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Dr. Who Travels from T-shirt to Quilted Art

by Nancy Devine

Keep calm! There's a way to preserve a special T-shirt.

Keep calm! There’s a way to preserve a special T-shirt.

Every July, it’s the same thing. We start gathering up the things that we take to the cottage for vacation. These essentials of life on the lake are tucked into the closets during the long winter, emerging wrinkled and bedraggled, hopeful of a summer of fun.

But sadly, they sometimes just don’t make the cut.Such was the case for my son’s favorite Dr. Who T-shirt.

For those unfamiliar with Dr. Who, he is the title character in a long-running British show about a time-travelling good guy who takes mere mortals on fantastic adventures through time and space. His spaceship is a vintage UK police call box that has been retrofitted into the “Time And Relative Dimension in Space” device, affectionately known as the TARDIS.

Although the TARDIS is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside, the same cannot be said of the T-shirt: it has become too small. But, it’s still precious to my boy. I know, because I found it sort of folded on the chair in my studio.

He asked me to preserve it for all time in some way. I decided to make it into wall art, in the same way that more ambitious quilting mothers make T-shirt quilts for their children.

Let’s get started.

You will need:

Begin by ironing the shirt. This is necessary because this is a quilt project, and the edges need to be straight, not because I’ve taken leave of my senses. I don’t usually iron T-shirts. This task will be made much easier if you use an ironing spray like DYLON EASY IRON. It isn’t a starch, but it helps smooth out those wrinkles that have been buried in the closet since last September.

Line up the bottom edges of the shirt and give it a good shake. Smooth it out on the ironing board. Give it a light spray with DYLON EASY IRON and press. (Put a pressing cloth over the shirt if the design has been ironed-on and not silk-screened. Most T-shirts are silk-screened, so you should be okay).

When the shirt is more wrinkle-free than it has ever been before, take it to the cutting mat. Line the ruler up to the sides, within about three inches of either side of the design. Using a temporary pencil, mark these lines.

Following the marked guides, slice off the shirt’s sides and arms. Then, measure and mark about two inches from the top and bottom of the design. Cut along the marked lines to remove the neck and the bottom of the shirt. The back of the shirt will make a nice dust cloth or cleaning rag, if you like that sort of thing.

Finish the edges with a zigzag stitch on the interfaced T-shirt design, as your special shirt becomes wall art.

Finish the edges with a zigzag stitch on the interfaced T-shirt design, as your special shirt becomes wall art.

Place what’s left of the shirt onto the fusible interfacing, so that the fusible side is attached to the back side of the shirt. Take it to the ironing board and fuse the interfacing to the shirt, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure to press, not iron back and forth. You don’t want the shirt material to stretch.

Trim the interfaced design so that all the edges are straight. Use a narrow zigzag stitch on your sewing machine to finish all the edges. In the spirit of re-purposing, I tried out GUTERMANN’S rPET RECYCLED thread. It worked wonderfully well. It’s made from recycled plastic bottles, which is great, because this quilted wall art will be made from a recycled shirt and re-purposed scraps.

Come back tomorrow to see how.



Nancy R September 7, 2014 - 12:06 pm

I suggest cutting the t-shirt after your have applied the fusible interfacing (which needs to be trimmed as well, not cut at the correct size). This stabilizes the stretchy knits so you get a clean accurate cut

Nancy Devine September 7, 2014 - 7:42 pm

Thank you, Nancy. I cut the T shirt first so that I would have an idea how much area I would have, then applied the interfacing. I ended up trimming it again. Thanks for stopping by!

Karen J July 15, 2014 - 9:17 pm

There was a Doctor Who Quilt a long. The FREE patterns for around 20 Dr. Who blocks can be downloaded from here:


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