Knock on Wood Blog Tour / T-shirt Quilt Tutorial

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for joining my Knock On Wood Blog Tour! Over the next few days I will be showing you some fun, inspiring projects made by talented sewists with my new fabric line for Riley Blake, Knock On Wood. My inspiration for this line came from my teenage boys. I wanted to make something that they would like for bedspreads, quilts, and pillows. I also wanted it to be versatile enough that it had a sweet modern side, like this dress and quilt. The wood grains, tone-on-tone patterns in this collection can be either masculine or feminine. It just depends on what you want to make!

The quilt in the picture is my newest pattern, Reclaimed.  It was inspired by the current trend of using reclaimed wood in furniture, decor…..almost anything!  To celebrate the release of Knock on Wood, everything is 15% off in my Etsy shop this week!  Just use the coupon code KNOCK15 at checkout.  Here is the schedule for the week, please stop back here on Saturday for a wrap up and a few more ideas from me!

Tuesday, 9/13     Amy Smart, Diary of a Quilter

Wednesday, 9/14     Dara Tomasson, Stitched Quilting Co.

Thursday, 9/15     Jina Barney, Jina Barney Designz

Friday, 9/16     Amanda Niederhauser, Jedi Craft Girl

Saturday, 9/17     Deena Rutter

If you want to follow along via instagram, follow me @deenarutter for look at what everyone is up to.   Jennifer is my right hand, and  the “brings ideas to life” gal.  She shows us how she made a teen boy twist with this T-shirt quilt.  Take it away, Jennifer!

-Deena Rutter

I knew as soon as I heard that Knock on Wood was going to print that I wanted to make a t-shirt quilt with it.  I spent far too long looking at Pinterest, and read a lot of tutorials.  Some t-shirt quilts used a uniform and very straight forward layout, with each block the same size.  I tend to lean to a modern aesthetic, and liked the quilts that had a more random, improv look to their layout.  Plus, my selection of shirts were not uniform in size, so that also influenced my design decisions.  Funny thing about the t-shirts used in this quilt – we knew that this quilt would be more for display, so Deena didn’t want to use her boys actual shirts and jerseys in case something happened to the quilt.  So I “curated” the shirts from local thrift shops, and I channeled all 3 of her boys…they play hockey, lacrosse, and love to ski, they love to travel as a family and have amazing musical talents….I got pretty lucky!  This was so fun to make, I hope this and the other projects this week inspire you to create something with Deena’s Knock on Wood!

Please read entire post before purchasing supplies

Approx. Finished Size : 62 x 71

KOW = Knock on Wood      WOF = Width of Fabric


15 – 25 t-shirts

3 yds. Pellon EK 130 Easy Knit FUSIBLE interfacing

SASHING – 1 Rolie Polie of Knock on Wood or 1/4 yd. EACH of at least 6 KOW coordinating prints

BACKGROUND/FILLER – 1/2 yd. Knock on Wood Woodgrain in Dark Gray

BORDER – 5/8 yd. Knock on Wood Main in Dark Gray

BINDING – 2/3 yd RBD Confetti Cotton in Brownie

BACKING – 4 yds RBD Dreamy or other Minky type fabric

Coordinating solids – 1/8 yd each or scraps of RBD Confetti Cottons in Licorice, Brownie, Seaglass, and Autumn

Your quilt may be larger or smaller than mine based on the number and size of t-shirts you have to work with, please adjust yardage accordingly.

Step 1 – Prepare Your T-Shirts

Start with clean shirts – I like to give them a wash with vinegar to remove any soap or fabric softener residue.  Cut out the portion of the t-shirt that you will be using – be sure to cut out as large as possible, but also keeping it in a rectangular or square shape.  This was a 2 step process for me.  I first cut out the front/back/sleeve with my shears, cutting around all seams, necklines, and hems.  Then when I had a single layer of shirt, I used my rotary cutter and ruler to cut the largest rectangle or square from the t-shirt.  Repeat with all t-shirts.

