DIYdiy projects

diy wednesday: vintage shirt patchwork “quilt”

by the curiosity shoppe

They say a new year means new beginnings, which for us means it’s time to purge. Looking through our “get rid of” pile we started feeling a bit sentimental, so we arrived at a compromise: Take a stack of Derek’s old shirts, one of our ho-hum duvet covers, cut them up and refashion them into something completely new. Since we’ve been itching to make a quilt forever, but can’t find the time for another long-term project, we whipped up this instant-gratification pseudo-quilt instead. We earned some much-needed closet space, and saved ourselves a trip to the Goodwill. Just click here for the full project instructions or click “read more” below.

Happy 2008!
Derek & Lauren

Here’s what you’ll need:
-15 men’s shirts
-solid-color duvet cover
-rotary cutter (you can buy one at jo-ann fabrics right here)
-self-healing cutting mat (like these)
-sewing machine

1. Our duvet cover measures 80″ x 80″, so we cut out 64 squares, each measuring 11″ x 11″
(32 from Derek’s old shirts and 32 from the top piece of our existing duvet cover, which we took apart at the seams.) We were able to get 2-3 squares from each shirt.

2. Lay out squares on the floor in an 8×8 grid and arrange them into a pattern that you like. Pin numbered scraps of paper (1-8) onto the first square of each of the 8 rows so they stay in order as you stack them up and bring them to the sewing machine.

3. Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, sew squares with right sides together to create strips. Press open all the seams with a hot iron.

4. Once all 8 strips have been sewn, attach strip #1 to strip #2 and press open seam. Attach strip #3 to strip #4, press open seam, and then attach to strips 1 and 2. Repeat with remaining strips until they are all attached. Make sure to pay attention to the numbered squares so they stay in the right order!

5. With right sides together, attach top (patchwork) piece to the bottom piece of your old duvet cover, leaving a 3′ opening at the bottom.

6. Turn right side out, fold up raw edges at opening and attach 3-4 buttons (from one of the shirts!) to the bottom piece. Use the buttonhole function on your sewing machine to create buttonholes on the opposite piece.

7. Insert your comforter or duvet, button it up and settle down for a cozy afternoon nap!

Suggested For You


  • I have the top piece to a quilt made from my old t-shirts, with all the designs showing – camp, academic derby, local festivals, etc – but I never got around to putting on a backing piece (I think I was afraid). The duvet idea is great.

  • This is such fun idea! A bunch of my husband’s western shirts are getting tired, and I joked about making pillows out of them. This may be the happy compromise.

  • Grace, sorry this is probably not the right place to ask this but I just read it and I’m shocked. Did you really say this in that NYT’s article? “I say go back to the real thing — to real hunting chic — and hang a dead animal’s head on your wall.” I find it kind of irresponsible.

  • wondering

    i followed that sentence by saying “but i would never tell anyone to do that”. it was cut off to make a snazzier quote. i’ve learned my lesson not to be quite so jokey with the ny times.


  • This is so cute. You guys are a great addition to Design Sponge. Grace, I’d be really mad at the nyt for quoting me like that. How unprofessional.

  • courtney

    nah, it was my fault for forgetting that you can’t really always get across sarcasm properly in an interview.

    i was appreciative as always for being included in the interview. i just need to remember to be a bit savvier with my quotes ;)


  • The D.I.Y. spots are my favorite part of Design Sponge. Even when I have no intention of ever making the project, I always enjoy reading about it.

  • Are these DYI guys, runaways from Martha Stewart. I’m not sure about the sewing machine part. Could I use stitch wich. You know that thing you iron on instead of sewing so i could do this with just a Iron and scissors?

  • Yay~ What a cool project! I’ve always wanted to make a quilt but don’t have the patience but this is a real “two birds with one stone” kinda project so I think I might actually do it!

    PS: That apple pillow is SUPER cute! Is that handmade too, or can I ask where you got it? ^_^

  • i love this quilt! i just made my first quilt using old hankies…but my squares are not as perfect as yours! how DO you do that?? (not through care and patience, i hope…i don’t have too much of them…here’s to the ‘handmade look’!)

  • I’ve been saving a bunch of my husband’s worn out blue dress shirts (all different plaids and plain shades) to do this exact thing with one day! Now, if only I had a sewing machine…

  • What a neat coincidence. Just yesterday I was telling myself that I really (no, really this time) need to sort through that bin of old flannel work shirts I never wear anymore. . . but I just couldn’t stand the thought of actually getting rid of them (Hi, my name is Susan and I’m a really big packrat). This is such a perfect idea. Thank you!

  • Instead of taking apart a duvet, you could always use two flat sheets. Cut apart one for the top, then use the other as the back of the duvet.

  • does anyone know a person who does quilting professionally ?? I’m looking for one …thxs

  • My mother-in-law did one like this, using my husband’s old heavy flannel shits, for my grandson. She made sure to include the sections with the button down pockets. My grandson was always putting a toy or two in those pockets when he went to bed.

  • I made mine all out of thrifted clothes and i absolutely love it! I used different shades of dark gray skirts for the gray blocks and button up shirts and dresses for the pattern blocks. I even kept some of the pockets from the shirts to put a remote control in. ^_^
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  • Grace, I have also been dreaming of making a quilt, but am an inexperienced hand at the sewing machine.

    Could you (or any DS readers) clarify your sewing instructions?


  • Love th eproject, I was always intimidated by the stakcing with batting actual backing quilting project. I have old hubby shirts and a worn duvet. PERFECT!

  • This is just fab!.Thankyou so much for sharing it.Im going to attempt a scottish tartan style one for hubby.Watch this space