T-Shirt Quilt Top Finished!
Oh, I have been talking about this quilt for a while and a big long half! Late last year my brother sent me some of his high school and college t-shirts with a request to make him a t-shirt quilt. So many things happened in my brain at that very moment that now I just need to list them:
My brother wants a quilt, from me!
T-shirt quilts – eeewww!
Does this make me cool to him?
I’ve never done this before.
He wants a queen size; this could take a while.
Something called interfacing?
Every challenge is an opportunity to shine!
His college colours were purple and forest green. Ugh.
Why didn’t he ask Grandma Sparkles?
There’s only twelve shirts here, that’s not enough!
Will he be okay if I get creative?
Don’t ask, don’t tell!
Where do I even begin?
Comma fabric range had a good orange.
I don’t have that much experience with improv piecing.
It’s gonna be a big hot mess.
He’ll love it no matter what.
As you can see, there were all sorts of emotional hysterics happening before I’d even started working on this quilt! In the end though, all of those emotions helped guide the project to what I think is a very successful quilt top. Yes, it’s busy, but that’s what I love most about it. There is so much to explore, you could have your own Lewis & Clark adventure in bed! (Just as long as I get to be Sacagawea, ow!) The quilt top is 90″ x 96″ and I’m sending it off to Gemma of Pretty Bobbins for some longarm lovin’. If you’re really interested in my process, you can read on for some small tidbits and inspiration about various sections of this quilt.
I used Sam Hunter’s book, Quilt Talk to paper piece his name into the quilt. I then used part of a shirt and some Botanics fabric to create a flag flying over head. It doesn’t get much more personalised than this!
Most of the t-shirt quilts I have seen use squares on the grid. I knew the best way to keep me from falling into that mould was to cut the shirts up into different shapes. Let the creativity flow!
My brother plays, coaches, and loves football. So I made this block (and tutorial) using tiger-striped fabric in a nod to our school mascot. Interesting side note: In high school, I earned a varsity letter in cheerleading for being the guy inside the tiger suit!
Living in Oklahoma, this is easy to forget.
This is like the science corner! Broken herringbones, atoms, positive and negative ions, dashes churning around! Comma fabric provided a great jumping off point for this quilt.
I made sure to include several wonky stars, Lord knows we are all a bit imperfect. Then there’s that sparkly dot, cotton-linen blend I picked up in Japan. I mean, I had to!
This is one of the t-shirts; I’m pretty sure I burned myself when applying the interfacing to this one!
Another football, and an autumn leaf to represent going back to school and starting up the season.
This is one of two tornado blocks I made for this quilt. This is a block of my own creation (tutorial pending) and I kind of think it needs to be a whole quilt. This could be a fun bee block!
Originally intended as friendship stars, but one of the Glitterati pointed out that it was like brothers holding on to each other in an embrace. I like that.
This is one of his college shirts; purple and forest green, yeah, errr, I know. The saving grace is that purple, green and orange are all in the secondary colour family, so they harmonise well together.
I had to make an Oklahoma block! This one is simple, but so graphically effective for a quilt like this. (Tutorial pending). We ain’t known as the panhandle state for nothin’!
The eye of the tiger, you see? This was a moment where I wanted to use the scrap pieces from the footballs, and just kept trying until something made sense.
Sly reference to my photography background.
Here’s another tornado block. If you didn’t realise, Oklahoma is in the middle of what is called Tornado Alley. Tornadoes are part of living in Oklahoma, and despite the good and bad, they define part of your up-bringing.
My brother is also a hunter, so I’d be amiss not to include this Oh Deer! fabric. Bang!
This Terra Australis 2 selvage is from fabric donated for the Sewing For Sydney campaign, while also serving as a reference to my adopted homeland. These are both defining moments in my life that are captured so beautifully with a single scrap of fabric.
Converse Confessions, anyone? If you know me, you know my obsessions.
I turned this wonky star into a shooting star per the quote below. This design idea definitely needs some further exploration.
My favourite quote used in the quilt: “Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars…In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.” – Max Ehrmann, poet. So true, and I hope he remembers this.
This log cabin block was the first filler block I made, and I just love that USA high school jacket in the centre. It contains a scrap of my favourite fabric from 2013, Little Kukla Meadow in Orange and a piece of Thesaurus fabric by Thomas Knauer. Oh, and you’ll see on the right, there’s also a tower of Architextures Ledger print for a bit of a math kick!
This is one of my favourite areas of the quilt. There’s so much movement around this block with all those flying geese circling, changing colours, and then disappearing altogether!
I used the last of my Constellations fabric in black, because I want my brother to reach for the stars.
This was, by far, the hardest part of the quilt to piece together. This is where like 27 partial seams converged together to test my skills as an improv piecer. Making that arrow happen almost killed me, but look who’s laughing now!
This is the other Oklahoma block I had to improv into place. I included the cross as a reference to Oklahoma being part of the “Heartland of America.”
Much like a delectable mountain, life will have rewarding challenges, and hopefully they’ll make my brother sparkle even brighter!
“Man Up.” How many times did I think this while making this quilt!?
Whew! Are you dazed and confused yet? I know I am! I hope you can use some of my experiences to find inspiration the next time (if it hasn’t happened yet, trust me, it will) someone important asks you to make them a t-shirt quilt. Grid or no grid, take a chance and give it some of your own flavour. I’ll show you some more photos once it is quilted and bound, but for now, I’m glad to kick this quilt out of the house.