T-Shirts. We all have them and we’ve probably all worn them on occasion (or daily, as I have in years past). I’ve always loved T-shirts. Through the years, different T-shirts have held different places in my heart. Some gave me a sense of belonging, like my high school marching band T-shirt; some I wore as a badge of honor, like my National Honor Society T-shirt from the 7th grade or my 11th grade All-State Chorus T-shirt. Some were linked to memorable event, like a concert or conference that I had attended. Others had a funny slogan or better yet, a witty Christian witness message (remember ‘A Breadcrumb and Fish’ anybody?). I had stacks and stacks of T-shirts that I just couldn’t bear to part with. Call it sentimental value or a tendency toward hoarding, there was no way I was going to part with those treasures. Unfortunately, I was quickly running out of drawer space and something needed to be done.
For years I had been drooling over a T-shirt quilt that my friend had received as a Christmas gift. However, I don’t sew, nor does my mother or grandmother or any other female relative or family friend (though I did try my hand at a sewn T-shirt quilt… let’s just say the results were less than desirable). I looked into hiring someone to make one of these masterpieces for me, but spending that much money on a blanket didn’t seem to me like a good way to steward my finances. But still, I knew there had to be some way to keep my T-shirts in a functional way, so I had to get creative.
Behold, the no-sew T-shirt blanket. No sewing required, only cutting and tying knots. If you have completed kindergarten, you have likely mastered the skills required for completing this project. While it is somewhat labor-intensive and time-consuming, I find the mindless, repetitive actions therapeutic.
What You Need:
- Lots of old T-shirts (approximately 30)
- Some sort square or rectangular template to trace (I used a rectangular cake pan, but a piece of cardboard would also work well)
- Material for backing (optional)
Step 1: Choose the T-shirts you want to use. I used about 30 to make my blanket. How many you use depends on A.) How many T-shirts you have or B.) How big you want your blanket to be. For example, I made a blanket for my brother who’s really tall, so I made it extra long. If you find you’re lacking a couple of shirts, ask a friend or family member if you can have one of their old ones, or take a trip to Goodwill!
Step 2: Lay your T-shirts out in the shape of a blanket so that you can get an idea of how the blanket will look. Use this time to decide if you have the right amount of shirts in the right colors for the blanket you desire. (Just a note, if the T-shirts have been sitting there for a while, you might want to wash them before you move forward with the project, just to make it a more pleasant experience for your nose :).)
Step 3: Once you’ve committed to the T-shirts you want to use, it’s time to begin cutting the fronts and/or backs of your shirts into squares or rectangles. To get the right size I traced a rectangular cake pan. You could also use a piece of cardboard as a template. Just lay the T-shirt out flat, try and get all the wrinkles out, and use a sharpie to trace your template (or cake pan). Once you’ve traced, then get out a pair of good scissors and begin cutting out your treasured squares of personal history.
Step 4: Cut the edges of your T-shirt into approximately ½ inch wide, 1 ½ inch deep fringes (like was in style in the late 80’s!). There doesn’t have to be an exact number of cuts, just try to keep them somewhat even. Do this all the way around the perimeter of each square.
Step 5: It is now time to begin tying your squares together. Pick two squares and line them up next to each other. Tie the top fringes together and the bottom fringes together using a double-knot (like the first step in tying your shoelaces, then do that again). Then work your way to the middle from each side. Try to make the fringes match up as best you can, if you see that one shirt has more than the other, just match up two fringes to one occasionally, and nobody will know the difference. Once you have tied up the whole side, it will probably seem kind of bunched together so give it a little tug to stretch it back out to more normal size.
Step 6: Repeat the last step over and over again in the pattern you decided in step 2. Just keep tying. When your fingers get tired, take a break (or invite some friends over and have a tying circle, kind of like the quilting circles of days gone by!)
Step 7: At this point, you get to decide whether you like your blanket as it is or if you want to put some sort of backing on it, like a quilt. I’ve done it both ways. If you like it as a thinner throw, just tie the edge fringes together two-by-two to finish it off. If you want it to be a bit thicker, choose some sort of fabric, either a jersey-knit sheet about the size of your blanket, or I used a cheap fleece blanket I found at Big Lots for $3.00. Cut fringes around the outer edge of the fabric the same way you did with the T-shirt squares. Lay the fabric out flat on the floor with the tied-together T-shirts on top of it and start tying again. I’d begin with the corners and then work your way around.
That’s it! No sewing required, and you can now enjoy your treasured T-shirt blanket for years to come. It’s even machine-washable! This could also be a fun project for your kids to get involved in! Yet another idea, if you have a bunch or pocket-sized logos like I did, you could tie those together into a cool little throw-pillow cover!