Sunday, April 2, 2017

There's a First Time for Everything

When cutting out the shirts, I realized that about 1200 of the players in the dodgeball world record game must've been non-testicled or non-standardly-testicled humans.

So, I did a thing I never thought I could/would do! Not rock climbing or sky diving or anything Cool-with-a-capital-C... I made a quilt! Well, not like a quilty-quilt with lots of piecework and patches and choosing lots of different fabrics and much actual quilted surface area, but still. My dear friend, Sol, commissioned me to turn his no-longer-wearable-but-sentimental tee shirts into a quilt. It took me awhile to get up the gumption, gather appropriate materials, and get enough other little projects done that I could get my favorite power tool serviced before tackling this big one.

After cutting the shirts and fusing the interfacing to the pieces, I played around with them all on the floor to get a mostly-balanced layout. Then I snapped this picture, so I'd remember what that layout was.

I read a few different tutorials online (thanks Pinterest!) and combined as felt right to me based on my sewing experience, what little I know about quilts and making them, etc.

All sewn together + reinforced seams.
Most of the tee-shirt quilts I saw had a polar fleece backing and no batting. Polar fleece is knit and therefore stretchy and I thought dealing with such a big, cumbersome piece of it would add unnecessary challenges for me. Also, it seemed like that would limit the usefulness as it seems too hot for most of the year. I thought it should be cozy, so chose flannel, partly because I knew I could get quilt-backing-width flannel and not have to piece the back. Sol, Of course, there are pretty limited choices in that category, but I thought the black and grey worked well as something neutral and the higher number of black and grey tee shirt. Sol gave me free rein on this.

A look at the flannel backing.

Just a few days prior starting I talked to one of my expert sewist friends, Libby, about binding and she suggested cutting the back larger, folding it over, mitering the corners, etc. I decided that was the way I was going to go for sure. Then I accidentally cut it the same size as the top. D'oh! 

All quilted and ready for binding! I sneaked this photo in just before it started snowing. At the end of March. Sigh.

The first-time quilt version of "measure twice, cut once" is "read up on binding first, then make the binding tape. I wasted some time with that, but at least I was able to used what I'd cut. I followed some well-illustrated quilt binding instructions after that, but because I didn't read before cutting and making the tape, I ended up with a weird measurement situation that made me have to wing it when attaching it to the backside, but I think the result is fine-enough looking and probably only quilters and quilt aficionados will notice it. 

You can see it has unusual proportions, but I do think that at ~44 "x 80" it will be a really good size for naps on the sofa which is what it's meant for. Whew!

Making this quilt was time consuming, but not all that difficult! Probably the hardest part is dealing with those tasks that were repetitive/tedious and manipulating the sheer volume of material as it came together. I kind of wish I hadn't been tossing my own unwearable tee shirts or cutting them up into rags. Of course my personal Heirarchy of Tees results in my tees ending their useful lives covered in paint. Not cozy.

Links to the tutorials I used for reference:

Not tee-shirt quilts, but I did read and glean information from these:

I was pretty intimidated to make a quilt os any sort, but I think starting with a a tee shirt quilt was the way to go. I don't know that I'll ever do any piece work quilting, but I may do another tee shirt quilt or even a simple whole cloth quilt someday!


  1. Oh, nice job!! The quilt top is beautifully balanced. And your binding looks excellent to me. I'm a bit jealous of Sol.

    1. Thank you! Probably the most "stressful" of the fussy bits was figuring out how to place the squares.

  2. It turned out great. My mom made a tee shirt quilt once. Once. So I can understand why you're not jumping to make another.


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