Lee's T-shirt Quilt

I really enjoy making quilts from people's cherished and well loved clothing. In March I finished a family's memory quilt using baby clothes, and today I want to show you one made from concert t-shirts.

Lee's Quilt. A well-spent young adulthood listening to some hard rock bands.

If you've never made a t-shirt quilt before, here's how I made this quilt...

Cutting up the shirts

First I rough cut the shirts to remove the seams and sleeves. If there are images or logos on the sleeve, I save them for later. Then I cut fusible lightweight interfacing the width of each t-shirt and press it onto the back of the image ..this is the longest and most boring step so I either binge watch Netflix or haul my stuff to quilting group so there's lots of people to talk to :)

I cut the images on the shirt into whatever sizes looks good. I don't worry about the math! OK, so I do have a few numbers that I try to use for framing the pictures: 6,8,12 or 15 inches for a width and the lengths are usually 12 or 15 inches. If one particular shirt can only be cut at 14 inches, that's what I cut it to.

After cutting the images, there is always some extra at the bottom so I cut that into strips that I will piece for the back. I leave the back of the t-shirts uncut for now.

Initial layout of the printed t-shirt blocks

After moving all my furniture out of the way and washing the floor (a necessary step!), I layout the printed t-shirt blocks on the floor. I try to balance colours over the quilt, and keep intricate designs separated so your eye doesn't get stuck on one area. If the quilt needs any solid coloured blocks, I can cut them and add them now. I also begin adding strips here and there to make all the sections fit together better.

Sewing the blocks together during a power outage

This quilt was really fun to put together. Improv piecing is very liberating in that as long as you have similar lengths on adjacent blocks of fabric, you sew them together. If one piece is short, add a strip or another set of blocks to build it out. I use up a lot of the leftover bits from cutting the printed blocks first, then cut what I need from the t-shirt backs.

You might notice not all the blocks are square! On the right side is a wine coloured t-shirt that I cut to include part of the neckline. I had to turn under the cut edge then top-stitch this onto the "Tool" block beside it.

Lee's Quilt

We've had some crazy windstorms the past month here in Northern Ontario, and I assembled this quilt top in an afternoon on my antique hand crank machine. If all the blocks had been the same dimensions, it would have been faster, but I really like this look better :)

Reverse side, stripes with one more printed block

The back of the quilt is strips of t-shirt from all the backs of the shirts. I had one leftover block that wouldn't fit on the front layout, so I added it to the bottom corner. There are more than one width of strip on the back, but most of them were cut at 3.5 inches because that's the measurement that got the largest strip from each shirt with the least waste. To make each stripe, I randomly sewed the cut 3.5 width strips end to end making 4 super long strips.

There are several ways this quilt could have been assembled, but I chose a Quilt-as-You-Go method where you spray baste the top to the batting, then sew diagonal stripes from the top left to lower right corners. I laid the first strip corner to corner, and the second strip face down on top and stitched the seam. Fold open this seam, then lay the next row face down and sew it along the seam allowance. I did all this sewing on the hand crank as well because I liked the look of the stitching, but it is quite hard on the triceps and shoulder muscles to spin the crank for a prolonged time! Or maybe I need more machine time :) it's working muscles, so that's exercise, right?

I delivered this quilt to its new owner earlier this month, and I have since received this email.

"I just want to thank you so much for my husbands beautiful quilt we both love it so so much! Thank you"

And that is the best reason to make a quilt! If you like this quilt, please share this post! Thanks :)

I'm linking up with lots of friends this week, so stop by their sites to see more great works of quilty goodness! Finished or not Friday, TGIFF, Can I get a Whoop, Let's Bee Social.

Visit crafTraditions's profile on Pinterest.

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