18 Dec
2014
Posted in: projects
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DIY: T-shirt Quilt

I appreciate a good craft project. I swear I can hear my glue gun and sewing machine calling to me when they’ve been neglected. My husband will often come home to find items painted or rearranged.

Our kids enjoy being involved with sports, school and clubs. Over the years, they’ve amassed quite the collection of t-shirts from various organizations. They eventually are relegated to the pajama drawer. I saved outgrown shirts thinking I would find the perfect keepsake project. Two years ago, inspiration hit when I overheard a conversation about the making of a t-shirt quilt. I thought it was perfect. I do sew, but I gave myself too much credit. My first attempt for our oldest son was not my “A” game.

t-shirt squares on a table for a quilt

I’m too impatient to make sure every rectangle is the same size. I lacked the right cutting instrument, namely a rotary cutter. I don’t really have a designated crafting area where projects can wait to be worked on when I have the time. I had never sewed with jersey material. The list of problems with that first memory blanket is long.

t-shirt squares for a quilt ready to be sewed together

None of the problems I saw with the quilt mattered. That boy of mine loves it. He immediately placed it on top of his comforter almost two years ago when I finished it. It’s been there every night. Each of those messily cut and sewed rectangles hold some memory for him. I know he appreciates the effort, but it’s wonky at best.

a finished twin-size t-shirt quilt

I continued to save t-shirts knowing I would take another swing at the quilt. I began a second t-shirt quilt this summer with ideas on how to fix the issues from the first quilt. I dove in with the younger boys assisting me. They helped pick which rectangle would go where in the design of the blanket. They assisted in the sewing of rectangles. Then they watched me burn out and set it aside.

No one said anything about my failure to finish. One day I looked at the pile of rectangles and decided it was a Christmas present that needed finished. Giving myself a deadline was all it took. I worked for a couple of days while children were at school and finished the t-shirt quilt. It’s wrapped and under the tree waiting to be discovered Christmas morning. I wish I could share step-by-step instructions for the project. I learned by trial and error. It helped me on the second quilt to look at more photos of quilts and to have some experience with jersey material under my belt.

It’s lovely and not even comparable to the shabby thing my son loves. It’s gratifying to work through problems and see issues rectified. I could have chosen to wash my hands of quilt-making, never to cut or sew another jersey rectangle. Instead, I believed I could learn from mistakes and become better. I think the third attempt will be the best yet.

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