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Saturday, September 1, 2012

More T-Shirt Quilts

Photo: Wednesday morning humor...I've always wondered where the socks went!

Well I have been at the T-shirts again gals.  I just wanted to go through some of the process I go through for making these wonderful quilts that are so very full of memories, but first just wanted to share a little cartoon!  Some people will make quilts out of anything!

I am one of those people I guess.  I frequently repurpose items in my house to use them for other things.  This particular cartoon reminds me of a lady where I used to work.  She took their old socks that had the elastic stretched out of the top.  You know the kind that won't stay up.....  She would take the scissors and cut them from the top to the toe so they were flatter and then used them for dishrags.  They actually made very nice dishrags.  Now they didn't look great, but they sure did feel good because they were thick enough and soft enough to have a really nice feel when you were washing dishes in hot soapy water.  Of course today almost everyone has a dishwasher so they don't even know about the feel of a good dishrag.  Oh well, times change and we must go with the flow or be left behind!

I attempted to make a pictorial journal of the t-shirt quilt so I'm going to go ahead and post the pictures and put in the captions then I'll let you know at the end what I forgot to do!

The very first step of course is "harvesting" the portion of the tee shirt that you want to use.  Typically the logo.  Some shirts will have a logo on the front, some of the back, some on the sleeve and some will have them all 3 places and some will just have a small one on a front pocket!  When I start cutting the shirts I typically want to cut up the side seam and down the sleeve seam and you can do this on both sides to make the shirt lay flat on your cutting board.  I want to have some extra fabric along with the logo so I can "square up" the logo so I always make sure I have as wide an allowance as possible to allow me freedom in sizing and squaring.  If I can cut a 4" border around the logo that's okay.  Another thing I like to do is make sure that I cut all of the tee shirt pieces on even numbers.  The square I have cut may be 4" x 10" or 12" x 8".  They will not be 4 1/2" x 10 1/4".  They are doable like that, but it sure it a lot more headache trying to figure out the measurements!

Step 2 is to lay out the logos in the way you think you will use them on the quilt.  I typically do the layout on my bed and then will snap a few pictures after I am satisfied with the placement so I don't forget what I had in mind.

This picture is a little hard to see because I am standing to the side but this is how I lay out my harvested squares to get some ideal of how the final quilt will look.

Step 3 is measure and measure and measure!  How wide do you want the finished product?  Do you plan to put the pieces together in strips across the width of the quilt or top to bottom of the quilt?  If you are doing strips running from the top to the bottom then you want the logos you have cut out to be near the same width.  It is not likely they will be the same width exactly so you must plan to add a little fabric to some of the sides to get them all the same width but that addition is a few steps away.

Step 4 is apply the nonwoven interfacing to the back of the tee shirt material!  This will prevent stretching while you are trying to sew the fabric.  As you can see from this picture I try to use every speck of my interfacing and will line up the logos as accurately as possible.  On this piece which I cut next to the selvedge you can just see the selvedge above the logo.  This will be trimmed again for the final block!

Step 5 is once again squaring up the block.  I love using my Salem Rule for this that opens at a 45 degree angle making for perfect corners!


Step 6 is starting the process of making the quilt squares of a like size.  This particular shirt I added a strip up the right hand side fo the logo.  These strips will be of varying widths and when I am doing this I don't really want everything to line up exactly so I will swap around and the next shirt may have the strip on the opposite side.
Now as I said the next shirt has the strip on the opposite side and this strip had to be much larger for them to be the same width.
Now whether you are putting your strips together top to bottom or side to side you will need to know the finished size of the quilt you are wanting to make.  Once I have all the logos stripped up into the correct length or width (according to which way I am laying out the pattern), I need to add in the strips from one block to the next.  First I must add up all the lenght of each of the pieces in that strip.  Second I have to subtract that number from the length I want the quilt ( if I am making strips running from top to bottom).  So I have 5 logos in a strip.  1 is 16" 2 are 14" 1 is 10" and the other is 18".  This is length only and equals 72"  My finished quilt will be 96" and I want to use a finished 5" border around the outside, therefore my quilt needs to measure 86" finished and I have 72" unfinished so I need to add an extra 14" into the quilt in addition to the seam allowances. So my finished inner portion of the quilt will need to be 86 1/2" unfinished, so I will add this extra 1/2" to what I need.  14 1/2" and there will be a square, strip, square, strip, square, strip, square, strip, square.
5 squares and 4 strips and those 4 strips need to total 14 1/2".  So if I use 4" strips between 3 of the strips that will be 12" and then another strip at 2 1/2" that will give me my 14 1/2" in 4 strips.  That works!!!  Oh, lets add the seam allowances now to those strips so we don't mess up here.  Each seam will decrease the length by 1/2" if I am using 1/4" seams.  I will have seams at the top and bottom of each strip and there are 4 strips so I am talking about adding an extra 1" to the width of each strip.  The finished product will be a 5" finished border (cut 5 1/2" unfinished) a 15 1/2" finished square, a strip finished at 4" (cut at 4 1/2")  1 finished 13 1/2" finished square, a strip finished at 4", 2nd 13 1/2" finished square, a strip finished at 4",  a finished 9 1/2" square, a strip finished at 2 1/2" (cut at 3"), a finished 17 1/2" square and the bottom 5" finished border making a total of 94".
Use the same formula to figure you width measurements but for twin beds you will likely have on 3 strips of tee shirt lengths so you will have the 2 outer 5" finished borders and 2 strips inside the quilt making it border, tee-shirt strip, fabric strip, tee-shirt strip, fabric strip, tee-shirt strip and border.  For a regular size quilt you will perhaps have 4 tee-shirt length strips and 3 fabric strips plus borders and so forth for larger sized quilts.
The thing I failed to do was make a picture of the finished quilt before I delivered it and it now resides on the college bed of a student at Boston College!
This is actually the easiest way I have found of making the T-Shirt Quilts.  If you have a easier way I would certainly like to hear about it!  This was is easy enough for me that I can finish a top in about  7-9 hours depending on the size and then it is just quilting and binding.  What takes me the longest is actually the cutting the tee-shirts and getting the interfacing on them.  After that it is easy peesy! 
Best of luck to all of you who are going to try this.  If you run into any problems just let me know and maybe I'll be able to help you.  Happy quilting.



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