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!

Darth Vader quilt

Christmas is here, and I can finally make a post about one quilt in particular.  I couldn’t make a peep about it anywhere on any of my social media outlets because the friend it was for was privy to all of them.

While visiting over the summer, a friend joked after seeing my other Star Wars silhouette quilts that I should make one with Darth Vader in the corridor – the scene in both Rogue One at the end and in Star Wars: A New Hope at the beginning.  A little while later, his sweet bride sent me a picture, asking about getting it made into a twin-sized quilt in the style I’d done with the others.

The original image
The original image

Well I LOVED the idea of all that red fabric, and I liked how it turned out as a background pattern for sure.  The silhouette was very simple, especially compared to the Rey and Kylo Ren quilt I’ve done a couple of times before.  I stuck with my usual style of using crepe back satin for the light saber.  I’ll forever love that fabric.

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The biggest surprise with this quilt was it was my first time using wool batting.  I’d heard of it before, but that was about it.  And let’s face it – I live in Georgia.  We don’t need wool blankets except for on a handful of days at best.  I was surprised at how light it was.  In fact, I halfway wondered if it wasn’t actually polyester.  I did some research and tried out the “burn test” on a small patch.  Sure enough, it burned and singed instead of melted, so it was the real deal.

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I made the quilt and then got really scared at the idea of washing this thing.  I have sinned against wool in the past, and I was nervous about repeating that mistake.  I finally decided I would rather wash it and take my chances with me first before sending it off to my friends.  So I washed it on the coldest, shortest, gentlest cycle my washing machine had to offer, and then I hung it out on my back deck to dry.  I’m proud to say that there were no casualties in the making of this quilt – cotton, wool, or otherwise.

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Related Posts:

Star Wars Quilt

Rey and BB8 Wall Quilt

Luke’s Last Sunset Wall Quilt

 

What to do with all those fabric scraps?!

When making quilts, you always have fabric scraps left over, and for the nice fabric quilters will always find a way to use every crumb of fabric.  In fact, there are even quilts called “crumb quilts” that feature all the little tidbits of fabric.  I’m not much of a crumb quilt person, and I certainly don’t have the storage room for them.  I do have a small 2 1/2″ square collection building up, though.

Scraps

When it comes to t-shirt quilts, though, the scraps issue takes on a whole other meaning.  Most t-shirt quilt blocks feature less than half of the fabric actually used in the shirt, and jersey knit doesn’t make for a nice scrap collection.  So what to do with all those fabric scraps?!

Scrap pile
I disturbed my cat’s resting place when I took this picture.

I’m so glad you asked. I make dog/cat beds out of them and donate them to the Society of Humane Friends of Georgia.

I cannot begin to gush enough about this organization or the tireless people who dedicate their time and energy to these precious animals.  Every Saturday you can find them, as well as other groups, stationed outside or inside Petco and PetSmart, trying to find families to adopt animals.  And they are so patient and sweet.  If the dog/cat damages their home, the costs come out of their own pockets.  The time they spend trying to socialize and rehabilitate some of the more traumatized animals is positively angelic. Not to mention they’re always on hand to attend to the medical needs of neglected and injured animals.  And they aren’t just trying to find any home for these animals.  They’re trying to find the RIGHT home.  They list the ideal circumstances for each animal to make sure both animal and owner are happy.

I sent out a call a while back asking friends if they had any thicker/non-quilting fabric that they wished to get rid of.  The thicker fabric does better in the long run as beds – more durable.  I’m proud to say several answered the call, and I have a ridiculous amount of fabric on hand specifically for dog/cat beds.

I tear the leftover t-shirt fabric into smaller pieces.  There’s also leftover batting strips too small to salvage as well as quilting fabric way too small to use (for me, anyway).  Then I’ll turn on a movie and stuff those scraps into the squares I’ve prepped, sewing the opening shut by hand. I can’t stuff them too full, though, or they won’t fit inside the crates.

It’s a small effort on my part, but the knowledge that maybe I’ve helped out the foster parents in some way makes me happy.  They do so much and deserve so much more.  We have two cats and a dog.  All three are connected to this organization in some way.

Eleanor
I love Eleanor. She can be a bit judgey at times.

