Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Making Quilts Out of Clothes

It was a little bit hot and a little bit slow at the Sunday Morning Market this past Sunday but still tons and tons of fun.  I mean really:  what could be more fun than Talking About Quilts All Day Long?

A recurring theme of conversation with customers was Making Quilts Out of Clothes.  One customer noted that her parents were still alive but asked if I would be interested in making a quilt out of their clothes after their passing.  (Whether their passing is an upcoming event in the near future or not is still in question).  Instantly I'm imagining a big bag full of Mom's rayon house coats and Dad's poison green, double-knit plaid polyester golf pants.  Maybe a few shirts from the annual Shuffleboard Tournament thrown in as well.   So I responded that it sounded like an interesting project, what else could I say?

I will say that I've seen some REALLY beautiful quilts made out of men's striped cotton dress shirts.  You just cut them into squares or rectangles, and the pattern emerges according to how you arrange the direction of the stripes.   That's an upcycled clothing project I'd love to try one day!

But Sunday did deliver A Revelation.  Ever since I started doing markets, quite a few people at each market have asked me if I make T shirt quilts.  I've always said no, since I've never done it before, or ever really thought about it before.

The Revelation:  It's time to start thinking about it.

I mean this is starting to feel like a wasted opportunity.  This could be a great way to supplement and grow my business.  I could offer this to my customers at the Market, Facebook friends and fans, that sort of thing.  I would probably not offer it in my Etsy store for the time being, as I would still like the focus of my quilting to be on My Quilts and the other projects.  

9 Shirt T-Shirt Quilts
This is NOT my quilt!
One of the reasons  I haven't been attracted to this project before is because most of the T shirt quilts currently available look a lot like this one, currently for sale on Etsy.

Now, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS QUILT, so please don't let me offend you.  But honestly, I'm not seeing the fun in making something like this to sell.

So if I'm going to do this, it needs to be a little fresher, a little more spontaneous, a little more fun.  A little more QV (Quilting Violinist)

Well, I need to learn this process, and I'll need a Sample Quilt to bring to Market.  Yesterday I pulled out some of my old t shirts, and went to Joann's and picked up some fusible interfacing.
You need to use interfacing so the t shirt material won't stretch when you sew the blocks together.

This is Pellon 906F.  I had a 50% off coupon, so I bought a bolt of it.  It's very lightweight and has a nice silky feel to it.

The directions say to iron it to the backside of your fabric using a damp cloth, but I found my Teflon pressing sheet worked better and I could see through it.

I won't get into specific instructions here, if you Google "T Shirt Quilt Instructions" there are all sorts of tutorials available.

I'm thinking as far as pricing these goes, the quilts could be just priced per block.  So I think the trick is to have a standard size block, but vary the blocks to make it more fun and interesting.
I've only just started this project, but this is what I have so far:

Here's a 14" block with the interfacing already ironed to the back.


Break out the rotary cutter!

Insert some fabric strips.  Press the seams open after sewing to reduce bulk.

Resize using MY NEW TOTALLY AWESOME 20" OMNIGRID RULER.  Is that thing great or what?  I didn't even know there were rulers that big (or expensive!  That's another item you definitely want to have a coupon for, but it's absolutely fantastic for large squares like this.)

Sew on some random sized borders.  I didn't worry about how wide they were, as this all gets trimmed down.  I used my regular piecing foot for this but a walking foot might be a good choice as well.

This practice block was trimmed to 16".  I figure I can always trim them smaller if I want.

Now THIS is a little closer to what I think a T shirt quilt should look like.

  On to the next block!  I'll post progress reports as I go along.


  1. What a great idea to add some fabric to the actual shirt. I am anxious to see what more you do.


  3. I like your version way better. No boring squares for you!