Longarm Quilting, Quilting, T-shirt Quilt

Wearable Memories. Hug a Tee!

The best thing about writing a quilt focused blog is the ability to use the quilt as a metaphor. It works astoundingly well on all levels. Life is, after all, just a human-scale patchwork of experiences.

Any life story works. Seriously. Try it.

Passionate love story? Ah, the fevered search for the perfect fabric to complete that intricate pattern. Overcoming heartache? Definitely relates to that damaged quilt you repaired. Happy wedding or new baby? A fresh pattern connecting bright colors, fun prints, and unlikely shapes. Worrying about a sick friend? Making a comfort quilt is maybe the only thing you can do. Musing about the perfection of a sunny spring day? Reminds me of that new fabric line with all the bunnies.

I could go on and on. But I think, maybe, I’ve found the quilt that is the most complete metaphor for life.

The T-shirt quilt.

Yep, I said it. The T-shirt quilt.

You were, perhaps, expecting something old-fashioned like a Double Wedding Ring, or Joseph’s Coat, or a good-ol’ nine patch?

I get it, those are all pretty good stories. But for me, a T-shirt quilt is a personal time capsule. A patchwork collage of who someone is, or has been, up to this moment in time. It’s no wonder that T-shirts are so frequently our souvenirs of choice. They are reminders of attachment to a group or a person; reminders of places we’ve been; reminders of skills learned, competence earned. Just sliding an old WVU T-shirt over my head brings back the smell of the library, the solid feel of old wood floors under my feet, the warmth of someone special holding my hand as we walked through the crowded Coliseum. Ahhhh, those old T-shirts. Wearable memories. The perfect keepsake.

Which is why you gotta save those things!

All those memories, stuffed in a box or stacked on a shelf in your closet. Or worse – rotting away in your attic!

I know, you can’t fit into them anymore. I can’t fit into mine, either. 🙂 But I can quilt them into a blanket to snuggle under, like I did for a friend of mine recently.

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The collage/mosaic style was perfect for this quilt, which included a lot of theater performance t-shirts. An artistic style for an artistic bunch of tees from an artistic period of this person’s life.

There are other options, style-wise, of course. Many people like their tees cut into equal-size blocks (with or without sashing). For the quilter, it’s easier and faster to cut all the t-shirts to the same size. Then you can make nice, tidy rows and sew them up lickety-split.

Those quilts are nice. Beautiful, even. But my life isn’t like that. And I do insist that these quilts are metaphors.

Which is probably why the collage style is my favorite. It’s improv, just like life. You take all the memory pieces you have, big or small. You can’t leave out the small pieces just because they’re different. Time consuming. Don’t fit the standard size.

You just work them in, because memorable moments aren’t always big and splashy. Sometimes we are impacted the most in the small, quiet moments: the whisper of your child at bedtime, the soft swelling of a heart full of joy, the empty space of a lost love, the  friendly word exactly when you needed it most.

The moments pile up over time, overlapping, colliding, connecting, creating the patchwork landscape of a life. Big or small, they’re all important, all beautiful. All you.

Peace, Stacey


Do you have a pile of wearable memories (T-shirts, that is) at your house? Pile them in a box, ship them in, and I’ll make you a quilt to remember. Click here for more info.

 

 

6 thoughts on “Wearable Memories. Hug a Tee!”

  1. I really like how you have done this t-shirt quilt! I’ve seen several done but never one that seems to flow naturally. My daughter-in-law made on for my son with his t-shirts and it wasn’t soft and cuddly. I don’t have enough to make a quilt from; at least I don’t think I do. I may look again, I tend to embroider the shirts I want to wear. You have given me a lot of food for thought here. Great post. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Marlene! Thanks for the kind remarks. The T-shirt fabric was interesting. You’d think they would be super soft from all the wear, but they feel downright rough when compared to quilting cotton. They should soften up even more with washing, I suppose, like all other quilts. I loved the colors! Not a mix I’d usually work with, but so joyful!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Stacey,
    I am just making my first t-shirt quilt for a friend. The t-shirts were all different shapes and sizes, just like the life you mention and all the different parts of the world she went diving. This sure turned out lovely, and the quilting looks great. Do you use a batting between the layers? Just curious if that may make it too heavy – I don’t know. I’ve been debating that while working on it and still haven’t come up with an answer! ~smile~ Roseanne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Roseanne – Thanks for taking time to read and comment! I did use a batting between the layers. I used Hobbs Tuscany Polyester, which has a nice little bit of “poof” in the same way wool does but isn’t very heavy. It also shows off the quilting stitches better than flat cotton. But – the quilt top itself was pretty heavy, and I think it would have been even without batting, because I used June Tailor T-shirt interfacing to stabilize the shirts. It’s what I would call a medium weight interfacing…it works really well to prevent stretch but I could feel the extra weight of it in the unquilted top. I’m starting another tshirt quilt soon, this time for my daughter, and I’m going to try a couple of other fusible stabilizers that I’ve heard about: Pellon SF101 and some Heat n Bond Lite. Both are cheaper, and lighter weight. I’ve used the Heat n Bond before, but not with T-shirts, so we’ll see if it halts the stretch! What kind of interfacing do you use? I can’t wait to see your quilt!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Stacey – I used JT interfacing as well. I have some new liquid stuff called Terial Magic that I planned to try. But I was too chicken to try that as well as my first attempt at a t-shirt quilt all at once. So, I went tried and true. I met the woman that invented the TM liquid at a Nancy Zieman’s/Nancy’s Notion warehouse sale. It was very cool – the fabric got stiff enough to feed through a printer, and then washed out completely. Maybe for the next t-shirt quilt. I was thinking an 80/20 batting – that’s usually my go to for some reason. I thought I would post an update next week, but my friend doesn’t want to see it until its finished so June it is. Happy Mother’s Day tomorrow! ~smile~ Roseanne

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh wow, I’ve never heard of the Terial Magic liquid! Now I want to try it too. I wonder if the stiffness would cause a problem when quilting? Hmm. I’ll be looking that up to try! 80/20 batting is a good all-purpose batting, I think. Easy care, and it has that heirloom look with the lovely crinkles. 🙂 Happy Mother’s Day to you, too. – Stacey

        Liked by 1 person

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