Step 2 – Stabilizing T-Shirts

It is important to stabilize the stretch in the t-shirt.  I used the Pellon knit fusible interfacing and really liked the results – it firmed up the t-shirt but kept a really soft drape, and was great to sew with.  Follow the manufacturers instructions and fuse all t-shirt blocks fully with interfacing (be sure to fuse the interfacing stretch in the opposite direction of the t-shirt stretch).  I found this quick video from Baby Lock that explains this process perfectly.

Step 3 – T-Shirt Placement in Quilt Top

Arrange t-shirts in a pleasing layout, this was the hardest part!  I found anchoring the corners with larger blocks was a good place to start.  Taking pictures of my layout was also helpful to make sure I had a good balance of color placement.  I also found that some shirts did not play well with the mix, so it’s good to have a few extra shirts just in case.  I ended up switching out the center Yosemite block for a brighter blue block.

NOTE: I chose to construct my quilt top in columns instead of rows, you can see 3 “loose” columns in my layout.  If it works better for you to construct in rows, feel free to adjust as necessary.

Trim all blocks to their final size, making sure they are all squared up.  I trimmed many of mine down slightly, especially to center the image in the block.  If using yardage, cut 2.5″ WOF strips from your desired prints.  Placement of the sashing prints was just as subjective as the t-shirt placement, so here are a few pointers:

  • Never let the same print touch on adjacent blocks.  I found using a diagonal approach was pleasing and easy – for instance the shamrock and hamburger both have the KOW blue sketch print.
  • Alternate light and dark in two ways – make sure the print you choose for sashing is a good contrast to the t-shirt, and be sure there is good contrast from sashing to sashing on adjacent blocks. Don’t let this stress you out too much…in the picture below the guitar block and “you should practice” block look very similar, but once I added in the filler, that disappeared.
  • Adding some solid sashing helped to make the top less “busy”.  You can see that I inserted some solid brown and black sashing to 4 of the blocks.

Sew sashing to all blocks using a 1/4 inch seam, a walking foot is very helpful but not necessary.  Press all seams as desired. Square up each block as needed.

Step 5 – Constructing Columns and Adding Filler

I used the KOW woodgrain print for the majority of the filler, but I also added some of the KOW main print with a tiny bit of orange and green solids. I constructed the top in 3 columns.  To determine the filler, I measured the largest block in the column and then added the extra width of filler needed for each of the remaining blocks in the column. Don’t forget to add seam allowances, and cut the filler a little larger than the exact measurement….you can always trim off, but it’s a pain if it is even a 1/4″ too small.  I added the filler to the inside of the blocks – keeping the outside blocks aligned, somehow that looked more pleasing to me.

You will also need some filler between some of the blocks to make each column the same height.  Column #3 was the tallest/longest, so I needed to add some filler to both column #1 and #2.

Now you are ready to sew each individual block into columns using a 1/4 inch seam. Press as desired.

See those two big empty holes in the quilt?  I thought it might look cool to have the large blocks of woodgrain, but once it was all constructed, I realized that it looked empty in those spots.  So out came the seam ripper, and I added a small block to the upper square, and an applique to the lower square….much better!

Step  6 – Sewing Quilt Top and Quilt Back

Sew your columns together with a 1/4 inch seam, being sure to match up seam intersections if necessary (this was not necessary for my layout).  Press as desired.  Cut border print into 2.5″ WOF strips. Seam strips together to form (4) border strips that correspond with your quilt top measurements. Sew borders to quilt top and press all seams.

Prepare backing.  I used a solid gray minky for this backing…..I wish you could feel it, it is SO soft and scrumptious!!  The drape on this quilt is amazing – not stiff at all.  Minky is wider, but I still needed to piece the backing.  Minky can be tricky if you are planning on quilting on your home machine, I had it quilted by the talented Melissa of Sew Shabby Quilting, she did an amazing wood grain pattern (of course!).  If you choose to have it quilted by a long arm professional, be sure to get their requirements for backing (usually 4″ larger on all sides).

And finally, square up quilt top, prepare binding, and quilt and bind as desired.

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