Wednesday, May 13, 2015
a t shirt quilt for Brendan, or how to spend almost the entire night sewing to meet a self-imposed deadline
My brother recently moved out of my parents' house and I wanted to do something to help spruce up his new apartment, and of course, being a quilter, the first idea that came to mind was to make him a quilt. But, with all the baby quilts I'm making over the next couple of months, I didn't think a larger quilt would be possible for a while and I wanted to make something soon. Then I had the brilliant idea of making him a t shirt quilt. Normally I would do anything to avoid making a t shirt quilt because I think they're ugly and I don't like working with knits, but my brother is a hoarder and could stand to part with some shirts, specifically the ones he's been saving (and wearing!) since, oh, elementary school. So I figured this would be a way to help him clean out his closet and provide him with a little apartment warming gift, both figuratively and literally. He gave me a giant stack of shirts a few weeks ago and they sat in a pile while I finished up some other projects at the sewing machine. His birthday was last weekend so I thought it would be nice to finish it up in time to give to him then. It was Saturday, the night before his birthday, and I don't know what got into me but I decided to I was going to have the quilt done on time! I had about fifteen hours to complete it, and that was if I stayed up all night which, for my own health and sanity, I knew I should not do. So at about 6:00 pm I took the boys outside to play in the backyard and I brought my cutting mat, ruler, and rotary cutter out onto the patio table. I cut into the shirts outside for about an hour and then took a break to bring the boys in so they could eat a quick dinner, take a bath, and get to bed. They were asleep by 8:30 so I continued cutting and worked on the layout on the dining room floor as I cut.
Once I was done cutting I started piecing the quilt top, joining sections together until I only had a few places that had partial seams. I was psyched to be able to finish it up, and after it was done I trimmed a twin size fleece blanket to the right size and sandwiched the two pieces right sides together, but Finn woke up so I decided to call it a night, hoping I would have enough time to finish before church in the morning. It was 3:00 am at this point so I really couldn't stay up much longer anyway! Like I said earlier, I really don't know what go into me. It's over a week later and I think I'm still paying for that late night! Anyway, I went to bed and prayed the boys didn't wake up too early. I slept like a rock! I don't think it was until around 8:00 that we all woke up, and back to the sewing machine I went. I stitched along the edges, leaving an opening for turning (so it's not a true quilt as there is no batting or binding), and then I stitched along the edge of the quilt to finish it, closing the opening as well. I didn't even trim the loose threads! I just stuffed it into a gift bag, got us all dressed, and handed the boys granola bars as I hurried them into the car so we wouldn't be late for church. We made it there with ten minutes to spare!
After church we headed to my brother's apartment where we all had lunch together, and Ezra gave him the quilt. His words were, "This looks even better than I thought it would!" Ha! I'll take it :) I think it took me about eight hours in total. I always try to keep track of the time it takes me to make things but with all the interruptions (child care, bathroom breaks, chocolate chip cookie breaks, etc.) I tend to forget to do it. Making this blanket in such a short span of time cut down on that so it was pretty easy to keep track! Now hopefully I won't have to make another t shirt quilt in my life, but if I do I know it won't take me too long ;)
If anyone is interested in making a t shirt quilt with a layout like this, you simply cut everything to be divisible by any one dimension (the sides of my "blocks" are all divisible by four - 4x4, 4x8, 4x16, 8x8, 8x12, etc.) and then fit all the pieces together like a puzzle. I like to save some t shirt scraps in case I need to fill in any gaps in the quilt top. I used a few sleeve pieces and some blank areas to fill this one out.