Thine arms are ever warm,
Thine arms are ever warm.
Memory still shall close enfold,
Bringing us joys of days of yore;
Faith shall thy constant fame uphold,
While years, Carissima, grow cold.
We love thee evermore, We love thee evermore.
Like most residential college students, I lived in school t-shirts while pursuing my undergrad degree. Then, as I moved along in my professional career, I found myself wearing them less often (hastened by the fact that I lived a mere 15 minutes away from my alma mater). When we packed for our move to Vermont (downsizing in the process), I refused to move the bag of shirts yet again so, I spent some time one afternoon fusing on interfacing and cutting the shirts into future quilt pieces. Those took up far less room in packing boxes.
Now—eighteen months later—it took just a single evening to piece them into a quilt top. All told there are 21 shirts represented (some with multiple squares depending on their print design).
It’s a partially-complete capsule of my four years—music, dorms, publications, social justice, just plain social, and a summer internship that set me on the road to my career. I even designed a couple of the shirts (and countless posters, event invitations, and publication layouts). It’s oddly lacking in reference to my major (I still wear our hoodie) or the on-campus internship that ate up over 20 hours of every week (and a few summers).
For backing, I spray-basted two layers of fleece in the school colors (“buff & blue”, or in this case Joann Fabrics Anti-Pill Fleece in Camel and Navy Blue Tartan), then sewed the outline of an ‘H’ shaped after the official logotype. After cutting out the top layer inside the ‘H’, I zig-zag stitched around the cut out to secure it before basting the top to the two layers of fleece. Eagle-eyed readers will notice it’s slightly narrower than square; I trimmed off an inch from both sides so that I didn’t need to piece the 58″-wide backing fleece.
I chose to hand tie the quilt rather than machine quilt it for no reason other than wanting to tie a quilt. Again, I went with the school colors, using embroidery floss I had at home (DMC colors 842 and 823, inherited from my grandma). It was not easy pulling two full-thickness strands of embroidery floss through the layers, but a few TV marathon sessions (a habit started in college) and a few large tapestry needles got me through.
In my haste to finish it, I made a rookie mistake of using unwashed cotton binding (Moda Bella Solid Royal), which shrank in the wash. It’s usually not an issue—I don’t prewash fabrics so they all shrink together, but well-worn t-shirts are another matter. The result is a slightly rumpled edge and corners that like to turn up. It just adds more character in a memento of four years full of it. I’m looking forward to cozying up with this during my second Vermont winter. With two layers of fleece, it’s quite warm!
I hope you’ll forgive me for delaying this post for a couple weeks for photo purposes. It seemed fitting to wait until we drove back to Utica for a weekend, giving us a chance to take photos on “The Hill” where it all started. The weather didn’t cooperate, but it certainly brought back memories. Also, there’s no small amount of irony that the Dark Side tee anchors the quilt (as well it should, considering my dorm choices for three years), yet we took all of the photos on the light side of campus. It fits.