Eleanor was part of a box of cats that was abandoned in front of PetCo one Saturday morning before adoptions started. Apparently a hearse drove up, dumped off a box of black and white cats, and drove off.  The adoption folks couldn’t take them with their own animals because the cats weren’t vetted up, etc.  But because they are the loving people that they are, they promised that anyone who took home one of the hearse cats would have the cat’s first round of shots and the spay/neuter paid for.

Jordan
He’s an excellent spooning partner – if a little mouthy at times.

If I have cash on me and pass by that store on a Saturday morning (which is a lot considering it’s right beside JoAnn’s), I always try to donate something.  One morning I went and saw a little orange cat.  He twisted, turned, and did the “buy me” dance, licked my finger, and won my heart.  I went home and spoke with my husband and roommate, and we all agreed Eleanor needed a friend. So in comes Jordan!

Diana
I am greeted every morning with excitement twirls. Such a self-esteem boost!

The last family member to join us is Diana (the Wonder Dog).  She came after a lot of thought and consideration.  We went back and forth for about two weeks when I saw a sponsored ad for her asking why no one had adopted her yet.  I put in an application about an hour later, and the foster mom met me on Monday to take her home for a week trial.  She’s been a blessing ever since.  An added bonus is that she likes to slide down playground slides!

If you’re considering getting a pet for your family, I cannot recommend adopting from the Society of Humane Friends enough!

Related blogs and posts:

Society of Humane Friends of Georgia
Savannah’s Paw Tracks

Another Good Dog

Harley’s Dream: End Puppy Mills

Tis the season!…for Quilt Scams on Facebook

Over the last few days, I’ve seen a lot, and I mean A LOT, of targeted advertisements for commercial quilts.  It made sense.  I’m a quilter, and I am probably in one of the top ten hits from any targeted ad involving quilts.  No surprise there.

I’ll admit I was taken in by the beauty of these advertisements at first, but as I had no intention of buying them I didn’t look all too closely.  It wasn’t until a sweet person in one of my quilting groups asked about the fabric in one that I learned the truth.  Another person posted the link to a news segment about the scam.  They used the name of a store that was only slightly off, and that poor store had received numerous calls from scam victims asking when their quilt would arrive.  Over and over again, that lady had to break the news to them that they’d been scammed.  I was surprised when I recognized the image of the scam as similar to ones that had been on my news feed pretty constantly.  Some of my other friends had also taken notice, and I believe they tried to buy them.

Here’s what a few minutes of poking around amounted to.   Here’s the original image that probably came across your news feed.  It’ll be this quilt or any variation therein.

Quilt image

 

If you click on the link, you’ll find a legit spot where you can buy it.  It has all sorts of useful information on payments, customer reviews, shipping, etc.

buying

If you need to contact them, there is either a form, like on this page, or some type of email address. This one was the first I’d seen with a full address.  The others either didn’t have an address or it was partial.  The lack of a phone number, or at least a working one, is a dead giveaway.

contact us

I looked up the address, and this was what I found on the street view. The house to one side is 2030, and the house to the other side is 2060.  There is NO 2055 Hazel Ave at this location or across the street.

street view

Ok, so the next step would be to try the email address.  This isn’t the first one to do this.  Another one I tried had a space in between the front of the email and the “@” symbol.  I closed that gap so it would work correctly, but I never did hear back.  This particular email address bounced back within a minute.

bounced email

So no phone number, no correct address, and no email.  Yeah, this isn’t a legit product at all.  I went back in and looked at the merchandise itself since that was the original draw.  I’m not sure where the images for the quilts/blankets themselves came from, but they are most certainly photo shopped.

In this set, it’s pretty cool how, in the red circle, you can see the quilt is placed in the exact same spot of the display.  I’m good at set ups, but I’m never that good.  It also has the same fold up top.  And in the yellow circle, you can see that the editor got sloppy and didn’t change the red binding color or navy blue backing in that spot – even if the front of the quilt had no such binding or colors.

Photoshop set 1

In the second set, you can see the same issues. The leaves fall gracefully over the quilt in the exact same way.  The same fold can be seen in the blue circle, and even the smaller creases in the yellow circle are duplicated.

Photoshop set 2

So what happens now?  For a good while, I reported as many to Facebook as I could find.  When given the option, I specifically reported it was “misleading or scam”.  I remembered the news segment saying that Facebook was actively trying to take down the scam, but it was going strong on my feed despite the news segment being four days old now.

