Playing catch-up, memory t-shirt quilt

My high school t-shirt quilt was the first thing I ever sewed for myself. It was a hot mess, and I learned a ton, but somehow it came together. From there, I made a quilt for my sister, and then sewed my college t-shirts into a quilt. After I felt like I really knew what I was doing, I offered up the service for my school’s Relay 4 Life silent auction. Business grew from there. Social media has helped me reach even more people, and that’s where I met the family for this quilt.

Almost 2 years ago, a mom reached out to my through my Sew Sassy Facebook page. Her daughter’s boyfriend recently passed away and she wanted to use his shirts to make a quilt. The mom had seen pictures of my work, but told me that the daughter had a lot of shirts she wanted incorporated into the blanket. The family was local to Atlanta, so I met up with them to get a better idea of their inspiration. Usually, I use squares out of t-shirts with fabric sashing between. When this family came to meet with me, I knew that my usual pattern wouldn’t work for this. She wanted everything incorporated. When I say everything, I mean everything. She had outfits of his, outfits of hers (that were worn in pictures they took together), concert shirts, music festival wristbands, and shirts from places they visited. Everything.

I was up for the challenge, and this family was beyond wonderful to work with. When the stuff arrived at my house the girl carefully marked things she wanted. I wish I was better about taking “before” pictures, but I think this is all I have. All shirts were marked with painters tape, with logos outlined, or notes stating how she wanted the garment used.

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I was still unsure how I was going to make it all come together, but went ahead and ironed the stabilizer on the back of the knit shirts. While I was ironing (and ironing, and ironing), I had the idea to create squares. Usually, I cut my t-shirts for quilts into 15″ squares. Since I had way too many shirts to do that, I would use multiple shirts to make up a 15″ square. Then, sew all my squares together for the finished quilt.

First, I cut the shirts so they were square (or rectangle). I had a whole box of stuff that I called “filler”, and decided to use those to fill in the gaps. Here you can see some of the shirts cut, and how I started to fill in to make squares.IMG_1305.jpg

Once I got that laid out I knew that this idea would work. I then started filling in the smaller pieces. Below you can see one of the wrist bands (bottom center square).

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Finally, I was ready to put all 30 squares tougher. In my “filler” bag were pieces that she asked for me to use as much as possible throughout the quilt, so I decided to make bands to run horizontally across the quilt between each of my rows. IMG_2352.jpg

I love how the bands turned out and really broke up the monotony of the squares. I was given a flat sheet in my box of shirts, and we decided to use that for the back of the quilt. Over 100 pieces were used to create this quilt. Finished, it fits a full/queen size bed. It’s the largest and most in-deapth project I’ve done thus far, and I LOVE how it all came together. I really hope this quilt is a source of comfort. It was an honor to be trusted with the memories.

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Footnote- I started this project at the end of May 2015. I worked on it throughout the summer, but it was difficult with Zac who was 3 and a half at the time. Once he went back to school in August, I started to kick it into gear. However, it was at that same time decided to list our house. Everything went into storage (our formal dining room was my “office”), but the house sold in a day and I got to get back to work quicker than expected. I’m not sure how it all got done, but it did. Super thankful for our new house and an office with a door to hide my mess.

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Tuesday Tutorial- bridesmaid dress quilt

A few years ago, I came across a pin on pinterest for a baby quilt used from a bridesmaid dress. Since then, I’ve made several of these blankets for customers and they’ve become one of my favorite projects to sew. The idea of making a quilt scares a lot of people, and I’m hoping this step by step tutorial eases your fears. If you can sew a straight line, then you can take on this project. I suggest investing in a cutting mat, a rotary cutter, straight edge, and a quilting ruler.

For the quilts I make, I usually pick out 4 fabrics that coordinate with the dress. My blankets measure anywhere from 36″ to 42″ square when completed, and if this is the size you desire, 1/4 of a yard is all you’ll need of each. IMG_8833

When you get your fabrics, iron and then cut to your desired size. For this quilt, I used a 6″ quilting ruler (which is actually 6.5″ square). To make my life easier, I cut my fabric in a 6.5″ strip, then used the quilting ruler to cut 5 equal sized squares. 
  

Repeat this with the remaining three fabrics.

When it comes to cutting the dress, don’t be afraid. Cut along the seams to give yourself large panels to work with. Do just like you did before and cut a 6.5″ strip and then use the quilting ruler to cut squares.

  

Once all of your squares are cut, lay them out in a design or pattern you think looks best. I always like the dress to be the middle square, and then I spread them out- always making sure each of the 5 patterns are represented in each row and column.

Now it’s time to sew! If you look behind my sewing machine in the picture, you can see how I have each of the rows laid out so they’re in order and ready.

Ta da!!! Once you have your five rows sewn together, iron the seams flat.

Now it’s time to sew your rows together to make into a blanket. I think this is the part that worries most first time quilters because with this type of blanket you want to make sure everything lines up. When I lay out two of the rows, I make sure that the seams line up exactly, then pin them in place. 
  

Once you’re pinned, it’s time to sew. Repeat this process with each remaining row. Then, just like before- iron your seams flat.
  

