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How to Make a T-Shirt Quilt

Back in the 1970’s  when country style and quilts had a resurgence in popularity, looking in one’s closet for handmade quilts that Grandma or an elderly aunt had sewn was really “big” and in fashion. Quilts have been stitched by hand only since time immemorial and later were machine and hand-stitched when treadle sewing machines became available to the public from the late 1800’s onward. Throughout the Depression Era and into the 1940’s, sewing quilts out of bits of leftover fabric and worn out clothing was an essential skill of women and young girls in most households ~ reuse and recycling fabrics was what everyone did!


Here is the beginning of the t-shirt layout. First I just randomly cut each
t-shirt then later I went in and squared up each front and back to the correct size.


In the spirit of all the seamstresses before me who recycled their clothing into lovely log cabin, May basket and flower quilts, I am sharing a display quilt I began during the 2019 summer and finished at Christmas-time.  Using t-shirts my son either won or we bought for him while he was pole vaulting and running cross-country during his high school years, this was a gift he asked me to make and I was happy to finish it over six months. Let’s get quilting, friends!…


The Time Travelers sewing group meets at our local library once a month.
It all began with a request from my son Peter for a t-shirt quilt made from his old track and field t-shirts. His mother-in-law had made one for Justine, his then girlfriend, while she was still in college; I remember it hanging in her college bedroom in a flat she, Peter and another girlfriend shared their junior year at the University of South Dakota.

So how do you plan a t-shirt quilt like this?

Begin with a drawing as you lay out your shirt pieces of how you think you’d like your quilt to look when finished. Decide where you’d like certain colors, shirts for different school years or events, etc.

Use a quilting square and cutting mat to make each t-shirt the size you need ~ here most of these shirts were cut to 12″ – 15″ square.

This is the back of part of the quilt with interfacing ironed and sewn on and into top, bottom and side seams. This is also where I added 4″ finished cowboy fabric strips to have a place for “extra” t-shirt memorabilia to be sewn ~ i.e. signatures of Olympians and semi-famous pole vaulters from sports camps.
Iron on stabilizing Pellon interfacing to give support to each t-shirt then begin seaming shirts together and also seaming to support fabric pieces.

I used 10 yards of a 1940’s style cowboy barkcloth fabric which was originally supposed to be four curtains in our son’s room as he was growing up (that obviously never happened!). The barkcloth was perfect for its overall thickness when each t-shirt was fused to its interfacing as both fabrics had the same weight. I used the cowboy barkcloth to create quilting strips and for the quilt back. There was just enough!
;)’


Keep “tweaking” your pieces and add in extra additional fabric to make all the t-shirts fit. In this quilt I began with all the most important events centered in the very middle of the quilt. From there I added Peter’s freshman year t-shirts at the top, followed by his sophomore years shirts. The senior and junior years followed below that, more or less, with the senior year (his best year) the main focus on the row below the central square as would be seen when hanging on a wall or over a banister. 


       

  

How do you machine sew these big pieces together?

I began by sewing my cowboy fabric horizontal strips to each set of t-shirts groups in horizontal rows, then I began sewing one row to the row below it.

Here you can see where I am sewing the top two rows of t-shirts to the center section rows. The bottom rows of fabrics are underneath for reference.

Never having sewed this kind of a quilt before but having worked on handmade quilts with a sewing group while we were stationed at Camp Pendleton, this seemed like the best plan.


When seaming vertical fabric groups into the main quilt, you’ll have to roll your fabric in order to keep sewing, as shown here.

Here is the semi-finished quilt top laid out and ready for final additions and ready to be joined to the batting and quilt backing.

Because the t-shirts and backing fabrics were mostly 100% cotton, I chose this all natural cotton batting for this quilt. It needs to be washed and dried first (as part of its instructions) and that created one tear in the batting while in the washing process.




How to finish the quilt?

Measure across horizontally and vertically to get final measurements and decide whether you can live with it being slightly out of perfectly square/rectangular or not. Adjust the outer edges by cutting off pieces as necessary.

For this quilt I literally took my cutting board and placed it underneath the entire quilt while on the floor and used the rolling cutter and trimmed the edges there.


Finish by making a self-made seam binding of the backing fabric ~ or this can be a contrasting fabric if you prefer. The seam binding will start out as about 3″ wide strips that will be sewn together, ironed in half width-wise, then turn in each half and iron down again (seen best in the left-hand photo below).
🙂




Begin at one corner and work around the quilt sandwiching all the fabric in-between the binding. Miter the corners (right photo) of the quilt by folding in parts of the binding to create pretty folded  “hospital corners” on each upper and lower edge. Hand sew to the front and back quilt pieces going through the batting, too, once in a while. The batting will mostly be sewn into the quilt in the next step.



Hand baste the top through the bottom fabric to stabilize all the fabrics together (you can also just use safety pins). Machine sew “in the ditch” of each and every vertical and horizontal seam sewing through the quilt top, batting and quilt backing.

