So, last year, we were in Houston for Thanksgiving with my favorite Aunt, Uncle and Cousin–and Aunt Jeannie (that is, Crazy Aunt Jeannie) pulled out a boatload of old t-shirts that they had collected from their travels through the years. She said, “I wish there was something we could do with these besides give them to charity.” I told her that I would make them a quilt.
I don’t know what I was thinking–I have never made a quilt–t-shirt or otherwise–and I am not a great seamstress. I sew a bit on my spiffy new machine the girls bought me a few years ago (thanks, sweeties!) but am not very good. I guess I figured it was all straight lines so how hard could it be?
Side story–when pregnant with my eldest, I decided to sew bumper pads, a quilt, dust ruffle and curtains for the baby’s room. I did this on the old machine (I think my mom got it when she graduated high school–in 1957) which tended to jam and without a pattern–because that is how I roll. My ex-husband said, “You remind me of my mom when you sew.” I thought that was sweet and asked him, “Do you have happy memories of your mom at the sewing machine?” He said, “No–you cuss as much as she did when she was sewing.”
Anyway, I started this after we got home. I measured all of the design areas and cut squares and rectangles in widths to make columns–and then decided which pieces should be in which column to make each one 84 inches tall. (Once again, the planning part is not natural to me–this is as precise as I have ever gotten–and it WORKED!)
I sewed the pieces into columns and bought a king size velour blanket to use for the backing. I really wanted to give this to them for Christmas of 2012–but, I had too much on my plate–and had to send them a photo of what was to come. Then I put it away. I looked at the strips and the blanket all year–and just mustered up the courage to finish it two weeks before Thanksgiving of 2013.
I sewed the strips together and decided to attach it to the blanket by topstitching down the column seams. I measured and pinned–and unpinned and repinned at least 4 times before I got it anywhere close to even. Then started topstitching near the middle.
If I wasn’t so competitive, I would have slashed it with scissors and thrown it in the fire. Holy cow–the blanket I used was WAY too thick–and I had to roll up the edge to feed it through my machine. it was so heavy that it was hard to keep on the machine–and I had to walk away a few times, drink wine, sleep and then start again. After a few days, I was done.
There are some places where the blanket pulled–and got sewn into the topstitching with a buckle. I asked my daughter if I should rip out those seams and re-do them. She said, “They are old–they won’t see the mistakes.” I told her, “Actually, they never see my mistakes. If I stood on top of the Thanksgiving dinner table and wet my pants, they would applaud me for being so clever!”
Well, the reaction I got when I delivered the blanket this Thanksgiving made the process so worthwhile. They loved the blanket–and kept talking about all the places they had been and their favorite travel memories. They are gathering more shirts so that I can make one for my cousin next. His will be backed with a sheet–not an inch thick blanket!
Have any of you made T-Shirt Quilts? If so, will you share your secrets for success with me? Thanks!