Thanks for dropping by to take a look at some of my thoughts and ideals. Hope you will let me know if this has been helpful, useful, inspiring or whatever, and remember to come back soon.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

T-Shirt Travels

Notice these tees have been aligned in long rows
(Quilt made by Kay for her daughter, Heather)

T-shirt quilts are wonderful things that hold personal memories galore.  They are loved and appreciated by all who receive them.  They are totally unique.  Usually they usually will evenutally wind up as a display item.  Many are made for young people as they graduate from high school and they get a quilt to take with them to college so it has to be the size of the college dorm bed, which is twin long in most colleges.  After college they will get tossed around some but as time moves on they will become a display piece, either in a bedroom, a guest room, or a home office or even a den or play room.  Now anyone can go online and find a multitude of places that make the quilts for a variety of prices, but being quilters, why should we pay for something we can do ourselves?  Obviously there is no reason if you can get some good instructions on how to accomplish your goal.  Me, I'm really an individual and like unique items, so I'm going for a really cool one of a kind quilt that no one else will have.  I've used many different views in creating some of these "masterpieces" and learned a lot along the way.  Here are some of my ideals and some of the things I've experienced in my t-shirt travels.

Cutting is important.  They must be cut using straight lines and the shirt should be laid out on the cutting board being careful not to stretch the fabric in any direction.  If the shirt has a print on only one side you are good to go, if you plan to use the prints from both sides then first you must carefully cut up both sides of the tee and right on around the bottom seam of the sleeve.  If there is an emblem on the sleeve you want to save then carefully cut around the seam in the sleeve leaving as much fabric as possible to be trimmed away.  I say this for a reason!!!  You want to be able to have pieces that are squares or rectangles.  While you can use triangles it is more difficult and you may not want to do this on your first t-shirt quilt.  After your shirt with the print is positioned on the cutting board, using a square up ruler of some type, cut out the design leaving, if at all possible 2-3" on all sides of the imprint.  This becomes very important later on in the process.  Many quilt makers will decide they are going to use 12 blocks that are 12 1/2" square with sashing between.  If that is your choice then cut your design out of your tee in a 14-15" square trying to center the logo or design as much as possible.  Others may want to make vertical or horizontal rows with sashing between the tees and between the rows.  If you have opted for that course then you will need to carefully watch the length or the width of the pieces you are cutting out.  If you have left some margin for error on your first cut then you will be okay.

After you have cut your tees up then you want to apply either a woven or nonwoven interface to the back to prevent stretching of the fabric as you sew or quilt.  I typically like the woven, iron-on the best for this step.  Be very careful here or you will wind up with some tees that the emblems are smeared or an iron that is no longer useable.  Use a pressing cloth.  Clean white and cheap fits the bill.  If you opt to lay the tee with the emblem facing down on your ironing board and try putting the interfacing on like that you will wind up with ink on your ironing board that will come off on everything you iron unless it wouldn't hurt that item and then miracle of miracles the ink won't transfer!!  I personally prefer to lay my interface with the beaded glue facing up on the ironing board and then lay the section of tee face up on the fusable, place my pressing cloth over that and press the tee only getting as close to the edge as possible without adhereing my pressing cloth to the fusable.    I then line up the next tee as close to the first as possible and sometimes even overlap about 1/4" to have no portion of the fusable uncovered.  I attempt to use as much of the width of the interfacing as possible moving and adjusting pieces to have the smallest amount left to trim away.  Again cover with pressing cloth and adhere to fusable. 

After I have all the tees with fusable I then start trimming.  I attempt to do rows either vertically or horizonally.  I will trim away as little of the excess as possible and start laying out the sizes.  I attempt to cut all widths on the even inch, like 13", 8", 10", 11" and the same with the lengths and then start putting my puzzle together.  If you have only 12 or 16 shirts to work with you are going to have a lot of space without logo's typically.  If you have a larger number of shirts then you will be able to use all the smaller logos to fill in gaps.  Maybe I have one tee with a logo that is 12" x 16" and I want to leave plenty for seams so it is cut at 15" x 20" and then I have a tee with a logo that is 10 1/2" x 3 " and a third tee with a logo  11" x 8".  I can use all of these logos in one row by placing the logo with 11" x 8" and leaving a little extra on each side of the logo to make up the difference or by sewing a strip of sashing and adding an extra 3" on one side.

With the shorter logos you can use 2 or 3 in the space of 1 longer logo.

Next I use the 12" x 16" logo with the extra inch on each side and next in that column would be the 10 1/2" x 3" logo that I have either cut to proper width or added sashing to maybe each side to make it 14" in width.  Now I have the 3 tees that are the proper width I can join them with sashing between and I frequently use different widths on my sashing.  Maybe I'll use 2" between the 1st shirt in the column and 1" between the 2nd and third shirts.  Maybe I have a couple of shirts with very small logos and then I may sew 2 side by side in order to get the width I need and I may even need to use a strip of sashing between them to get the proper width.

Kay did a great job of putting the small logos in the quilt.

I may even need to add a little sashing at the top or bottom of one of those logos.  Does this sound like a puzzle being pieced together?  That is really what it is like.  I really like to lay out all my shirts in a pattern, usually on my bed to get some ideal of how everything will fit and then I go from there with my adding of sashing.  I also use those pictures to refer to as I am sewing the top together.

After the top is sewn together and you start quilting be aware that very few machines will have the capacity to quilt over the thick heavy plastic type ink such as that used in numbers on jerseys, or the very thick ink, and you will wear holes in your fingers trying to hand quilt that particular type tee.  It is much easier to quilt around those areas.

Hope these hints help you as you begin a journey toward making your own tee shirt quilt, or one for your son or daughter.  Just remember to save those tees so you will have lots of choices.  If you have any questions about techniques I have written about, please feel free to ask.  I really don't have a problem sharing the few things I have learned along my travels.  Have a great day and remember, you are a very special person.

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