If you prefer to quilt as your ancestors did long ago, then by all mean enjoy hand-quilting! My mother-in-law hand-stitched our wedding ring quilt out of left-over pieces from my bridesmaids’ dresses using a PVC quilter’s frame she bought and had set up in their living room for months.



It was a labor of love and I still appreciate her hard work every time we place this quilt on our bed each year… 



I won’t kid you, there is a lot of work involved in sewing a big quilt like this and I took two months just noodling the idea for the design from June to August. Then I began sewing in earnest and finished at just at Christmas-time.

Peter is very happy with his quilt and hopefully one day his track and field quilt can hang beside that of his wife’s. For now, he will have it draped over the queen bed in the spare bedroom.
🙂


Here is a final view of the cowboy barkcloth backing fabric ~ two 80″ long panels seamed together down the center of the quilt. Two lengths were cut off both sides and will be used to make a little quilt for Baby C as he grows up. A few t-shirts didn’t make it into the big quilt so those might end up in Baby C’s room, too…
😉



Sharing with
Thursday Favorite Things ~ Follow the Yellow Brick Home
Share Your Style







Happy sewing, friends!
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Share Your Style #232

Welcome to Share Your Style #232! This link party is for home decor, DIY, crafts, recipes and the like, but you are more than welcome to share your family-friendly posts with us all! As always I am glad that you are here and there are so many great posts to choose from to share with all y’all…

I am your host Barbara Chapman and I’d love it if you’d follow me here on my blog and on any of my other social media sites, too. 
Thank you!

Here’s what I shared this week at

French Ethereal…
In this post I share photos of “The Girls” decorated for the holidays along with a few statues from friends. Hope you will stop by! ~ Decorate Your Statuettes for the Seasons.
Here are this week’s featured posts…

Home Improvement and DI
Amber of Follow the Yellow Brick Home shared more beautiful ideas of which she will be revealing soon as part of this fall’s One Room Challenge ~ Week 5.  Love it and check out the amazing tile! 

I have been keeping up with Amber’s posts about this redo and getting some fun ideas for when we update our master bathroom. It is seriously in need of losing the 1990’s jetted tub (think gross nozzles and a breeding ground for small but cute fruit flies, just not in my bathroom!). I think I shared about the broken wall in the shower, too, when we first moved in… The backyard is ahead of this redo, though.

Rita at Panoply shares all the wonderful treasures she has found while thrift-shopping and the like ~ Panoply New, Vintage Finds. So many wonderful pieces! Aren’t these bunnies cute??


Sandra at Dinner at Eight shared her dining room table set for Thanksgiving ~ soooo pretty with gilded chargers and gold rimmed plates! ~ in a post appropriately titled Elegance and Candlelight for Thanksgiving.

Linda at Crafts ala Mode made this adorable centerpiece created with painted gourds ~ love it!!! ~ Whimsical Goose Centerpiece from Gourds.

Penny of Penny’s Treasurers posted this sweet Thanksgiving display featuring this Yard Sale Deer. Really pretty!


You may recall a post I shared earlier this year at Share Your Style from Debbie at Debbie-Dabble Blog. This is an update on her lovely yard and its gorgeous fall look ~ Late Fall Front Porch and Yard Update.



Big Hugs!!!
😀

If you’ve been featured here at Share Your Style… 

Here is a button to share and copy to your site and your featured posts, thank you!


I’d love it if you’d follow my  Share Your Style board
on Pinterest, thank you. 


Have a blessed week!


Now let’s get this party rolling…
🙂





You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

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We Interrupt This Program… An Update

Hello, Everyone! Share Your Style will be back next week Wednesday highlighting all the features you linked up last week. I wasn’t quite able to get it all together this week in time…



As you may or may not know, I have been sewing a quilt for my son using most of the t-shirt we collected during his high school track and field career. It is a big project which I began in early June and I just need to quilt it now. It’ll be machine quilting so it should go smoothly.  



I am also sewing a dress for a Downton Abbey-Roaring 1920’s themed IOOF meeting and dinner this upcoming weekend. So… with that, I haven’t had time to pick this week’s features.

Share Your Style will be back in its usual spot next week! Thank you for linking up and for understanding. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends and just couldn’t quite get everything done.
🙂



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Have a great week!
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How to Make Your Own Valentine Table Linens

Valentine’s Day is… the perfect time to create a pretty sparkly heart-strewn tablecloth and napkin set to grace your special someone’s Valentine’s table.

Going out on Valentine’s Day is not always high on everyone’s list due to overcrowded restaurants and even less parking. Creating your own beautiful table with handmade linens is a fun and inexpensive way to liven up a Valentine’s Day party at home…

Affiliate links provided for your convenience. If you do
make a purchase I will earn a small amount, thank you!
Please click
HERE to read my full disclosure.

