Harley Davidson quilt

A while back I received a request to finish a quilt someone’s neighbor had begun years ago. It was a Harley Davidson quilt.

“The shirts are already cut!” he told me. Normally I brace myself when I hear that because it means more work for me. Folks cut the shirts without stabilizer or with no consistent size. But this fella’s neighbor had done her homework! The shirts were stabilized and mostly consistently cut.

He wanted a different type of border than I’d used in the past, but I could see how’d they’d done it easily enough. The original t-shirt quilt he’d seen was in a museum in Florida.

And typical me…it was raining, so I didn’t get a finished picture.

Here are a couple of in-progress ones. You get the idea.

New adventures

I love the craft fairs and being a vendor at them.  They’re fun, and I get to meet lots of different people.  But one issue I run in to is that I don’t sell many smaller items.  Much of my inventory is higher priced, so I’m learning what shows work for me.

Lots of folks will come by and oohhh and aaaahhh, but if they aren’t bothering to look at price tags, they didn’t come prepared to shop.  And if you’re selling larger priced items, you need to find shows where people are prepared to shop.  Shows that are focused on something else and have thrown vendors in as an aside don’t often do well for larger-priced items.

So I’ve found that Spring shows haven’t done well for me in the past.  Let’s face it – quilts don’t sell well in warm weather.  I’d sworn I wasn’t going to do anymore Spring shows, but two came up that I just couldn’t resist giving a try.

One is the Riley Day event, April 27th, hosted by the fine people over at the Amanda Riley Foundation. All proceeds from that show go to support families as they deal with childhood cancer, and the more I learn about the Riley family the more I want to support them.  So I figure it’s a win no matter what, and the fact that it would reach my niche client group is a major bonus.

The other event is my biggest event yet – the Vintage Market Days of Greater Atlanta, May 31-June 2.  Vintage Market Days specializes in antiques, recycled and up-cycled art and decor, and they have shows all over the USA.  My daughter and I went on a reconnaissance visit to the Christmas one, and I thought I might do alright at it.  My daughter gave her 8 year’s wisdom and agreed that it was worth a shot.  Again, the people attending looked like they might be in my niche client group – folks who liked sentimental items, especially re-purposed ones.  So I don’t know how my ready-made items will do, but I’m thinking my t-shirt quilt commissions will fair well.

Since the big event is also inside, I’m trying something new with my booth layout, and I’ll use the Riley Day event to test it out.  So here’s hoping the new layout pays off.

So if you’re in the area, come on by and say hi!

 

School Fundraiser Quilt

This quilt commission has the fastest turn-around time to date – 3 days!  A cousin messaged me about making a small quilt for her son’s school fundraiser.  Luckily, I had all the colors already on hand: navy blue, red, and white.  And I even had the blue flannel backing already as well!

I placed class pictures, the school logo, and the mascot in the center four squares.

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The kids are supposed to sign in the outer four white blocks.

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I like it and think  it makes a cute fundraiser!

Science Quilt

This little lap quilt is finally finished.  I had to keep putting it on hold because of other projects coming in. I found some of the fabric at a neat fabric store that mostly has odd sizes and remnants.  Another section of the fabric was purchased after Thanksgiving at one of the big JoAnn’s sales.  I’m happy that all three fabrics meshed together.  The big symbols were part of a panel.  The periodic table fabric was a remnant.  And, of course, the science geek fabric was the most plentiful.

I decided to go with a medium blue flannel fabric for the backing, and I hoped it would compliment the front well.  My other option was navy blue, but I think this flannel worked out pretty well.  It brings out some of the lighter blue in the front.

This one will go up for sale at the spring craft shows first, and then I’ll put it online if it doesn’t sell at those.

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New Shop!

Etsy isn’t working out for me.  Since they changed their search formula, my shop has been dead in the water.  And this past weekend they had a glitch that charged sellers some crazy, unexpected fees.  Some folks, like me, were hit with only a “small” charge like $78.  Others were hit with three, four, five, or even SIX DIGIT charges!  And though Etsy is claiming it was a “small number of sellers”, the forums I was in paint a different picture.

See here for more news on the Etsy glitch. 

Aside from that, it seems I’m paying them fees to promote my listings each month with little to no return.  Even trying the newer SEO searches hasn’t really netted any results.

So…

I made a shop page on here to see if that made a difference.

So please, feel free to poke around my new shop page and see what all is going on!

Quest Quilts Shop

Memory Quilt Prayer

For the most part, my quilting hobby is fun, especially the t-shirt quilt commissions.  I love the look on someone’s face (usually a sneaky mom who smuggled shirts to me) when they see those shirts made into a quilt their senior will take to college.  But sometimes the quilt commissions can take a more somber tone.  Sometimes I’m tasked with a commission to make a memory quilt from clothes from a loved one that has passed on.  I’ve made memory quilts from clothes of both deceased younger and older folks, and it’s a profound task, preserving memories of someone else’s loved one.

My first t-shirt quilts were from my father’s clothes, and they showed me the healing power of a memory quilt.  My father died unexpectedly, and I had a lot of anger mixed in with my grief.  It was an anger that I didn’t know what to do with, and I felt powerless to confront.  And then my grandmother told me I’d be making four t-shirt quilts for myself, her, and my two other sisters.  And it was in the making of these that I found a degree of peace and finally felt like I could say goodbye. Clothes are probably the hardest part of a loved one to reliquish.  We remember what they looked like in them, which ones they favored, and they even smell like that person for a long time afterwards.

