Friday, February 10

Memory Quilt

This post is long overdue, but here ya go anyway :)

My uncle passed away a little over a year ago, leaving my sweet Aunt Beth and cousin Jelena. He also left quite the collection of t-shirts representing all the things he loved: Detroit sports, the University of Michigan, and Harley Davidson. My aunt commissioned a quilt made of the shirts to help preserve his memory.
I have to admit I was hesitant to start, primarily because I had never done a quilt like this before. I tend to avoid knits like the plague and the thought of an entire quilt of knit fabric scared me. In the end, it wasn't so bad and I thought I'd share what I learned so you will be inspired to jump right in on your own memory quilt.
I started by cutting all the shirts down to just the printed area. I held onto the backs and extra fabric in case I needed to fill any gaps later.

After cropping the designs, I laid out the quilt in a very rough shape so I could get an idea of size. I wanted a good couch size quilt, around 60"X70" and had just enough tshirts to make that work. {I should mention here that these shirts were large sizes, so you would need more small shirts than represented here.} 

I ironed lightweight interfacing {the cheap $0.99 stuff from Joann's} to the back of each shirt to help prevent weird stretching before cutting it down to exact size.
I did a little math and figured I could do four rows of shirts, each cut to about 14.5" wide. I bough two yards to fleece, which gave me about a 72"X58" backing I needed to fit. After trimming each shirt to that width, I laid them all out again and got a feel for how tall each piece needed to be. 

This was a bit of a puzzle - I wanted to make sure the colors were well-balanced while keeping the columns close to even in height. After I got them where I wanted I started sewing them together, cutting lengths as I went. 
Sew the columns to each other and voila! - you have a quilt top. I opted to just sew the front to the back - right sides together - and then flip it right side out {envelope style}. I did two rows of top-stitching around the edges to finish the opening and give the quilt a nice finished edge. The nature of the fleece and interfaced-shirts make them stick together fairly well, I didn't feel the need to do any quilting. The resulting quilt is a very nice, heavy weight, perfect for cuddling on the couch and staying warm through those cold Michigan months. 
If you are considering a t-shirt quilt, I highly recommend just jumping in. Interfacing is key, but beyond that, there's really no rules. No one will be looking to see if your seams are straight because they will be admiring the shirts and the memories they bring. It's also a great way to clean out those drawers full of old shirts you can't bear to part with but don't wear anymore.

Have you ever made a t-shirt quilt? Do you have any more tips to share? 

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2 comments:

Kara said...

So so cute and what a fantastic memory for them. My dad's would probably end up looking about the same way. He's from Michigan and can talk about them nonstop.

Meredith Daniel said...

My husband has so many tshirts that passed there expiration date years ago. He loves them though, so they are taking up room in his dresser. This is an awesome way for him to be able to use the shirts still without burning my eye sockets with his armpit holes. I know what I'll be asking him when he gets home....

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