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T-Shirt Quilt posted: 1/19/2003
by Nicki Becker Printable Page
Category: Piecing Method: Machine
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Are your souvenir t-shirts taking over your closets, your shelves and your dressers and you cannot get rid of them because they all "mean something"? What to do?? What is the answer?? Well, of course, make a t-shirt quilt!

It is a funny thing about one's t-shirts, some you get, perhaps on a vacation because it seemed like such a good idea at the time, however you only wore it a couple of times and now it is sitting on a closet shelf but you cannot get rid of it because it brings back such pleasant memories of a good time. Or perhaps you have that favorite shirt that you have just worn to death, but again it was "so special" and "I just loved that shirt" that you cannot bear to send it to the "dust rag" drawer!

I started making t-shirt quilts after my youngest daughter graduated from college, an event in itself that was cause for great celebration...there finally was light at the end of that long college tuition tunnel!. She had accumulated a trunk full of party and school event t-shirts which was I believe very incriminating evidence of how she spent a good part of her time in college! In fairness, however she did graduate and now has a wonderful job! But she did have all those precious shirts and we needed to do something with them because they could NOT be thrown out, and because we quilters have pretty much a one-track mind, I thought of a quilt. I looked through all my quilting books and could not find anything about making a t-shirt quilt so since necessity is that great Mother of invention, I started experimenting and through a process of trial and error came up with a method that worked for me.

I discovered using a lightweight fusible interfacing stabilized the knit so that the motifs could be cut into blocks and then incorporated into a quilt. Sashing between the blocks helped to "set off" each motif. Some of the t-shirts motifs have all fallen into a 12" or 14" block size, and I was able to use a 2" sashing throughout the quilt however others have been such a variety of sizes that I have used sashing of various sizes to fill in smaller motifs. Because these are strictly "fun quilts" and the fact they have an interfacing I recommend machine quilting or tying.

The Race For The Cure quilt was made of t-shirts from 40 cities where the marathon had been run and was raffled off after the race in Houston one year with the proceeds going to Breast Cancer Research.

"Carolyn's Quilt" was made in memory of one of my daughter's roommates who was tragically killed in a hot air balloon accident.

"Steph's Quilt" was made for my sister as a memento of her years as a house mom at Iowa State College.

In a class held last year shortly after the tragic events of 9-11 one of my students had an incredible collection of NYFD (New York Fire Department) shirts her husband had collected and she was making them into a commemorative quilt for him.

The quilt I am working on right now is probably my favorite, because it is using my 2 little grandsons' shirts from birth to 4 years old.

So, you can see that t-shirt quilts can cover a very broad spectrum of special events and remembered people and times in your life.

One word of warning! Once you start making t-shirt quilts, be prepared to have all your friends and your children's friends begging you to make one for them, out of THEIR favorite shirts! Have Fun!

Nicki Becker

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