I was nervous when I made a memory quilt for someone outside of my own family.  It was for a young man who had passed away from cancer.  I remember gulping a bit as I finished up the design process and was ready to make those initial cuts into the shirts.  Again, the idea of preserving those memories for someone else is daunting.  So I prayed.  I placed my hand on the bags of clothes and prayed for guidance, peace for the grieving family, and the ability to do that person’s memory justice.  Whenever I have a quilt that has a similar back story, I take the time to pray beforehand, asking for the same guidance.

I thought I would share that prayer with you all in case you find yourself faced with a similar challenge. Feel free to use, adjust, or change as needed.

“Heavenly Father, I pray your guidance as I make this quilt.  Please guide my hands that I may do justice to this person’s memory.  May this quilt bring their family comfort in their grief and remind them of more joyful times.  In your name I pray, amen.”

 

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A memory quilt made from nice business causal clothes. This lady was an artist, so I arranged it by color and placed her own artwork in the middle.
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A memory quilt made from dress shirts. I managed to keep the collars on and featured.
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A memory quilt for a friend using the shirts her father-in-law gave her over the years.
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A memory quilt made from dress shirts and t-shirts. This is the mother holding it after it was gifted to her as a surprise.

What to look for when buying a t-shirt quilt – a published article

I’m very excited that my article on what to look for in a t-shirt quilt was published in my local community magazine.  I’m going to post the link to it, but I’m also going to post the article itself here.

Online link to magazine 

Link to information about ordering a t-shirt quilt from me. 

Article

With the availability and affordability of screen printing, t-shirts have become more popular than ever.  It seems they are the most common souvenir these days – outpacing coffee mugs, key chains, and bumper stickers. Does anyone even collect snow globes anymore?  We even say, “Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt.” They now come with most events: road races, family reunions, clubs, concerts, VBS, school, and especially anything sports-related.  For many of us, our closets are bursting with t-shirts of which, as a guess, only a small percentage actually get worn. It’s common to have a sacred collection of shirts, be it from high school, college, a fraternity, or otherwise, that we simply refuse to throw away.  But while our memories may be plentiful, storage often is not. Walk through any second-hand store, and you’ll see plenty of discarded shirts from various occasions.  Particularly sad are the uniforms that are donated.

As graduation season looms, many parents may be nervously looking at those piles of shirts their senior has collected over the years, shirt they aren’t “allowed” to get rid of, and wondering what will become of them.  Bags of clothes sit around in closets, garages, and attics, waiting for nothing.  So what’s to be done with these fabric memories?  A lot of people have found that making them into t-shirt and memory quilts is an excellent alternative.  The shirts are seen once again and put to good use.

There are plenty of local folks who offer this service in addition to several online companies.  However, since quilting itself is an art form, not all services will result in the same product or quality.  If you’re interested in getting a quilt made from your t-shirts, uniforms, or any other clothes, here’s a helpful guide on how to ensure the best quality product.

Blanket – is it actually a quilt or a blanket?  A quilt is different from a blanket in a couple of major ways.  A blanket may have one or two layers, but a quilt will have three: a front, back, and middle (called batting). It will have those three layers sewn together with a design.  This sewing of the layers together is called “quilting”, and it’s what separates a quilt from a regular blanket.  It’s why they last many years more than a blanket.

Materials – what’s included with the price? The batting and backing of a quilt can be quite expensive.  Quality batting can go anywhere from $30-$60+.  The backing fabric can require anywhere from 4-8 yards of fabric, and quality fabric from run anywhere from $8-$15 a yard.  So when you look at a price, remember to check and see what that price includes.  A seemingly small price can add up quickly if it doesn’t include the backing and batting.

Stabilizer – do they use it?  If you’ve ever cut a t-shirt, you’ll notice that the material, jersey knit, rolls and shifts a lot.  When making a quilt from fabric like this, a quilter needs to use a material called “stabilizer” to ensure the fabric doesn’t roll, shift, or bunch up as the quilt is sewn together and later on quilted.  Seams that bulge and twist and aren’t straight are usually signs that someone didn’t use stabilizer.  When used, stabilizer gives the shirts a clean look that is flat and straight.

Batting – what kind of batting do they use? Batting can be made of several different materials.  Polyester is the most cost effective, but it doesn’t last over the years as well and isn’t as warm.  Cotton is warm and washes well over the years.  Wool batting is the most expensive as well as the warmest, but it does come with the same tricky washing guidelines that all wool products do.  Most t-shirt quilts will go for polyester or cotton.  Cotton is generally more reliable and longer-lasting.

Quilting – the closer the quilting design the longer it’ll last.  The quilting that goes throughout a quilt holds it together and makes it last over the years.  That being said, most batting does well with a quilting pattern that is spaced 10” or closer.  It also drapes better and lasts through multiple washes longer.  Quilting patterns spaced too far apart will often result in batting that shifts or bunches after a short while, leaving a lumpy and unattractive quilt.

The “Movie Test” – A short self-check that is an easy gauge of a t-shirt quilt or t-shirt blanket’s quality is called the “movie test.”  If you put on a full-length movie and sat down with scissors and a seam-ripper, would you be able to disassemble that entire quilt or blanket by the end of the credits?  If you can disassemble it in that short amount of time, then the quality is lower.  A good quilt takes ages to take apart because of the materials and close-set quilting design.

These are some of the basic elements that will vary greatly among t-shirt quilt services.  Don’t be afraid to ask them for specifics and options.  Pinterest as a lot of great ideas, but be careful in matching your design expectations to costs.  The fancier the design, the more time and materials invested in to it.  Online services offer lower prices, but local services can offer more customization.  Whichever way you decide, here’s to reviving those happy memories and freeing up storage space all in one product!