Tuesday, August 16, 2011

T-Shirt Quilt Tutorial Part 1

Hannah and I have been working on a super fun project. Her roommate, Katie, asked Hannah to create a t-shirt quilt for her out of her old, favorite t-shirts. Hannah graciously said "yes", and then said, "Mom, can you help?"

I have never made a t-shirt quilt before, but I have helped a friend make one, and have read lots about it. Add that to my years of quilting and sewing experience, and off we went to the fabric store!

Step 1: Hannah selected a very cute limey green with multicolor dots for the borders (you will see this in a later post), and some iron-on Easy Knit to back/stabilize the shirts. Hannah decided that, after stabilizing, we would then cut out the cute parts of the shirts, not trying to make them all the same size at all, but rather all different sizes.

I figured we would use the green dots for the in-between fabric, to make it all fit, but Hannah had her own idea - and it was an excellent idea!

Step 2: First, we rough cut (with scissors) sections out of each shirt, bigger than the final block sizes. We used the front and back of some shirts, as per Katie's request. Then, we ironed stabilizer onto the back of the cut sections, and finally used rotary cutter and rulers to cut the final blocks out of the shirt pieces.

Step 3: Then, to get a pleasing arrangement, we laid all of our cut shapes on Hannah's bed, which helped in two ways. We could play around with colors and shapes until we liked it, and it would fit, and also we could see if the overall size was right. We originally thought we would be making a two-sided quilt, as Katie gave us lots of shirts! But we ended up with a full/queen size with only the top pieced from shirts. Hannah photographed the finished* arrangement with her phone. We needed fabric to sew between some of the blocks, to make it all fit. Hannah wanted to use all different fabrics from my scraps and stash. We never repeated a fabric, and just sort of designed as we went along.

Step 4: My design wall was so helpful!!! After putting all of the blocks up on the wall, using our photograph as a guide, we started at the center, and built a vertical strip up and down from the penguin (not pictured, sorry you'll see him below). As we worked, section by section, we would pin up hunks of scrap fabric to audition for the sashing pieces. We thought we had a final arrangment (see * above!), but we ended up moving blocks around on the design wall as needed. We would sew blocks and strips together until we liked it, pressing as we went along.

TIP: Use a press cloth! Even with a press cloth, my iron still got pretty gunked up. But that's what iron cleaner is for, right? Also, we did sort of ruin one of Katie's home-made iron-on shirts...but she was ok with that (thankfully!).

Above shows the lower left section, after most of its scrappy fabric had been added.

Step 5: After sewing the center strip together, we started joining the other parts together in sections, thinking through the math and the sewing as we went along. There were only a few times when we both had to stop and say, wait a minute, how is this going to go together?

I LOVE Hannah's design, using odd shaped-cutouts from the shirts. It gives each piece its own identity much better than cutting out squares, all the same size. And I also love the use of scraps, but that's no surprise - scrap quilts are my favorite!

Stay tuned for the next part of our tutorial!

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