Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Stephen's T-Shirt Quilt

Over a year ago I had a phone conversation with my friend Diane who told me that she had recently heard about a T-shirt quilt.  One of her co-workers was going to put her in touch with someone who could make one for her with her son Steve's sports T's.  He played sports in school from 1st grade through high school and beyond.  After looking into it she was surprised at how expensive it was going to be but she still wanted to do it.

As the conversation went on I remind her that, seeing's how I'm a quilter, and seeing's how we're friends, I would be happy to do it for her - for nothing.  She was surprised and happy all at the same time.  She happily agreed and still insists that she wants to pay me but I insist on doing it for the fun of it.  ;-)

So began the T-shirt quilt adventure.  Stephen's T-shirts have been sitting in a basket in my sewing room since just after we had that conversation. 

Notice I said that this was "over a year ago" that we had talked about it?  Yeah, well, fortunately she wasn't in a hurry cuz I'm a slow poke!

Here's the basket of 17 "whole" shirts about to be clipped.
After searching the Internet, and reading though a book I bought on T-shirt quilts and several consultations with my favorite quilting buddy (my sister Dutchy), I dove in. 

The process goes like this:

Dig up all those old T-shirts you just couldn't part with and get the washed.  Find a design you like.  Well, some people would start with a design in mind but I'm going to see where all these colors and numbers take me.  I love a surprise don't you!

Next cut the design out leaving as much fabric as you can so you'll be able to cut them to size later.  These were some of the smaller shapes I cut.  For most of these shirts there were designs on the front and numbers on the back.  I'm certain the numbers are going to be fun to work with.
The team names are mostly long and narrow like the St. Matthews above. 
You can discard the necks, sleeves, and other scraps.  Well, in my case, I'll hold on to them until I get a better feel for my final layout.

Necks, plackets, sleeves and hems, Oh My!
After figure out the largest of the designs on the shirts I cut them down to a size about 2 and a 1/2 inches larger than the that.  So in this case the biggest designs were around 10 inches.  I used my 12 inch square and a ruler together to come up with a 12 1/2 in square. 

This gives me enough space to iron on the stabilizer without getting the glue on my iron or ironing board.   It's still only a rough cut and they will be trimmed again later before sewing.

I cut the stabilizer into 12 inch squares and iron it onto the back of each shirt square.  One other tip for the stabilizer, I used a non-stick and heat resistant pressing sheet to keep the T-shirt designs from sticking to my ironing board.  

For stabilizer I'm using Pellon JAS Fusible Interfacing (# P44F) that I bought by the yard at Joann's for $0.99 a yard with a coupon!  It was so cheap I bought 7 yards which means I'll have plenty left over for when I start that concert T-shirt quilt.  Don't use "feather weight" stabilizer, it's too flimsy.

That notch is where the placket was and has definitely
been a factor in cutting out the designs.
I was so proud of my self for getting the shirts all ready to start my design!  Then I remembered that Diane had said she has one or two more shirts that she thought would be good to use.  Problem was Steve's still wearing them!!  I texted her to see if she had gotten hold of Steve to get permission to use them.  Here's how the texting went:

Debby:  Do you have any more T-shirts for Stephen's quilt? Some from high school?
Diane:  I will look.  Hang on before cutting them up if haven't already.
Debby:  OH NO!  Too late!  I starting cutting them up on Sunday! I wanted to surprise you :-(
Next was the sound of my phone ringing.  It was Diane.  I was near tears and she was laughing.  Turns out she thought I didn't have enough shirts and was fine that they were all cut up.  PHEW!  Crisis averted.

Anyway, I have been wanting to make a T-shirt quilt for a long time. I've had my eye on several boxes (!) of concert T-shirts dating from the early 1970's (Rod Stewart) through my most recent outing in 2012 (Madonna). 

Alas, I can't get the professed "co-owner" of the concert shirts to let me have my way with them. They're mine but many were purchased by him, for me, and he (unlike Diane) is adamant about NOT cutting them up. He's softening a bit as the years go by but . . .  I'm leaving that battle for another day and moving on to make a T-shirt quilt for Diane/Steve.


Crystal said...

Would you happen to have the instructions for the Pellon P44F? I got some today but there were no instructions. I figured I'd just look on the Pellon site but that hasn't worked out too well for me. Anyway, did yours come with instructions? And if so, would you mind sharing?

Debby said...

Hi Crystal, I don't have the actual instructions but here's how I do it. Set your iron to the highest heat setting with NO STEAM. Place the fuseable with the rough glue side down onto the BACK of the T-Shirt. Don't let the fuseable go beyond the edge of the T-shirt or you'll end up with glue on your ironing board. Press and hold your iron for a count of 10 then lift the iron and place it in another location. I usually try to overlap the iron placement so that there's no gaps.