August 29, 2011

Quilting Time

 Making a T-shirt Quilt (in steps):
  1. Cut out t-shirts using a cardboard rectangle as a pattern (mine was 13" X 17")
  2. Line back of each t-shirt rectangle with interfacing
  3. Lay out pattern you want for quilt out of t-shirt rectangles (I had enough for a oversize queen)
  4. Pin together columns of t-shirt rectangles and sew (1/2 -1" seam allowance)
  5. Pin together columns and sew to create your quilt top
  6. Find a piece of fabric large enough to cover back of quilt or made quilt double-sided
  7. Putting right sides of quilt and back fabric together, place batting on top of quilt side
  8. Sew around entire piece leaving 2 1/2 feet opening at bottom of quilt
  9. Turn quilt right side out, using hold at bottom of quilt
  10. Pin and topstitch around entire quilt (I used a 1/4" seam allowance)
  11. Sew across top and sides of each t-shirt rectangle to finish OR outline each design on t-shirt rectangle OR both OR tie each corned or t-shirt rectangle in place using yarn, etc. (It is really up to you how you want to finish it as each way will yield a different look.)
  12. Put on a bed and showcase your t-shirt memories!
 Making a t-shirt quilt (in words)
        So my latest project has been a t-shirt quilt for my brother. It is made out of his t-shirts from high school and college. Starting on this quilt about 6 months ago didn't seem so bad. I watched Glee episodes as I cut out the front and backs of his t-shirts using a 13" X 17" pattern I made using a cardboard box. Once I finally finished cutting them all out (and a word to the wise here, jersey knit is REALLY difficult to cut without stretching it or cutting a jagged line on accident) I was ready to start assembling the quilt together.
      Since I have never quilted before myself (both of my grandmothers were really into sewing and I think both did various types of quilting at some point or other), I was at a loss. Both of my grandmother's passed away, so I couldn't ask them for help; therefore, I went to the internet with my questions. In principle, it seemed an easy task to create columns of t-shirts and then to sew those columns together to form the top of the quilt. This seems to be a trend in this project for sure: thinking something will be easy only to realize it is not going to be a fun time at all. Just as jersey knit was difficult to cut, it was also a difficult material to sew on. I decided to add interfacing to the back of each piece of t-shirt panel (read: 2 times the amount of cutting results in one t-shirt panel). After cutting all those pieces out, I ironed them to the t-shirts to give them more stability when I got to the sewing part.
Quilt Squares, laid out in pattern
      The next step was to lay out all the pieces into the pattern I wanted. Problem was, it was for my brother and he lives too far away to come out for a quilting pattern design session. So the project was put on hold until the holiday season rolled around.... fast forward to two months ago. My brother had laid it out chronologically and I rearranged each column just a bit so that there would be a horizontal stair-step pattern leading up from left to right of his red "Baker Beer Bike" shirts (he went to Rice University in Houston, TX- I'll let you guess which house/college he was in). Finally, I was ready to get this sewing party started. Woohooo!
3 layers pinned together 
      My enthusiasm waned quickly, however, as I realize what fun sewing a king sized quilt on a home sized machine and tiny space would be. The columns went together quickly - I used a 1" seam allowance, which was kind of large, but hey. Next was lining the columns up to complete the top part of the quilt; the last couple were the hardest because, again, small machine and working space with a biiiiggggg project made it difficult. Then I pressed the quilt top on a flat surface (my parents' bed) and handstitched any uneven folds of the quilt to make it lay flat.
Used a chalk line to get a straight edge
         The next job was finding the batting (or fluff) to go inside the quilt as well as figure out what kind of material I needed to form the back/bottom piece of the quilt. I decided a king size flat sheet would work best, but lo and behold no store sells single sheets anymore. Okay, Dillards sells Ralph Lauren only and Bed Bath and Beyond sells a limited variety. So, I went with BB&B and got a king sized black sheet. The upside was that it was a single piece of fabric and needed no extra sewing; the downside was that it was kind of pricey for a single sheet and I felt bad trimming the corners of a brand new sheet.
Turning it right side out
         I prewashed it a couple of times in the washer and it was ready to go; I laid out the quilt and sheet, putting right (pretty) sides together and two layers of thin batting on top of the quilt side (next time I would go with one medium thickness instead of two thin- eh, live and learn). Then I sewed around the entire quilt, leaving a small gap in the bottom so I could turn the quilt right side out. That being said, I flipped it around, smoothed it out, pinned it in place, and then top-stitched around the entire quilt. It looks finished now, but I still have to figure out a way to tie it in place/create channels so it all stays together and the batting doesn't go all haywire.
          I realize this is a sickeningly long post, but this was a sickeningly long process, so it makes sense. There were a ton of mis-steps and errors that I had to correct as I went, but I learned a lot and know when I make my t-shirt quilt next, I will know a ton more and the process will go much faster. Hopefully. So, if you decide to try this project on for size, I would say estimate 3 times the amount of time you think it will take, but also know that you should be happy that all the hard work you put into it has paid off and now you have a beautiful, homeade and recycled quilt.

No comments:

Post a Comment