Three Memory Quilts

A dear friend and fellow teacher and church member asked me to make memory quilts from her parents’ clothes.  This commission was particularly loaded because I knew some of the back story and had seen at least some of the struggle this family faced.

The father had been through a long struggle with Lewy Body Dementia.  As a side note, March is Lewy Body Dementia Awareness Month.  For more information about this condition and the fight it involves, click here.  Having seen the family go alongside the father in this fight, I knew it had taken a huge emotional toll.  The mother’s passing was most unexpected.  She was a huge figure in the Agnes Scott College community, and friends who I knew from different circles knew of her simply because they were Agnes Scott alumni.  For more information on this fantastic college, click here. So yes, the family and community lost two special souls in a short amount of time.

So when my friend brought in three bags of sorted clothes to make three lap quilts, I knew this commission would need to be perfect.  Before beginning this quilt, like many of my memory quilts for lost loved ones, I said my memory quilt prayer and then got to work.

The colors were chosen as an homage to both parents, green for dad and purple for mom.  Of course, there are numerous shades of green and purple, so we had to get the right one.

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My sewing area has terrible lighting.  I really should fix that. 

After that was the layout and switching around anything that my friend wanted to shift.

Then I sent one picture of one of the pinned quilts and then a last picture of them all ready and folded up.  I like to save the final reveal for in-person.  We met up, and I was thrilled at how happy she was.  It’s a strange hobby when tears mean a job well done.

She sent me follow up pictures of the quilts as they were gifted to her siblings and one of herself underneath her own quilt.  Overall, it was a gratifying commission, and I’m thankful to have helped give a wonderful family some degree of comfort.  Love you, Abby!

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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!

Crawfish T-shirt Quilt

This t-shirt quilt was for a friend in memory of her father-in-law.  Apparently it was a tradition for him to get her funny shirts from the crawfish shacks he frequented.  I’ll admit some of them were pretty funny.

Pinch da Tails

 

I liked this one for another reason, too.  If I’m correct in my thinking, this is the first quilt where we picked out fabric via online; she lives in a different state.  I liked the whimsical fabric choice for the backing, and I used a coordinating fabric for the sashing.

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It was a nice thematic change of pace for me.  I’m in Georgia, so I probably won’t get the chance to make many crawfish quilts.

Related posts and blogs:

Southern Belly: Crawfish

Beyond Gumbo: My Lousiana Crawfish Po-boys

 

 

Sloth t-shirt quilt update

This is a short update on the sloth t-shirt quilt.

For the fabric around the shirts, my friend likes apple green, among many colors, so I thought it would be a good match.  Normally I go for darker colors when making the frames and borders, but since there’s so much room here I think it’ll look nice.

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For me, there’s not much else that compliments apple green better than beige.  So for the complimentary fabric, I chose an unbleached muslin.  I love how it has texture and little flecks in it.

I’ve framed the shirts so far and made most of the blocks for the other parts of the top.  I have about four blocks left to make before I can assemble the top.

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The sloth quilt is going to be on hold for a bit while I get a more time-sensitive commission taken care of.  I’ll post updates on that as well.  Stay tuned!

 

Cheerleader T-Shirt Quilt

This won’t be the last t-shirt quilt you all see.  They are sort of my bread and butter.  I do more t-shirt quilt commissions than I do anything else, and they help out with a lot around here. Graduation season is picking up, and I’m starting to see inquiries and am getting orders.  I’ve completed two already and am meeting someone for a 3rd.

In honor of graduation season coming upon us (a time that is often busier than Christmas for me), I’m doing a post on one of the senior quilts I made last year.  This one was interesting because the school colors were black and silver.  You would think this makes for a boring or “ugly” combination.  But I realized as we looked through the fabric that it was also a combination that was hard to get wrong. In fact, it made for a nice contrast to the shirts!

 

So I’ll show you guys a bit of my process.  For starters, I make a draft. This was for a basic layout – no sashing or borders.  The name was about the only frill.  I’ve gotten rather good at drafting layouts far more complicated on Microsoft Word.

Ariel Layout

I use fusible interfacing to make sure that jersey knit stays put.  It’s stretchy and likes to bunch up without a stabilizer. The shirts themselves were quick since I wasn’t doing a border.  There was one spot open, and I made a quick 9-patch to match the backing.  This is a great example of why I tell folks not to stress about how many shirts I’ll need.  I usually tell them to send me what they want included, and I’ll try to figure out a way to make them all fit.

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This one was made of the senior’s cheerleading shirts.  There were plenty to be had and a generous amount of glitter! I liked the traces of pink in the shirts; they “popped” once they were placed beside the black and silver school colors.

 

 

For the backing, my client chose an “oil slick” design that was a nice and playful balance for the black and silver school colors.  I used the same fabric in the front 9-patch as well as the letters of the name.

This particular quilt was pretty fun to make!

Related blogs and posts:

Rosebud’s Quilts: Another t-shirt quilt

Rock & Roll Marathon T-Shirt Quilt

Quilts in Common: T-shirt quilt for graduation

 

 

A quilt for me…

As I made quilt after quilt for others, I thought long and hard about what would be in mine once I decided to make it. The occasion came when I wanted to do my first craft show and needed a backdrop. I made myself a queen size quilt of all the different fandoms I had since I was little.

For backing and the sashing intersections, I chose a magenta fabric that was pretty bold and balanced it out with simple black.

Some of the shirts I already had on hand, some were gifts, some had been worn for years, and some were never worn. I had some especially made at the local screen printing place for this quilt.

At every craft show I do, it’s the biggest draw to my booth, and I learn a lot about folks based on which shirt they’re drawn to.

Fandoms include: Dr. Who, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rainbow Brite, Jane Austen, Wicked, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Firefly, The Last Unicorn, The Princess Bride, My Little Pony, Star Trek, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, DC and Marvel comics, Shakespeare, The Neverending Story, She-Ra, Studio Ghibli, Edward Gorey, Downton Abbey, Daria, Muppets, Jurassic Park, Duck Tales, and Lewis Carroll.

Related blogs and posts:
Precinct 1313

The Questing Geek

The Girly Geek

Kelly’s Ramblings

Meltingpotsandothercalamities