Monday, October 27, 2014


double four patch by Paula the Quilter

One of my blog friends, Paula the Quilter (and knitter), invited me to join in the Around the World Blog Hop, which includes a few questions and answers:

What am I working on? Right now I am making two t-shirt quilts (in my head).

IT IS TIME, time to gather t-shirts and make a quilt for graduation. A family tradition for two generations now, and this year there are two high school seniors in the family.

A little background... In the 80s or 90s, I don't remember exactly when, I read an article in a magazine (remember those glossy soft book-like things where we used to get ideas) about a mom who had saved t-shirts from her child growing up (sports, school, vacation, etc.) and put them together in a quilt for the child to take to college. I loved this idea, so immediately started saving my kids' tees.


Around the turn of the century (2000), I made one for each of my two girls, the design all uniform, in rows, one-directional. Initially I used yarn to tie the quilt sandwich together, but found that did not last, so after much use those two got refurbished and quilted properly.

I thought I was finished making t-shirt quilts, you know - been there, done that!

THEN the grandkids started coming along, and they told me they were saving their t-shirts for their graduation quilt that granma Susan would make for them...

How does my work differ from others of its genre? The actual work of sewing and quilting does not differ from others, but the finished product is very personal and unique and full of granma love.

t-shirt quilt
granddaughter Sarah's - all in rows, one direction, added t-scraps for border

t-shirt quilt
grandson Kyle's - rows again but shirts turned different directions

Why do I create what I do? Tradition, family, memories, rite of passage, milestones, recycling.

NEXT I tried to do one without rows, and came up with this one (below), which was more in sections than rows, a little bit harder. Carrie wanted it more random, even without sashing, but I found that not using sashing at all made it too stretchy. This very minimal strip (1/2" black between the shirts) made the colors really pop out.

t-shirt quilt
daughter Carrie's #2

NOW we are now caught up to present day. I have 2 more grandchildren to make quilts for - in time for graduation next spring. 

With all these past experiences and pictures to build on, I asked my last two granddaughters what design, color theme, and backing they wanted for their t-shirt quilts. I showed them pictures of my past quilts and lots of links to ideas on Pinterest.

Madison: "I like Kyle's and Carrie's where they're not all just laid out in squares but instead rotated to fit and has the rectangles and squares. Maybe, if there's enough, use the squares from fronts of shirts as the border (like Sarah's)...just a thought. I'm gonna stick with basic black background. Flannel on the back! Don't know color yet..."

How does my creating process work? The creative process includes input from the person who will be receiving the quilt, time spent with that person, trial and error, and again lots of love!

Tee time table:

Save t-shirts forever
Give t-shirts to Granma by 11th grade
Last call for t-shirts mid 12th grade
Wash t-shirts
Cut out designs to be used
First draft laid out on floor
Decide on layout and sizes
Iron on fusible backing
Cut out squares
Decide on color for strips
Sew together top
Get fabric for backing
Take to quilter
Pick up from quilter
Make label
Finish binding

SO, it is that time, time to start sewing on these quilts. 

BUT, I am on the road, 1500 miles away from home and hearth and sewing machine. 

When are you coming home to make my quilt, granma?

Soon! Don't worry, it will get done. I am working on it right now.

In my head :)

here are a couple of blogs where I get great inspiration:
Linda at life, quilts, and a cat too (great t-shirt quilt inspiration)
Wanda at Exuberant Color

1 comment:

Paula, the quilter said...

Hopefully, I don't get any more requests to do a t-shirt quilt. I really didn't enjoy it, but it is very likely since the grandbabies are starting to arrive.