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Nov 2, 2023

Piles Of Shirts – Turn Your Race Shirts Into A Quilt!

Do you have too many shirts you can’t stand to part with?  Are the shirts so meaningful that you just can’t bear the thought of dropping them off at Goodwill or donating them to some charity?  Looking at your piles of shirts may appear overwhelming, but there is a creative way to preserve them and keep your memories!

Your race t-shirts are very important and if you have been thinking about how to showcase your accomplishments, having a quilt created from your race t-shirts, may just be the option for you!

Your first step in creating your quilt is to get a clear understanding of the different types of quilts that can be created.  There are different styles such as puzzle style, stained-glass style, traditional style, traditional with sashing, crazy quilt style, and more.  You should have an idea of how you want your quilt to look, and explain that to your quilter.

I had my quilter add a sleeve at the top of my quilt which allows me the option to have the quilt serve as a wall hanging.  The sleeve is easily hung on a curtain rod.  A wall-hanging option allows you to display the quilt as a work of art rather than having the quilt stored away.

There is a clear difference between a quilt and a blanket.  A blanket has only two layers that are not held together with anything.  When researching t-shirt quilt makers, be sure to ask your quilter if they make quilts or blankets.  You should know the difference before making a decision about the quilter you would like to use, so you will know if you will receive a quilt or blanket!  One qualifying question you can ask an official quilter, is “What type of batting do you use?”  If they respond and say they aren’t using batting, then they are not making an official quilt, they are making a blanket.

Now it is time to:

  1. Choose your quilt style.
  2. Select your quilt maker.
  3. Choose your t-shirts.

There are certain t-shirts that you cherish more than others.  When you meet with your quilter, you should be given the opportunity to discuss which shirts mean the most to you and why.  Your quilter may ask you what your favorite colors are.  These facts can be brought out in your quilt!

Your quilter should allow you to select what parts of a t-shirt you would like used on the quilt and what parts you don’t mind being discarded.  The entire shirt does not have to be used.  Take the opportunity to communicate with your quilter about how creative and unique you want your quilt to be.  Making a t-shirt quilt doesn’t have to be just cutting out the front of the t-shirt and sewing it on some fabric.  You may just want one word or symbol from the shirt, and your quilter should be able to make that happen!

When selecting a quilt maker, you will want to consider if you want someone local or a nationally renowned company.

I recommend using someone local.  This provides you the option of being able to meet with your quilter before and during the quilt-making process.  You may be able to meet in your quilter’s creative space, allowing you the opportunity to ensure the environment is smoke-free.  You may want to ask to see examples of their work.

Three things to look for when viewing the quality of a quilt, are:

  1. Is there a layout that you like? Does the layout grab your attention?
  2. Does the quilter use high-quality material and fabric for fill-in spaces?
  3. Does the quilter listen to your ideas about your vision?

Being part of the process of making your quilt can be fun and exciting!

If you are looking for a quilter, use Google to locate skilled quilters in your area.

Brown Sugar Stitchers Quilt Guild, located in Decatur, Georgia can be contacted at

Have fun being part of your quilt-making process!  Your race t-shirts have special meaning and you earned them with sweat and tears!  Display your race t-shirts proudly!

By: Eden Barbee-Mabry / (@gardenonthegram – IG/ @EdenJBe – Twitter)
Eden Barbee-Mabry is an Education Support Analyst with the State of Georgia. Eden is a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and was led to relocate to Atlanta, Georgia after graduating from Clark Atlanta University in 1988. Eden joined Black Girls Run! in the Spring of 2016 and graduated from the Walk B4 You Run program in June of 2016 and is currently Run Lead for the Fairburn, Georgia group. Eden is a purse lover and strives to inspire every woman because her belief is that although the circumstances may be different, every woman can extract strength from another woman’s story.