February 17, 2011

T-Shirt Quilt

I feel like I am constantly trying to come up with creative ways to de-clutter my life. When I was single, all I needed to do was fill up some trash bags full of stuff I was sick of looking at and take it to the goodwill. In face, I have been almost compulisive in my purging of stuff. This worked great for me...but then I married Zak. Zak is a pack rat, no he's not to the level of those scary hoarder people, not even close. Let's just say he places strong sentimental value in many of his material possesions, and wants to keep them around forever (and ever). I have had a hard time coming to understand this, since until we began our live together, I had just gotten rid of anything I didn't use anymore, why keep it if it isn't uselful? Through the years I have come to appreciate that some items truly are special, so it's safe to say we have both grown together around this issue...that is until we moved in together, and I discovered the giant bags of T-shirts left over from when he owned his own screen printing company.

"Zak, can I take these to the goodwill this weekend?"
"No! I'm keeping those!"
"B-but they're not even in your size, you'll never wear them..."
"Jess, I'm keeping them."

I think we argued about these shirts for the entire first 4 months of marriage. You see these just aren't any old t-shirts, these are shirts that have Zak's own designs on them, and he didn't want to get rid of them, not even duplicates. I tried to understand this as much as I could, but I just couldn't justify having three industrial sized trash bags of shirts sitting around for the rest of our lives. So I started to get creative.

I finally convinced him to donate the blank shirts once we identified that it was the designs he really cared about and not the actual shirts. Then we set aside all the shirts in his size, that he can wear (I folded and put them in a rubbermaid container that fits under the bed, no more trash bags!). After that we were left with one big bag of shirts. If we were going to keep these shirts, they couldn't just sit in a bag, he couldn't even enjoy them that way. Then an idea came to me...T-shirt quilt!

I thought convicing Zak to let me cut up his shirts was going to be impossible, but I still brought it up casually...and he was stoked! Needless to say, I set to work immediately. I am a complete novice when it comes to sewing so my mother helped me get started.

I started by plotting out a basic pattern section for the t-shirt designes with four different cut-out shapes. I think using different sizes makes the quilt look much more interesting than just having the full front of each shirt in a one-size cut-out.
Kind of looks like Easter M&Ms 
Then I calculated how many of each shape I would need to make a queen sized quilt. Then the fun part, I started cutting away, which took about a week. Once I finally had all the cut-outs, I started sewing the pattern sections together. Then I sewed all the sections together to complete the front of the quilt.
Back side of the shirts
After I had the front done, I sewed it to the piece of flannel I got for the back. I did this like you would do a pillow case, leaving one side open. Then I slid the batting into the quilt and sewed up the last side. Finally I sewed around each pattern section to hold the batting in place, I used red thred that contrasts nicely with the black and white flannel. Here is the finished product:
 Hooray, cool, cozy and sentimental (note the ninjas on the bottom!)

I have no idea if this is the proper way to make a quilt. I just went with what seemed easiest to me. One thing I would definitely do differently next time is to sew the front piece to the batting, then sew on the back, and complete with stiching around the sections. Trying to get the batting into the quilt when I had already sewed the front to the back was a HUGE pain in the ass. and it ended up being all wrinkley inside and I went insane trying to smooth it, lol. Other than that this process was a really fun way to improve my sewing skills, and de-clutter my house a little bit. Most  importantly, it now allows my husband to enjoy the shirts he spent his early 20s designing instead of keeping them hidden in a bag :) 

I also plan to frame some more of the shirts that didn't make it into the quilt, so we can have a cool wall display as well. Now if I could only come up with an equally sweet way to use all of his old notebooks from college...


medora said...

i love quilting, so if you ever get into another quilt project, i'd be happy to assist. the quilt turned out mad awesome :D

Laura said...

This was a great idea. You have me thinking of things I don't want to let go of lie some of Cam's baby clothes, hummm. Creative things are coming to mind.

A Rancher's Wife said...

when you run out of shirts i'd love to have you make one for me out of my sorority t-shirts! :)

Ali said...

You tackled that project head on without any prior quilting knowledge...I'm seriously impressed, Jessi! Sewing intimidates the crap out of me.

The quilt looks awesome. Really cool shirt designs, too. Mike would definitely rock the gas mask tee.

Kenny said...

Very cool. Keep up the great work Jessi!