is what I was told when I got my longarm and was considering adding that service to my business. The person who told me had done a PILE of T-Shirt quits, and this was her advice:

    Get the cheapest fusable interfacing you can find. You don't need/want anything stiff.

  6. #6
    Super Member dakotamaid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lbosma
    We just had a class at our daytime guilt last month. Our presenter Lynne recommends Pelon fusible 911 interfacing. Cut the t-shirt apart, separating the portion you want with about a 2" margin if possible. Fuse the t-shirt to the fusible interfacing following manufacturers directions, be sure to use a teflon pressing sheet or parchment paper so the t-shirt image is not damaged. Trim to the desired square or rectangular shape. Lynne then works on a design wall (or floor) placing prepared t-shirt blocks in vertical rows. Use 100% fabric of your choice to add sashings/coping strips, unifying your vertical row widths.


    ditto, with just a quick addition. I use fusible tricot. It is extremely lightweight add fuses well to t shirt fabric. HOWEVER, make sure that the stretch of the tricot is going in the opposite direction of the stretch on the t shirt. This makes for a really nice soft t shirt quilt.

  7. #7
    Super Member ConnieF's Avatar
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    fusible tricot is what I use... it is soft but hold shape for easy piecing and is soft ad flowie and did not add a lot of weight... it irons on. How about doing some appliques of things he liked to do on some of the plain blks. Relax and have a good time doing it.

  8. #8
    Super Member ConnieF's Avatar
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    oh I forgot to add I buy it when it is 50% off at JoAnns

  9. #9
    Super Member maryb119's Avatar
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    With using the tricot, placeing the "grain lines" of the tricot is important. The tee shirt "grain line" will run up and down. Place the tricot crossways. It reduces the stretch and hold the tee shirt fabric more securely. My mom is a long arm quilter. She tells me that tee shirts that stretch are harder to quilt.

  10. #10
    Super Member mpspeedy's Avatar
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    I agree about the fusables already mentioned. I just spent the morning cutting apart a large tub full of tee shirts to make a quilt. The person they belong to got a full scholarship to Harvard for wrestling. He was also a classmate of my daughter's. Some of the shirts are in such bad shape that I think I will photo transfer them instead of using the actual shirt. Others are so fadded that I think I will use my fabric pens to touch up the colors. The hardest part will be deciding on the size of the basic block based on the largest motif and then combining the smaller motifs to make blocks the same size. I will use sashing it also helps stabilize. Several of the shirts are sweat shirts. I think I may try shaving some of the fleece off of the backs so they are not so bulky. They even included a couple pair of his wrestiling shorts that are made out of that very flimsy "nylon"? fabric that has holes all over it for ventilation. I have no idea how I am going to include that.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Bluphrog's Avatar
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    I use a Pellon fusible which I believe is #950. It is called ShirTailor, and was designed for collars and cuffs when making men's tailored shirts. The manager at my JoAnn's told me she's made several T-shirt quilts and that's what she uses. I'm on my second one now. Just off the bolt, it feels a little stiff, but it has a nice feel once it's fused to the fabric. I think it's regularly $5.99 a yard, and I also wait until I have a 40% or 50% coupon and buy a whole bolt.

  12. #12
    Super Member mpeters1200's Avatar
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    Several questions.

    Fusible huh....so I'm ironing or pressing on. That I can do. I don't mind applique, so at least I know how to press stuff together.

    The tricot? sounds a bit complicated with "grains". Whoever made the first long, detailed post (I can't see who in this screen), thank you for the details. I am cutting my "squares" of tshirts a few inches bigger than I need and press the stabilizer to that. That I can do. So, then, after it's pressed I cut them down to what I need. I then sew them together, with the stabilizer on still right? Is there a time in which I would take it off or is it forever in the life of the quilt? I probably won't quilt them, unless it's a stitch in the ditch kind of thing. They will probably be tie tacked.

    All of these tshirts almost look more like polos. They have cuffs on the sleeves and 2 or 3 buttons by the collar. Some have pockets on the chest, others don't. All of them were his work shirts so they are extremely muted and faded earth tones with "LAYS" written above the pocket, if there is one. He didn't own any other shirts. They were all his work shirts. I was thinking about using a strip from the shirt approx. the size and shape of a piece of paper with the logo on it, then using coping strips of plain cotton around it. Then I have this decorator fabric. I was thinking about adding blues and stuff and giving it color that way. Applique isn't a horrible idea....but he didn't have a lot of hobbies. He was a good man and a hard worker.

    I'm assuming if I go into JoAnn's I'll be able to ask about this tricot stuff. I'm assuming I can get a bolt of other non-tricot stabilizers too. I'm hoping I can catch the people at JoAnn's at the right time. Some of their associates don't do anything but cut stuff off a bolt all day and have no opinion on what is actually helpful. I almost always check here first. But I like you all so much better! ;-)

  13. #13
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Yes, you iron the fusible on to the wrong side of the t-shirt fabric. You are describing the correct procedure; cut the t-shirt fabric as large as possible, fuse to the wrong side, then cut the fused t-shirt piece down to the correct size.

