Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fill 'er Up: What to Add to a T-Shirt Quilt

T-shirts collections are scrapbooks of our past. The shirts spark memories - reminders of friendships and happy, meaningful occasions. The best loved, most significant t-shirts are the most used so they may be the most faded. I think t-shirt quilts look better with sashing and "full" blocks. Lovely new sashing fabric pumps color into the quilt and freshens the shirts.

Full blocks are also easy to achieve. Create a collage with a variety of shirts but don't forget the cutouts, stickers, ribbons and fancy paper that sets off photos in a lovely scrapbook. How does that translate into fabric?

     1. Logos
Collect all the pocket, sleeve and collar logos leaving lots of blank t-shirt around them. Iron a generous amount of non-woven fusible interfacing to the back of all knit fabrics. Ask the recipient for favorite or meaningful shapes. For example, most fraternities and sororities have symbols such as kites, keys or stars. Create a significant shape and use it cut the smaller logos. Alternatively just cut around the logo. Or frame the logo with ribbon or fabric to really set it off. Then scatter them decoratively across the quilt surface.

Appliques of pocket logos and novelty prints add character to a T-Shirt quilt.

     2. Photos
Scan a photo onto fabric. Create a picture frame with colorful fabric and applique it to the quilt.

     3. Conversational fabric
There are fabrics for every sport, pet, musical instrument, food, method of travel, etc. If you know their interests, add them with a snippet of special fabric.

     4. Stuffed dolls or bears
This doll rests inside a shirt pocket. A ribbon with a snap keeps the doll on the quilt but allows removal for washing.

Pocket added to a T-Shirt quilt holds a small stuffed doll.

     5. Varsity letters, team patches, dance costumes, ball caps
Check Pretty in Pink and Writing with Thread. Carefully unstitch the letters and honor patches on a letter jacket. Add them to the quilt top. Zig-zag or blanket stitch with a regular or quilting thread (40-50 weight) to ensure they stay on. Quilt around these thick items, not over them.

     6. Practice shorts, boarding shorts, preschool shirt, swimsuit
Who'd have thought? You must plan ahead with something that will fill most of a block. Pick a plainer t-shirt like this and cut it with more space above or below the logo to allow room to add the shorts without covering interesting designs on the shirt. Cut the shorts in half; pin to the top; pin a very generous seam allowance. Go back and increase the seam allowance of the shorts. When you reach the point where shorts look ridiculous, let the seam allowance out a bit. Clothing wraps a three-dimensional figure and you're reducing it to two-dimensions. Believe me, she'll thank you!

     7. Award ribbons
Despite encouraging people to use anything on a quilt, I am very wary of using award ribbons. They are usually printed on acetate and do not hold up well in the wash. If you choose to add them, make them removable like the doll above.

I'd love to see what you create.

Fret not; enjoy the day.


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