I’m Dreaming of a Beach Quilt

June 23, 2009 § 25 Comments


Thrifted Shirts

A long while ago, I washed one of my husband’s shirts with something that bled pink all over it.   It’s been hanging on the door of my sewing room for some time now.  Even after several washings, there are still faint tell-tale signs of pink. I finally decided that the only way to redeem myself was to make it into a quilt.


How many do you think I'll need?

A beach or picnic quilt to be exact. A quilt that we can throw in the car and not care about what happens to it. I picked up a few more shirts at the Goodwill while we have been out of town the last couple of weekends. Believe me, thrifted clothing in this area is not exactly cheap.  Cheaper than new, yes.  But not “cheap”.

My husband’s niece asked me what I was going to do with the shirts and was aghast that I am planning on cutting them up and sewing them into a quilt!

The one I ruined

The one I ruined

So… I wonder how many shirts I might need? Is it worth it to unpick the seams, or just cut the shirts apart?  I haven’t decided if I want to make striped boxes, or handkerchief corners, or what.  Kaffe Fassett has a shirting stripe quilt in his book Passionate Patchwork.  Ann of Mason Dixon Knitting talked about this a few years ago.  And… here are a few inspirations from Flickr.  As always, click on the image to go to the Flickr sources.

Flickr Inspiration

Inspiration from Flickr

§ 25 Responses to I’m Dreaming of a Beach Quilt

  • MichelleB says:

    I think unpicking would very tedious. But I guess it depends on how much the shirts cost, and how much fabric you would gain by unpicking.

    • Zarina says:

      But if you feel that you cannot let go of the shirts for sentimental reasons or others, I would not mind cutting up the shirts. But yes, unpicking will be at the end of the list and provided I need all the fabric that I can get from the shirt, esp the sleeves.

  • Zarina says:

    That’s actually a grand idea even though someone did mention using shirts for something else. dad has quite a lot which he no longer wants to wear just because and mum wants that extra wardrobe spaces. maybe i should check it out – maybe spread my wings to my brothers who is not trimming down to wear all those shirts. what a grand idea. tell me what you plan to do and maybe we shall do it together (err, maybe in another time zone when I actually do something that I have talked about wanting to do).

  • britt says:

    I personally would not unpick, but if you think it will give you enough more material for it to be worth it.
    Back home there was a thrift store that did “dollar days” and anything a certain tag color was a dollar. That is a good way to stock up for stuff like this.
    At the american textile museum I saw a huge men’s shirt made of a bunch of men’s shirts. I will try and post the pic. It was hilarious and these would have fit right in

  • Melody says:

    Quilting w/ thrifted shirts, what a great idea! I love the quilt with the handkerchief corners!

  • Candace says:

    Great idea, Anita! I can use my husbands shirts after he retires for something like this! Personally I would just cut away – picking out all those flat felled seams would be a lot of work!

  • Katy says:

    cut ’em – the seams will be overlocked probably, so you might find you end up losing that part anyway and imagine how pi££ed you’d be if you had spent 3 billion hours unpicking the blighters only to cut that bit off and binning it.

    Thrift shopping here isn’t exactly thrifty either. I found a jumper that was a wool mix for almost the same price as a new one, and no nicer. I blame ebay! There’s not so much stuff going to the goodwill as in the olden days!
    The shirt quilt sounds wonderful – I also love the handkerchief corners…but then again I think I love all the examples!

  • Sharon says:

    What a great idea! Forget taking apart those seams–too time consuming. I just got back from the thrift shop. I bought a pair of madras shorts to cut up and make “something!”

  • Jenna Z says:

    My vote is for cutting, not picking seams. Boy, that would get old after a couple of shirts and then your quilt might never get done!

  • Heather says:

    I too would not take apart the seams, just go at it and start cutting. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!!!

  • Tami says:

    Killer idea! I have a small collection of pit stained dress shirts curtosy of Jeff.

  • hedwig bonnez says:

    Marvelous !
    There is a book by bonnie hunter : scraps and shirttails where she uses old shirts to make quilts from…
    But Anita if you go to all the troubles of cutting up, matching coulours of the shirts, sewing and so on, will you find the courage to just stow your picnicquilt in the boot of the car ?
    Please let us know how you are proceeding…

  • Liz says:

    I agree with everyone – just cut the shirts for the material. The patches with pockets could be placed to give you a spot to stash things.

    At a quilt show last week, I saw a quilt honoring a man’s retirement from the Air Force. The quilter used one of her husband’s shirts on the front of the quilt. The shirt was at the top of the quilt, with arms outstretched – it was also the quilt sleeve.

  • Emily says:

    What a great idea! I wouldn’t bother unpicking the seams, you probably won’t be able to get the tiny holes to come all the way out anyway.

  • amy says:

    What a wonderful quilt these shirts will make, Anita! I’m completely excited for you! So summer-y.

  • jen says:

    I would just cut the shirts. You won’t be wasting that much fabric at all and you would save so much time.

    I have been wanting to do a quilt with stripes and half square triangles for a while…where the stripes meet and make a 90 degree angle? Just an idea.

  • I have that Kaffe book to and loooove the shirting quilt. BUT, take a look at this one, too . . .


    Her blog is lovely and she just recently put up a PDF download pattern for a quilt made of button down shirts!

  • Randi says:

    Just cut ’em up!

    I am sure the finished quilt will be wonderful!

  • Jane Weston says:

    Randi took the words out of my mouth :o) Just get them cut up…you won’t gain anything from unpicking them. Look forward to seeing what you create. I’ve been buying lots of shirts myself and just love using them…recycling at it’s best.

  • amandajean says:

    you have a selection of shirts for this.

  • Vicki says:

    Here is a link to a quilt from shirts:

    I have been gathering shirts and am looking forward to making this one. Would love to join your shirt quilt along too. How many shirts needed?
    Definitely NOT worth picking the seams, it takes long enough to cut all the seams off.

  • Sheila says:

    (i hope this isn’t a duplicate from me!) Vicki beat me to posting Nancy-Rose’s blog with the tutorial for cutting up shirts. (http://tinyurl.com/m5bc2q). I’d love to play along!

  • Gayle says:

    I’m a rug hooker who always uses thrift store wool clothing to make my rugs out of, take my advice and don’t unpick the seams of your shirts – just cut the seams off – it’s much faster and you really won’t be wasting that much fabric.

  • Dear Anita,
    Is it possible for me to buy a beachquilt from you. I love the colours of light blue and white from the clothing you have choosen.

    Love Jeannette Mariae

  • Nancy-Rose says:

    You are NOT going to believe this – – but I FINALLY finished my Shirt Stripe Boxes quilt this past week. Photos are posted on my blog. Take a look!

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