Send your kids to college with pieces from the past and the comfort of home; make a T-shirt quilt!
by Tricia Patterson, Quiltmaker Managing Editor
For several months now I’ve been seizing free time to diligently go through all our stuff to sort out things to keep and those to throw away. A couple weekends ago, I rediscovered a number of T-shirts I’ve been keeping for my two sons. (Please note here, neither of my sons has lived with me in a very long time. Each of them have their own homes, are married and have children of their own who are producing lots of school and sports T-shirts to stash.) I kept all these shirts thinking that I would turn them into quilts one day. As I spent a few moments with the memories they brought back to me about my young men, I decided that the time to make those quilts is now.
I’ve only had one foray into T-shirt quilt making, and it was not what I would call a great success. This time, I decided to start with getting advice from the experts. I tuned in to watch DIY T-Shirt Quilts!, a class I found on Craft Online University. The class took me through making a T-shirt quilt step-by-step: how to best cut out the motif and to make the T-shirts even more interesting by adding sashing and borders. The greatest tip of all was to iron on a stabilizer before you cut out around the motif of the T-shirt to make the quilt patches.
I thought I’d start one quilt, just to make sure I could do it. I picked up a package of June Tailor T-Shirt Project Fusible Interfacing, a woven fabric that gave weight to the T-shirts, making them more manageable to sew together. I pulled some inspiration from a 2015 September/October issue of Quiltmaker, Paula Stoddard’s Quilted Memories pattern. She designed a quilt that joined T-shirts with square patches of fabric. I chose lighter-weight denim (because it seemed to be another “constant” of my sons’ youth) and a couple of fabrics from the Northcott Toscana collection to pull all the different colors of the T-shirts together for my oldest son’s quilt. I chose the Toscana fabrics specifically because they have a really rich color texture.
Last night, I thought I’d make a couple of sample blocks—just to get started. Before I knew it, the hour was quite late, and I had made blocks from all of the T-shirts. I still need to finalize the placement of the blocks, but it was such fun to revisit the shirts one more time, and I feel pretty good knowing that I am giving my son some cherished memories while he snuggles with his quilt this winter.
In many ways I wish I had made T-shirt quilts when my boys left for college. I guess time has its place. What a great idea to send them off to school with pieces from the past and a symbol of comfort from home.
Perhaps you are a collector of T-shirts too. Here are a few resources from Quiltmaker that might help you make a T-shirt quilt.
Let us know about the T-shirt quilts you have made or share some ideas for a quilt you’d like to make.