Recipe for a Quilt

By Frances Oliver

Sometimes, when not working, I’ll sit and watch TV to relax. Then I get bored with just sitting and pull out my quilting which helps me relax even more.

Quilting initially takes a lot of planning. Here’s what you need to think about: What pattern do I want to use? What colour scheme would look the best? What shapes do I need? How many pieces do I cut of each shape and of which colours? Many different places give ideas: friends, internet sights, quilting magazines, or books.


Once all the above questions are answered, try different colour choices, either what you have at hand or what you buy. Luckily, those patterns from books, magazines or internet will tell you how much material you will need and how to cut out your pieces. If you design your own, you will have to figure out the amount of materials and pattern by yourself. Don’t forget batting and backing. If making a T-shirt quilt, you will need the T-shirts, thin iron-on interfacing, and black material if you want to outline each T-shirt. Wash all material before cutting so that the quilt won’t shrink when washed after it is sewn together.


  • scissors or rotary cutter and pad
  • thread the color of your main material
  • sewing machine
  • needle for hand sewing


1 . You have two choices for piecing a quilt. Choice one is to piece your quilt together by hand and the other is to use your sewing machine. I made one totally by hand, Delectable Mountains (king sized), but it took me 19 years because I’d work on it when I could and when I felt like it. Others, I’ve done by machine and finished in one-two days working almost all day. So make a choice, fast or take your time. If making the T-shirt quilt, decide on a size for each “T-shirt square”. Cut it out, and iron on the interfacing on the back so the T-shirt won’t stretch when sewing. Cut black strips with 2, 2 1/2, or 3 inch strips and fit them horizontally onto the sides of the T-shirt squares.


After you have the rows done, join them with a strip of black between each row.

You can also do this without the sashing (black strips) as long as all of the T-shirts are the same size.

2. Your backing should go with your top in one way or another. If queen/king sized quilt is what you make, piece it together because the width of the fabric is less than the width of the quilt. You need to take that into account when purchasing your fabric and planning your quilt. If the backing is dark, think about your batting thickness. If you can see the darkness through your batting, it is too thin.

3. Now to put the three layers together. Find a large area and put your backing down wrong side up, then the batting, and last the top. Let the batting and backing spill over your top to allow for quilting. Put them together with pins or safety pins. Now baste together with large running stitches so it looks like a grid.


4. Time for quilting. You can use a long arm machine for quilting by renting time on one, or you can pay someone to quilt it for you on a longarm.* You can also use your sewing machine with a quilting foot or you can quilt by hand. I’ve done each one. The one I sent to be quilted made me feel as if it wasn’t mine. The one I quilted on the machine was really good especially for baby quilts since they get a lot of wear and tear with use and washing. I’ve also done many by hand. With small stitching, I’ve had no complaints about them falling apart. Quilt your T-shirt quilt by machine. Its thickness and use will have it washed more often. Quilt in the ditch (close to the sewing lines) so it won’t take away from the T-shirts that you treasure.

5. Don’t forget to bind your quilt. First you need to trim all three layers to be the same making sure they are straight and corners are right angles. You can buy binding at a local sewing shop or make your own. Sew it to the edge of the top of your quilt and then fold it to the back hiding the rough edge. You can hand whip stitch it or use a sewing machine to stitch the back to the front. Make sure you hide where you stitched it to the front.

6. Sign and date the quilt. If giving it to someone else, include their name, your name, and the date of completion. You can print it with a permanent sharpie, or print out a label from your computer onto material. You can buy special material in packages that you can print on, and iron to keep the image, then sew onto the quilt.

So relax, quilt, and make a memory for someone special!