the tale of a t-shirt quilt
I took a t-shirt quilt class at Jackman’s a few years ago. Immediately afterward, I made my first t-shirt quilt for a college reunion fundraiser using both my husband’s and my college t-shirts plus a few that fellow alums donated. I quilted it myself on my machine–uff da!–and a classmate generously bought it.
Both daughters liked the idea of having a t-shirt quilt, and building a stash of quilt-potential t-shirts became a way of getting them to cull their drawers: those t-shirts they just could not part with but that no longer fit went down to the sewing room in a bin. In addition, we saved fabric from special sources: their first sewing projects, pj pants and favorite purses I had made them, and handmade Halloween and school-play costumes.
When Daughter #1 was a high school senior, I got to work. The t-shirt blocks are 12-inch finished squares, and I pieced the remnant fabric blocks and the smaller pieced t-shirt logo blocks to the same finished dimensions. To stabilize the t-shirt stretchiness, I used lightweight fusible interface on the t-shirt backs and framed them with 2-inch borders with 2-inch square cornerstones.
I had the top pieced and was ready to put together a backing when my daughter handed me two more t-shirts that simply had to be included. In dealing with this design challenge, my math-addled brain made a mistake: rather than adding 4 inches per side to the width and length of the backing, I added 4 inches total to the width and length. And of course, I didn’t notice this mistake until the backing was complete–argh! According to what I had read, that meant it could not be quilted on a long-arm machine because there wasn’t enough extra to mount the backing properly on the frame. I called one local quilter and left a message, asking if quilting this blunder on a long-arm machine was possible–I never heard back and I took this to mean that the answer was no.
I felt doomed to quilting it myself on my machine, and I didn’t want to re-make the backing, so I did what I usually do: I put it aside. The unfinished quilt sat on a top shelf, looming over me every time I sat down at my sewing machine.
Then two things happened. I read this blog entry, which stuck in my brain, and then I finally decided to clean my sewing room.
I love the Creative Chicks At Play blog–it is written by three sisters who sew, cook, and create. Their blog has a family-rooted, independent vibe, which I appreciate and enjoy. After having read their blog and admiring their handiwork for a while, I knew I could trust their recommendations. I contacted their quilter, Lynn Peterson, who is featured in the above-mentioned blog entry, told her my sorry tale, and asked if she thought she could take on this quilt. Lynn said yes–hallelujah!–and I bundled it off to her before she could change her mind. A short time later, it was beautifully quilted and back in my grateful hands. I will be sending my quilts her way from now on.
I put the binding on and embroidered a quilt label in time for Christmas. Here’s a view of the back that gave me so much grief but that in the end I am so glad worked out. The finished dimensions are 58″ x 72″.