How To: T-Shirt Quilt (Fabric & Sashing)


Figuring out how much fabric to buy can be tough and take a bit of time depending on your pattern.  Do you want sashing between the t-shirts?  How wide?  That is mainly up to you and personal taste.  I decided to incorporate my alma mater colors (black and gold) into the sashing to tie all the shirts together.  Since my finished t-shirt block was 12 inches square, I decided to make my sashing a finished width of 4 x 12 inches.  So I needed vertical and horizontal 5 x 13 in sashing blocks (pictured in black) to allow for a 1/2 in seam allowance.  Where the sashing met would be 4 x 4 in finished block (pictured in gold).  These blocks would be cut 5 inches square.

How Many?

All sashing should be cut along the same grain of the fabric.  Figure out how many vertical and horizontal blocks you will need.    For my quilt, I needed 25 vertical blocks and 24 horizontal blocks.

Why does Grain of Fabric Matter?

Fabric is woven, so it will have more stretch/give one way then the other.  Also, sometimes the fabric will reflect light a different way based on the grain.  To learn more, here is a great article from

Calculating Yardage

Calculate the vertical and horizontal sashing yardage separately, then add together.  For example, the vertical blocks.  Most fabric by the yard is 45 inches wide.  Divide the total width of the fabric by the cut width (5 inches) of your sashing.  In this case it ends up being 9 blocks exactly.  If this is the case, be conservative and allow for shrinkage or miscut fabric.  So I will assume I can cut out a row of 8 blocks, so with the total number of blocks needed – 25 – I need 4 rows.  Now the length.  Take the cut length of the sashing (13 inches) and multiply by number of rows (4).  52 inches of fabric.  Wait till you calculate the horizontal amount before calculating total sashing yardage.  My horizontal blocks will need 40 inches of fabric, 92 inches of fabric equals 2.55 yards, so allow for a bit of extra…2 3/4 yards.

The square blocks will need much less fabric…30 total.  So, 8 blocks across and 4 rows.  Exact length of 20 inches, .55 yards.  So we’ll again allow for extra and get 3/4 of a yard.

Why get Extra Fabric?

As long as your math is right, you can buy exactly what you need.  However, as any crafter will tell you, mistakes do happen.  The sales person might cut the fabric unevenly, or you might cut something wrong.  There will be a bit of fabric left over, but that’s okay.  Better that then have to run to the store to buy more in the middle of a project.  It also allows to do a secondary project.  For example, I had enough sashing fabric left over to make a travel pillowcase.  Where there is a will, there is a way.

Right/Wrong Side of Fabric and Marking Fabric

There is a right and wrong side to fabric.  Most of the time the ‘right’ side of the fabric is folded to the inside when it comes off the bolt.  When in doubt, as the sales person.  With some material it is very easy to tell, such as patterned and napped (example: velvet) fabric.  With non patterned fabric it can be a bit tricky.  Once you have established the right side, mark it with a safety pin before washing.

When cutting, to minimize confusion, cut one batch of sashing blocks at a time.  For example, the vertical blocks, and then the horizontal blocks.  For each batch, mark the pieces with a chalk pencil on the WRONG side of the fabric so you match up the pieces RIGHT/RIGHT side when piecing and establish orientation in case your pieces get mixed up later.

Buying Backing

Piecing the back of your quilt can be a pain, luckily many stores have wide wide widths of fabric just for that purpose.  Call around to see what colors and widths are available, you will have better luck at quilting/specialty store if you are looking for a wider variety of colors.

Table of Contents
How To: T-shirt Quilt (Introduction)
How To: T-shirt Quilt (Tools)
How To: T-shirt Quilt (Fabric and Sashing)
How To: T-shirt Quilt (Fusing and Piecing)
How To: T-shirt Quilt (Assembly)
How To: T-shirt Quilt (Quilting)


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