Here’s what I have received so far in regards to my reports.  Long story short – the advertisement itself is fine and goes with their standards.  I suppose they are washing their hands clean of the fact that they know it’s an active scam.

Facebook feedback

Funny enough, I tried to find a link where I could email them directly and explain why the ads were scam.  However, just like the websites I investigated, I couldn’t find an actual email or message section.  Funny how that works, right?

Long story short – please don’t be taken in by these ads that seem too good to be true.  They are.  Please share and reshare to spread awareness since Facebook seems uninterested in taking them down.

Fox Quilt

**This quilt is currently for sale in my Etsy shop: Fox Quilt listing

This quilt is a remnants bin challenge result.  I found some cute fox fabric in the JoAnn’s remnants bin and used what I had at the house to build a quilt around it – gray, black, and two orange hues.  I was happy with the result, especially since I finally found a use for the orange and black hounds tooth flannel I bought last Black Friday.

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I do wish I’d arranged the colors differently, though.  My original goal was to have a gradient effect.  I’ve grown to like it, though, and I added a few little foxes around the other blocks to create an interesting focal point.

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Related blogs and posts:

Fox Face Quilt Square Pattern

No More Humidicrib Quilts

Forgive my tardiness – fox quilt

 

 

 

 

Craft Fair Season Fall ’18 – done!

Alrighty, so I’m all finished with my craft fairs as of last weekend.  I decided that no one was going to buy quilts during the spring, so I shifted all my focus to fall shows, undertaking four shows in six weeks.  This wouldn’t sound like much to someone who does shows all the time, but as a teacher with two small kids – it’s a lot.  My kids were begging me not to go by the  3rd show.

I’ve placed any quilts that haven’t sold up on my Etsy store, so feel free to take a look.

Quest Quilts Etsy Shop

Here’s what I learned as a seller of quilts at shows.

  1. You can tell within the first two hours what kind of a day you’re going to have.  Plenty of people will stop and “oooh” and “ahhh”, but if they aren’t actually looking at the price tags then don’t get your hopes up.
  2. Gender-neutral or “boy” quilts sell faster.  Not sure why.  Maybe because many quilts look decidedly “girly”?
  3. When you sell one quilt the entire show, it’ll be both good and bad.  You’ll think, “Yay, I made my booth fee back and then some!”  You’ll also realize, “Well, after my booth fee I basically made $40.  I sat there for 8+ hours for $40?”
  4. Commissions are a delayed gratification for doing these shows.  So while you may not sell the ready-made stuff, the commissions later on do add up and make it worthwhile.
  5. People love to share stories of how their family members were also quilters.  They’ll tell you all about them while standing in the middle of your booth, blocking other people from seeing in.
  6. Be sweet to your booth neighbor, especially if you’re in your booth alone.  You may need that person to stand between booths so you can run to the bathroom.
  7. Outside craft fairs are havoc for crafts that involve fabric.  I was downwind from a BBQ vendor one show.  My quilts smelled like BBQ afterwards.  This could be cool for a bit, but in the end it involved me tumbling them in the dryer with dryer sheets in an attempt to get rid of the smell.  I’ve heard of other vendors experiencing the same thing with kettle corn booths nearby as well.
  8. There was also the issue of smokers at outdoor shows.  I had folks smoke near my stuff, and one cigarette came within an inch of my personal t-shirt quilt that I use at shows.  I panicked.  I also had one show begin a fire pit a few feet from my booth, and I finally agreed to move my booth mid-show to another spot.  It still didn’t work, and I had to, once again, air out and tumble my product in an attempt to get the smell out.
  9. Some people can be quite passive aggressive about prices, and it isn’t cute.
  10. It’s a special feeling when you meet someone who has the same sense of humor and/or interest as you.  I loved talking about Dr. Who and Star Wars with folks.
  11. People seem more inclined to come in and shop around if you’re reading a magazine or book.  Maybe there’s less pressure?  They don’t feel like they’re being scrutinized?
  12. There is such a feeling of accomplishment when someone says your quilt is “perfect” for someone they know as they buy it.  Gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling.

There was also the issue of my role as vendor vs artist, but that’s for another post.  Stay tuned.

 

Related blogs and posts:

Craft Fairs, Bookmarks, & Squirrels in my Van…

Craft Fair Season is Here!

Craft fair fun

The Craft Booth – a blog