To be a bit cliché, this shoemaker is a professional Web Developer and her child is this blog, but it was past time to launch what I have of a new design. All the content is still here, everything else is a work in progress (kind of like most of my sewing projects)!
I’m not much the rah-rah “my alma mater was so amazing!” type, and high school is something I’m glad is over, not something I want to revisit. That said, I will be forever grateful for the three years I spent at this school, and particularly the education and opportunities it gave that have allowed me to go on to be the successful adult I now am. Perhaps that explains why I still had all these t-shirt scraps around. After carting around scraps of t-shirts, a baseball jersey, and a hoodie for over 10 years, it seemed time to either make a t-shirt quilt or clean out the clutter. Making a quilt won, of course.
When I cut up the shirts in January, I knew the eight tees wouldn’t yield enough fabric for a decent-size quilt, even considering the printed backs. My baseball jersey added a bit more, but forced me to consider using block sizes other than 12″ square. After sacrificing the hoodie (my ultimate slum around the house attire, even 10+ years out), and chopping up the rest of the jersey for filler, I had enough pieces to play around with a fun layout based on a 4″ grid.
I rounded out the clothing pieces with black Kauffman flannel (pre-washed!)—the woven fabric gives stability to the knits, but still has a slightly different texture from plain cotton. It’s a surprisingly thick fabric and wonderful to work with. Because of the thickness of the flannel, I used my walking foot for all of the piecing.
Working with the hoodie, different tees, and baseball jersey was less difficult than I expected. With a layer of lightweight interfacing fused to each piece, it all came together simply. The only tricky part was dealing with the jersey—I had to secure the buttoned opening, and fill in the neckline. When I fused the interfacing onto the back, I slipped in a bit of black scrap knit from another tee to provide coverage under the v-neck opening. Then, I used Steam-a-seam fusible tape to keep everything stuck together before storing the blocks away for a few months. I used a blanket stitch around the open edges during quilting to secure it once-and-for-all, although I wish I’d done that during piecing instead of as part of quilting. Regardless, it’s very secure.
Unlike my college t-shirt quilt, I quilted this one, echoing the seams with Gutermann variegated green-white cotton thread from stash (and black cotton in the bobbin). It’s backed with black Minky Ziggy Cuddle, and has no batting (it’s heavy enough as-is). It’s self-bound with the backing (somewhat sloppily), and I slipped in a flange made from scraps of white knit to break up the black. I’m really happy with the effect of the flange, and to have put the knit scraps to use. I’m also happy that the Minky pile hides many, many sins with the binding finish.
This isn’t my most innovative or creative quilt, but it will be nice to curl up with this fall and winter. I’m so excited to have a Minky-backed quilt of my own—so much soft, so much petting!
At the start of the year, I made a resolution to address all of my works in progress in one way or another. I cheated in a few ways (mostly unintentionally), as I only listed quilt projects and accidentally left off one entire quilt. Then, I spent most of the spring not sewing anything at all.
I haven’t made as much of a dent as I’d hoped, considering it’s the start of September (even my mid-year progress report is behind), but I have whittled down the list.
High-school T-shirt quilt—I pieced the entire top together in July, and the backing is in the mail. Status: plan to finish by the end of the year.
EPP Crosses (née Farmer’s Wife)—I’ve continued to slowly piece these EPP blocks together, although months go by between times I work on it. Status: long-term project, no estimated finish date.
Witches Bubble Brew—I sewed the background together, and added embroidery to the concept. There’s still a ton of qpplique and quilting to do. Status: plan to readdress in 2016.
Meta History quilt—I scavenged the scrap bin for 2.5″ squares from older projects, made sure I have squares from all of my recent projects, and modified my plan a bit. Now, the squares have a dedicated home and I’m committed to adding squares of the scraps of each quilt to this box before I call a project “done”. Status: long-term project, no estimated finish date.
Miniatures 9-patch—I’ve been using the strip-pieced chunks as leaders and enders for another project, and have 75% of the blocks finished. I can’t find the heart section that I pieced 5 years ago, so that will keep me from finishing until I figure out where I put it. Status: blocked, plan to finish by 2/2016 one way or another.
Once I’d accumulated enough college tees, I took a pair of scissors to all the high school ones I’d toted north with me (or, I pressed my sisters into that service), planning to make a t-shirt quilt despite having no idea how to quilt. I was left with various half-shirt chunks, which were far less bulky to move around.
Surprisingly, most of those scraps made it through various moves (often as packing materials), and found their way into my sewing closet at the apartment. After decluttering a variety of other things over the long weekend last week, I decided it was past time to do something with the almost-rags.
Now I have a pile of pressed, interfaced squares and rectangles awaiting piecing. I imagine these will sit in a box for a while yet as my college tee pieces did, but progress is progress.
In addition to eight t-shirts (some with printed backs), I finally cut up my hoodie and baseball jersey. There’s not enough for a decent-sized quilt with just those 17 pieces, so I played in Illustrator and came up with a design that adds in scraps from the jersey with a yard(ish) of purchased fabric.
I may change my mind in the future, of course, but I rather like it right now.
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.