Repurposing men’s shirt fabrics | Wonky quilt block placemat

Yesterday, I gave you a list of supplies for making some unique placemats from old shirts. A few years ago, on QUILTsocial, I showed you how to transform a shirt sleeve into a gift bag as a great way to upcycle using shirt cuffs and sleeves to make gift card holders and gift bags. I still had the rest of the shirt fabric, so I used it to make some placemats for today’s project. I even used one of the original pockets on the shirt for a napkin and cutlery. The shirts were found at a local thrift shop, so this is repurposing at its best!

Gift bags made from shirt sleeves and gift card holder made from a shirt cuff



  • 2 contrasting shirt fabrics, one piece with an original pocket intact
  • 12″ x 18″ lightweight batting


Note: The fabric in repurposed shirts is not always the 100% cotton that we usually work with. Best Press in the Spray and Misting Bottle will give the fabric some extra body and smooth any wrinkles when pressed.

Let’s get started!

Placemat 1

The finished placemat is 11″ x 17″, but you can easily change the finished size to meet your needs. Spray the shirt fabrics with Mary Ellen’s Best Press in the Spray and Misting Bottle, and press them with the OLISO PRO  TG1600 Pro Plus Smart Iron.

To make the pieced block, cut 1 – 6″ square from one fabric and 4 – 3″ x 8½” strips from the contrasting fabric.

Sew a 3″ strip to the 6″ square on an angle leaving the first 3” open to create a partial seam. Press the seam towards the strip.

A 3″ strip partial seam sewn on an angle.

Turn the square to the left and sew another 3″ strip to the next side of the square on an angle. Press the seam towards the strip.

The next 3” strip sewn on an angle.

Continue sewing 3” strips around the square and then finish sewing the partial seam.

Sewn strips all around the square

Place the 8½” x 8½” OMNIGRIP Ruler on the pieced square, also on an angle, and using the OLFA 45 mm Ergonomic Rotary Cutter, trim to 8½” x 8½”.

Trim pieced square to 8½” x 8½”

From the shirt fabric, cut 1 strip containing a pocket approximately 7″ x 12½” (width can be adjusted to accommodate the pocket size of the shirt you are using), 1 strip 4½” x 12″ and 2 strips 2½” x 8½”.

Place a piece of Sulky Tear-Easy stabilizer under the pocket section. A little spritz of 505 Fabric Adhesive will help hold it in place.

Sulky Tear–Easy stabilizer

Use a straight or decorative stitch, and sew around the pocket section with a contrasting thread.

Machine stitching around the pocket

When you’ve finished stitching, tear away the excess stabilizer. You᾽ll find that the Sulky Tear-Easy stabilizer is very easy to remove.

Tear away excess stabilizer.

Sew a 2½” x 8½” strip to the top and bottom of the pieced square.

Sew the pocket section to the right-hand side of the pieced block and the 4½” strip to the left-hand side.

Sew strips to the center square.

Finishing the placemat

Use an 11″ x 17″ plastic template as a guide for the size of your placemat. Trace around the plastic with a Clover Chaco liner chalk marker. This will be your cutting line for later.

From the remaining shirt fabric, cut 1 piece 12″ x 18″ for the backing.

Cut 1 piece of batting 12″ x 18″.

Layer placemat top, lightweight batting and backing with right sides out.

Use ODIF 505 spray adhesive to hold the 3 layers together.

Layer backing, batting and placemat top.

Using the chalk lines as guides, trim the placemat so it measures 11″ x 17″.

For the binding, cut 3″ strips from leftover shirt fabric and piece them together to make a strip long enough to go all around the placemat. Press the seams open and fold the strip in half lengthwise with wrong sides together. Press.

Sew on the binding using a scant ½” seam. Fold the binding to the back and hand-stitch in place. This will give you a ½” finished size binding. Check out my detailed guide on changing the way you make quilt binding, in one of my earlier posts on QUILTsocial.

And there you have it – your first repurposed shirt fabric placemat with a pocket for holding a napkin and cutlery!

Finished placemat with a shirt pocket

Please join me again tomorrow when I make a second placemat using an 11″ x 17″ plastic template and Clover Chaco liner chalk marker and well, more shirts.

This is part 2 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 1: Sustainable style: repurpose men’s shirts into quilted placemats

Go to part 3: Repurposing men’s shirt fabrics | Adding a hand-stitched shirt pocket

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