It’s up to you how fancy you want to get. I really like a border (or two) around the outside of my quilts. For this quilt, I used a double border and because the bridesmaid dress was long, I was able to use that too. For shorter dresses it’s not always possible to get strips of fabric long enough. For the first border on this dress, I used a grey fabric and cut it in 1.5″ strips. I sewed the strips along the sides, then across the top and bottom. Iron flat when you’re done.
  

Next up, I cut dress. I used 3″ strips for the outside.

Once your front is done, it’s time to attach the back. I used minky dot fleece for this quilt. This fabric sheds. A lot. It’s also sometimes almost slippery to work with. Use lots of pins and sew slowly. To attach the front to the back, lay your fleece down on floor, good side up.

Next, lay your quilt down so the “good” sides face one another. Cut off the salvage fleece at the top. Now, it’s time to pin. Make sure you leave yourself an opening, so that you can flip the quilt right side out.
  

When you’re done sewing, flip your quilt right side out. Iron your edge flat, and pin your hole closed. To give a finished look, I like to top stitch all the way around the quilt. Because you can see the thread, try your best to match the top thread to your top fabric, and your bobbin thread to your fleece.
  

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A Very Special Bridesmaid Dress Quilt

I met my best friend in February of 1986. My family just moved into our new house and Jaime knocked on our front door and asked (she loves this story BTW) “do you have a little girl my age I can play with?” The rest is history. My family moved from Ohio to Georgia in 1994 and our moms made sure we were still able to visit. She flew to Georgia to be in my wedding in 2005 and I was in Ohio when she married her husband 3 years later.
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I am over the moon excited for Jaime and her husband Mike as they’re expecting their first baby. I’ve known for over a year that when she got pregnant I was going to cut up my bridesmaid dress to make a quilt for her. I was so excited after seeing this idea on Pinterest that I actually bought the fabric before she was even pregnant. (Hi, my name is Melissa and I am a fabric hoarder…) I went neutral with greys and yellows, knowing that she wanted the gender to be a surprise. This quilt is different from a similar blanket I made last fall in that I used the satin material from the dress as slashing to go between the cotton fabric squares. I love how it turned out.

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Let the Wild Rumpus Start

It’s no secret that I seriously love the book, Where the Wild Things Are, so I was over the moon excited when an etsy customer asked me to create a custom quilt for her newborn’s nursery. Working together we chose 10 coordinating fabrics, and here it is!

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The quilt measures approximately 42″ by 48″. It’s backed with navy blue flannel and I used 100% cotton batting between the layers.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Quilt

Over the summer, I wrote about a special group of friends, The Darlings. This is a group of women that joined together as a birth board on Baby Center back in 2011, and we’ve stayed bonded as a group as our babies have grown into toddlers. This quilt was created using a onesie from each of our children, and the quilt is passed from woman to woman in times of need. These needs vary, but the quilt brings comfort to each recipient. Since my initial blog post, the quilt made it’s way to Savannah, then back to Atlanta, then north to Wisconsin, over to Indiana, and its now out west in Colorado. What is so special about the journey to Colorado is that two of our group members live there and you can see them photographed together at the end of this post. FYI, those fabulous ladies are both photographers. I feel the need to add that tidbit of information because when my husband saw those pictures he was in awe and said it looked like it was taken professionally, and in a way- it was.

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D.O.N.E. done!

I finished the quilt! With time to spare!!!!! As you know, I started on the binding yesterday morning, but because we went to IKEA, I didn’t have the oh-sew-important nap time to work (see what I did there? haha). Last night, after Zac went to bed, I curled up on the couch with my husband, a drink, the quilt, needle & thread, and got to work. 2 and a half hours and 3 beers later, I finished. I love this quilt, and while I know that my 2-year-old has no idea the time and energy that went into it, one day he will. For now, he can look and say “tuk! car! go!!!” and I’m OK with that.

The binding, while time consuming, was not as terrible as I anticipated. I stabbed myself repeatedly with the needle, and I now know why seamstresses wear thimbles on their thumbs, because pushing that needle through three layers of flannel was painful. The finished product though was worth the extra effort.

This quilt measures 41″ by 53″. I used 6 different flannel patterns for the blocks of the quilt, grey flannel for the sashing, aqua blue flannel for the back, and the yellow polka-dot flannel for the binding. The batting is 100% cotton. I had extra car fabric because I got 1 yard instead of the 1/2 yard I ordered (yippee), and because I’m me, I used that to make a pillow case to match.

Not sure if I’ll blog again before Christmas, so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I hope your holiday is filled with joy, and wish you all many blessings in the new year. 2013 was an amazing year for me and my business. I did over 200 sales on Etsy, made 15 quilts for customers (maybe more, I lost count), and purchased the embroidery machine. I am so excited about what’s in store for 2014, so stay tuned!

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Binding the quilt

Because of an impromptu trip to
Ikea to have lunch with my sister and parents, I didn’t finish the quilt today. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel though, and hopefully I can curl up on the couch with a beer after Zac goes to bed and knock this out.

This morning, I sewed the binding onto the front of the quilt, and I’ve begun hand stitching it to the back. Definitely more tedious that is anticipated.

Here are pictures of today’s progress.

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