Wednesday, June 29, 2016

My First T-Shirt Quilt

About a year ago, I was asked by a dear friend to make a t-shirt quilt for her daughter's high school graduation.  The graduation just happened, this year, so I had plenty of time.  However, the shirts came to me in batches.  Lots of small batches. A few here and a few there as they found them, or fininished wearing them, or even just acquired the ones from the last year!   It was hard to get an idea how to start cutting them without knowing  how many, what size,  and what colors.

All of the shirts were collected from performances that  my friend's daughter had been in.  Since she was in 5th grade, this young lady has been part of a show choir type performing troupe, made up of kids age 8 - 18.  We started started going to her shows when my daughter was small, and she caught the bug!  She's been a part of the group too, for the last 5 years.  So, I have my own memories attached to many of the shirts included in the quilt, which has made it kind of a special project.   I'm sure I'll be seeing some of these designs again, when I make my own daughter's quilt, about 5 years from now!  ( Actually, she says she plans to make her own.  Can I ask for that in writing???)

As soon as the last performance of the season finished, in April, I had all the shirts in my possession. Close to 30 of them!  Originally the recipient wanted to have all the shirt fronts cut to the same size, and sashed with white. However, after measuring the largest design and doing the math, I realized that plan would result in a nearly queen sized quilt.  Larger than any of us wanted!!  Plus, because the shirts ranged in size from really, really small to adult medium, it was going to be hard to get blocks the same size from every shirt!

So I sorted and measured, sketched and measured again, and came up with a plan we agreed on.

I was even able to incorporate some of the shirt backs -the cool ones with everybody's names.  Then, the real work started.  Each t-shirt got its interfacing and was cut to the appropriate size, according to the plan.

I mentioned that I measured twice, right?  Maybe I should have made that three times, because, umm, see the gaps?

Oh well. There were still some backs left.  I made some long skinny strips of names, and filled in. Not a mistake, a design element!

It's together, now, as a top.  I'm not completely happy.  I need to unsew a few seams and line up some sections more accurately.  The thickness of the interfacing, I think, or maybe the weight of the quilt made it hard to keep a consistent seam allowance.  I will resew tomorrow night  (after spending the day watching my daughter perform with this group at the opening day of Summerfest  - The world's largest music festival!)

The quilt will need a good squaring up and, I've decided to add top, bottom and side borders, just to set the shirts off a bit.  I met the recipient and her mom last night to choose a fabric for the borders and back, and I'm really happy with it! I wasn't sure we'd find something that worked with all the oddball colors of the shirts, but I think we did it!

This is a Brother Sister Design from Hobby Lobby, and it has a very nice feel to it.  Plus, it was very reasonably priced.

Wish me luck as I baste, quilt and bind!  This is a larger quilt than I'm used to.  The graduation party is on July 25, but a small, stubborn part of me still believes that I can have it finished in time for the end of the Second Quarter Finished Along on July 7.  Hmmm.  We'll see.

Linking up with Silly Mama Quilts WIP Wednesday, Sew Fresh Quilts Let's Bee Social


  1. wonderful project!

    thanks so much for linking up!

  2. Tami, this is so sweet. I am sure she will treasure it. I made a tshirt quilt a few years back for my niece. My only regret once I got it done, was that I quilted it too densely and with the heaviness of the knit, plus the interfacing, I felt like it was a bit stiff. Lil didn't care and she uses it all the time but I just thought I would let you know. Here is the link, just in case it helps you. I wish I would have just done a loose meander but that's how one learns! :-)

  3. Tami, you filled in the gaps beautifully! What a great memory quilt!And the backing you've pick out will be perfect!