Make your own Valentine’s table linens

Start with some really pretty fabric like these
found at Joann Fabrics:  

A few years ago I made these Valentine’s napkins and tablecloth for a tea I was having while we were still in our last home in California. Then last year I found a book on napkin folding and set a tea table for that.

Since I don’t have that other Valentine’s table linen set here with us currently I thought I’d make another…
And here we are!
😉

Sewing instructions

Measure your tablecloth fabric and cut off any excess to create a perfect square, in this case my tablecloth began as 43″ with selvage and finished is 42″ square.  1 1/4 yards usually gives you a 45″ square but all fabric shrinks differently; be sure to wash your fabric before sewing. 
Turn under your edges and miter the corners by cutting off about 1/4″ on the diagonal ~ this takes away the bulky corner when you are sewing.
Press under 1/4″ all the way around then press under a second time to enclose the raggedy edges of each side, pin as necessary. Hem stitch your seam on the right side from 1/8″ to a scan 1/4″ away from the fold with a regular straight stitch or any decorative stitch you would like. Be sure the seam catches all the edges inside and go back and restitch sections as necessary. {This is where a good seam ripper comes in handy!}
Make your napkins the same way ~ here you can see all the turned edges ready to be hemmed.
Press your tablecloth and napkins once more and you are ready for a party!
I’ll be sharing more of this Valentine’s table linen set and the tablescape I created to share with Mr. Ethereal tomorrow for a Tablescape Thursday post. Stop back by to see the table then!

(And remember that Share Your Style goes up tonight at 7:00pm EST/6:00pm CST/4:00pm PST.)

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Happy sewing!
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Beautiful Embroidered Lace ~ Appenzell WeiBstickerei

Last fall  I found the prettiest lace handkerchief with the tiniest little stitches and pretty flowers woven into it on a fluke while driving around Dallas and just happened to be passing
by a thriftshop…


Recently  I used this pretty handkerchief as a napkin
in this pretty tablesetting but then I got to thinking
about it… and I wondered what kind of lace
was this?
Another of my newer thriftshop finds ~ this cotton hanky is delicately trimmed with
just the tiniest little flowers all the way around it’s four edges.


Both of these handkerchiefs above were found at thriftshops ~ 
the lower is a man’s handkerchief from the early 1900’s
is my guess.
The Appenzeller wedding handkerchief {top} showcases
a beautiful and probably handmade bobbin lace edging ~
3″ at its widest and 4 1/2″ long at the corners.
Amazingly beautiful with a small peony or waterlily in the Appenzell embroidery technique
set just inside one corner of the cotton batiste handkerchief ~ 
this was certainly handmade!

Would you believe I found this one inside a large
but not great picture frame for a mere $4.00?
True story!
🙂

So here’s a little history of this type of lace for you.



A bit of an oops photo!  I didn’t look at what direction I had the plate… Oh, well!  Really shows the beauty of this lace.  😉



History of Appenzeller Embroidery

Appenzeller weiBstickerei is the name in German and in English
{pronounced like “apple” and weiBstickerei has a “double S” written as a capital B}
it is called “the whitework of Appenzell {Switzerland}.”
According to Tourismus Appenzell this type of whitework
“evolved from three related craft industries: tapestry,
cotton spinnery and chain stitch embroidery.”

The peak period when this embroidery technique was hand-sewn was during the 1850’s.
Machine embroidery became available during the Industrial Revolution and basically wiped out all handmade lace industry
with its cheaper costs and mass production ~
quality was sacrificed.
In an excellent paper published by the author of Studio Stitch Art ~ 20th Century Lace: The Struggle Between Machine Lace and Hand Made Lace
the author discusses that combining usage of the jacquard loom carding techniques with the lace backing created by the
bobbin net machine, infinite possibilities in lace designs
were now at the designers’ fingertips.

Skilled lacemakers were stunned at the better quality of
this new machinery but purists {Luddites} kept at their craft
and thankfully handmade lacemaking survived on a much
smaller scale still being passed down from
mother to daughter.

Lacemakers today still use these same ethereal techniques of sewing with silk, cotton or linen threads wound onto bobbins.
Pins are set out in specific patterns on a pillow and from there
the seamstress embroiders in very specific knots and twists.
This technique of creating stretchers, flowers and padded areas
created magnificent 3-D quality pictures which are almost
unheard of in today’s modern world.


I once read that a good day’s work was finishing a
1″ x 1″ square of lace in an 8 hour day…

Another of my little napkins used as a placemat… 🙂
Sharing with
Feathered Nest Friday ~ French Country Cottage
Thursday Favorite Things ~ Follow the Yellow Brick Home
Sweet Inspiration ~ The Boondock’s Blog
Wow ~ Savvy Southern Style
Thursday Favorite Things {following week, Lol!}
Keep In Touch ~ Let’s Add Sprinkles

An update:
This post was featured at
Thursday Favorite Things ~ Petite Haus


An update ~ here are a couple of books you might like that go along with this post:












Just a little fun lace history for you!
Hugs,