    It's a good idea to experiment on some scrap pieces to be sure you know how hot your iron needs to be and how long to keep it in place. Many fusibles come with this information, but fusible tricot in bulk may not.

    T-shirt quilts are usually tied or machine-quilted around the blocks only; you would never want to try to hand quilt through a fusible. Warm 'n' Natural is probably a good batting choice for a t-shirt quilt because it does not require close quilting.

    Last time I checked, JoAnn's carried fusible tricot only in small, relatively expensive packages (pre-packaged yardage). It is a lot cheaper to buy it in bulk from a drapery shop. This is where I purchased mine:
    http://www.bblackandsons.com/tricot-...-60-p-302.html


    If you don't use fusible tricot, be sure to experiment to make sure the fusible you choose is sufficiently light in weight and doesn't make the fabric too stiff. I think you would want to look at only non-woven fusibles for this project.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Shelley's Avatar
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    Also know that if there is a funky smell on the t-shirts, there will be a funky smell in the quilt.....

  15. #15
    Super Member mpeters1200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shelley
    Also know that if there is a funky smell on the t-shirts, there will be a funky smell in the quilt.....
    That is an incredibly good point. Obvious, but I'm glad you pointed that out because now I have to go sniff a couple big bags of shirts. :thumbup:

  16. #16
    Super Member mpeters1200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prism99
    It's a good idea to experiment on some scrap pieces to be sure you know how hot your iron needs to be and how long to keep it in place. Many fusibles come with this information, but fusible tricot in bulk may not.

    Last time I checked, JoAnn's carried fusible tricot only in small, relatively expensive packages (pre-packaged yardage). It is a lot cheaper to buy it in bulk from a drapery shop. This is where I purchased mine:
    http://www.bblackandsons.com/tricot-...-60-p-302.html


    If you don't use fusible tricot, be sure to experiment to make sure the fusible you choose is sufficiently light in weight and doesn't make the fabric too stiff. I think you would want to look at only non-woven fusibles for this project.

    Will definitely look at the lighterweight fusibles. non-woven, wrote that part down. Will also look at your link.

    Thank you girls!

  17. #17
    Christine Ryan's Avatar
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    I use Pellon 906F, it is a nice light weight and works great.

    Also, purchase a 15" plexiglass template, it helps when doing the final cut to trim perfectly. Templates come in various sizes but the 15" seems to cover most all graphics on a shirt, even the XL sizes.

    good luck!

  18. #18
    Junior Member Phoppe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mpeters1200 View Post
    Do you keep the stabilizer on until the top is pieced and then take it off? Do you keep it on the whole time?
    I didn't see anyone answer this part of the question. I'm curious as well as to whether you peel off the stabilizer or if it just stays on the quilt forever.
    Skeeter-Bug

  19. #19
    Super Member blahel's Avatar
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    I used iron on cheapest I could find to stabilise my tshirts and i left mine on. The advice i was given was to pull the shirts to see which way they stretch then do the same with the fusible then iron it on so the stretch is in opposite directions as it will help your tshirts stay in shape and not stretch when sewing. Hope this helps as I am not good at explaining especially when I am in a hurry to go to work! Good luck!
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  20. #20
    Super Member GailG's Avatar
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    I use Pellon lightweight or featherweight. Also have used Heat and Bond lightweight. Both are good. It's the stabilizer with the tiny glue dots on the fusible side.

    The fusible remains attached.
    One step at a time, always forward.

  21. #21
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    I use non-woven fusible interfacing......

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by mpspeedy View Post
    I agree about the fusables already mentioned. I just spent the morning cutting apart a large tub full of tee shirts to make a quilt. The person they belong to got a full scholarship to Harvard for wrestling. He was also a classmate of my daughter's. Some of the shirts are in such bad shape that I think I will photo transfer them instead of using the actual shirt. Others are so fadded that I think I will use my fabric pens to touch up the colors. The hardest part will be deciding on the size of the basic block based on the largest motif and then combining the smaller motifs to make blocks the same size. I will use sashing it also helps stabilize. Several of the shirts are sweat shirts. I think I may try shaving some of the fleece off of the backs so they are not so bulky. They even included a couple pair of his wrestiling shorts that are made out of that very flimsy "nylon"? fabric that has holes all over it for ventilation. I have no idea how I am going to include that.
    You could back the "holey" fabric to a nude shade of fabric. I'd use a glue that washes away to attach the shorts to the backing fabric and satin stitch or zigzag around the holes to hold them in place and that should secure the shorts to the backing permanently.
    Penny

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