No-sew t-shirt blanket

blanketI hate throwing things away if they’re still got some use in them, so my project today is explaining how I upcycled a pile of my husband’s old t-shirts into a colorful no-sew quilt.

My husband is a fan of a good graphic tee, especially if it has a comic book character or symbol on it (he’s also a huge comic nerd). However, he is hard on shirts – he gets holes in them in the randomest of places, and they seem to sprout overnight. When I would make him clean out his drawers every few months, he would hand over the hole-riddled shirts, thinking I would donate them to the textile recycling here in NYC. But I hated to toss them, especially the ones with his favorite comic logos on them. So I saved them up, and over a couple of evenings this summer made them into a “quilt” (which he now loves!)

The best part? No sewing involved! Here’s how it’s done.


  • 10 L or XL old t-shirts for a 50″ X60″ blanket
  • Sharp scissors
  • Quilt batting (I ordered this online for $13 and only used half)
  • An old flannel sheet or other material for backing (fleece, more t-shirts, etc.)


Cut squares from the front and back of the t-shirts – 2 squares per shirt. My squares measured 16X16 (I also used a cardboard square [cut out from an old pizza box] to help me keep the squares uniformly sized.)

Cut 2 inch strips around the periphery of each square, 1-1.5 inches wide, like in photo 1.

Lay out all your squares on the table or floor to figure out how you want them to be arranged (photo 2)

cutting IMG_1061
photo 1 (diagram of a t-shirt square)                         photo 2 (lay out your t-shirt squares)

Take a photo so you know how you want them to go together.

Now sit down, watch a movie, and tie all your squares together. At the corners, criss-cross like in photos 3 and 4.

 corner tying corner close up
photo 3   (how to tie corners)                                 photo 4 (tied corners)

Remember, the periphery of the blanket remains untied – you will tie these to the backing later.

Now comes the hardest part – lining up and trimming your quilt batting and whatever backing you are using (you could use more t-shirts; I used an old stretched out jersey sheet). To keep everything in place, I put straight pins all around the periphery, then trimmed the batting and sheet to size. The sheet should be the same size as the tee-shirt front; the batting should be smaller, fitting inside the soon-to-be-tied-together sheet and tee-shirt front.

Now, cut 2 inch strips around the periphery of the backing sheet, 1-1.5 inches wide.

Tie up all the strips around the edge of the blanket.

Remove all the pins from around the edges (I might have missed one… or a few… which my husband discovered the hard way.)

Now, you can stop here, but the quilt batting might not stay in place inside the t-shirt layer and backing (much like a duvet inside a duvet cover). To avoid this inevitable bunching and slouching, I untied 1 or 2 pair(s) of strips in the middle of each square, as in photo 5.

Then I cut little slits in the backing and batting, shoved the un-tied strips through, and re-tied on the back of the blanket, holding the batting in place. The back of the blanket now looks like photo 6.

 blanket back ollie blanket
photo 5   (how to anchor front to back)     photo 6 (back of blanket after anchoring)

Now the blanket is done, and both hubby and cats are very pleased with the end result!


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