Friday, August 26, 2016

Can I Get A Whoop Whoop? A Whole Lot of Starts!

Hi, all!

Wow!  It's already Friday again!!  Can you believe it?  Is it just me, or does it seem like the weeks go by faster the closer it gets to fall? Well, whatever, it's time to get our whoop whoop on - are you ready?  I am!  Let's get started...


It seems like it's been a period of starts and no finishes for me lately.  First there was this, a test of a pattern I needed to try before cutting into the good stuff...

The pattern is for a table cover, but I'll be turning this one into a tree skirt.  Any interest in a pattern for this?

Next, when I opened my Stash Builder Box for this month, there was a great pattern by @quiltingjetgirl and I couldn't wait to try it out - so I grabbed an old fat quarter bundle and put this together over the weekend.  Great pattern and so fast! I've already got plans for some others to use up some of the random fat quarters I've got hanging around!

And then I finally got this top pieced!  This quilt was started by a member of our quilt ministry who died recently, and her husband asked if someone in the ministry could finish it.  It was fun to make, and I should be able to finish it up soon - I just need to figure out how to quilt it!

I've also been working on some more secret sewing this week, but obviously can't show that off - which is why I've been working on other things too!  Gotta have something to share on whoop whoop Friday!

So - - - can I get a whoop whoop?


And now it's your turn!

What's got you whooping it up this week?

What's making you dance a little happy dance?

Share - we want to dance right along with you - 
And it's always more fun to dance with friends!

The party will stay open until Sunday midnight - 
Hope to see you there!



Monday, August 22, 2016

Make-A-List Monday - Rockin' and Rollin!!

Hi, all!

Monday again, and we're starting to see little hints of fall here - it was lovely and cool this morning when I went outside, a first for the season.  It's been so warm that even at 6 am, it's been hot and sticky.  I love the way fall kind of creeps up on us, and I'm hoping to see more of it sneaking in soon!

I'm also happy to say that last week was a very productive one!  I really feel like I'm making some headway on a lot of projects - and that's a good feeling.  Let's see how the week went...

1.  Keep working on the secret projects.
Done!  One finished, one in progress, one stalled, and several in the design phase.  I managed to kill my Go! Cutter working on this - one of the dies got stuck in it and I can't get it out.  Arghh!!

2.  And just so there's pictures to show next week, work on the string blocks for the ministry member's quilt.
All the blocks are DONE!  Here's the blocks all stacked up ready to sew in units of four...

...and here's two sets sewn together and up on the design wall!

Isn't that pretty?  I really like the way this is turning out.  Can't wait to get more of these blocks sewn together!

3.  Quilt that last top for Covered in Love.
Done!  Julia Kennedy pieced this beautiful top...

...and even sent this beautiful pieced back to finish it!

This quilt is going to Covered in Love - I think it's the last 
of this year's H2H donations!

4.  Start deconstructing the t-shirts for the commission quilts.
Done!  I've got all of the shirts deconstructed so the tub they are in is now able to close - hallelujah!

5.  Cut down t-shirt backs into usable blocks 
(for this week's scrap post?)
Well, I've started on this project - here's what it looked like when I began...

...and here's what I've cut so far...

...but there's still about half a tub of t-shirt pieces to cut up!  There are 35 12.5" pieces, and way more than that of 6.5" and 4.5" - so I think I'll be able to make a bunch of stadium quilts out of this!  

6.  Keep up with any quilt ministry needs that come up.
Done!  We've been kind of slow, so I posted a note on Facebook for our members - and boy did they come through!  This quilt is going to a man who just lost his wife and is having difficulty adjusting...

This quilt went to a man who was just diagnosed with lung and bone cancer, and is currently going through chemotherapy.

This quilt went to a man who's body suddenly stopped making bone marrow.  He's going through tests to try to determine the cause of his condition.

We also gave one other quilt that I forgot to take a picture of - it went to a gentleman who has been diagnosed with a debilitating disease that is taking away his mobility.  He's having a hard time dealing with the changes in his life, and we're hoping that a quilt will help him realize that he's not alone!

So all in all, last week went very well!  And not only did I get to all the stuff on the list, but I made this pretty quilt top...

...using a fat quarter bundle of Echo by Lotta Jansdotter I had been hoarding since 2011 and a new pattern from my Stash Builder Box called Bundle Buster by @quiltingjetgirl - and wow is it ever a bundle buster!  I had a handful of tiny scraps left over from sixteen fat quarters, and now I have a beautiful top that measures about 60" x 80"!  And it only took about four hours, from pressing the fat quarters to finished quilt!!  If you aren't a subscriber, you can't get the pattern yet, but @quiltingjetgirl said that she would be releasing it as a stand-alone pattern in the next few months.  Follow her on Instagram to stay informed about the upcoming release!  This is such an easy pattern, it will definitely become a go-to pattern for things like charity quilts!!

I also wrote a tutorial for making t-shirt quilts that posted Sunday evening - all the tips I could think of that I've learned while making them all summer!  If you've ever thought of making one, I hope you'll take a look and see that they're not as difficult as you think!

OK - so now let's see what's on the horizon for this week...

1.  Keep working on the secret project!

2.  Sew together the string blocks.

3.  Create the blocks for the two t-shirt commission quilts.

4.  Mail the H2H quilt to Covered in Love.

5.  Make a weighted blanket (commission job).

6.  Keep up with any quilt ministry needs that come up.

Looks like a short list, but there's a lot of work there - so unless I get a herd of minions, I'll be plenty busy this week!  

So now the question is - - - - what are YOU working on this week?



Sunday, August 21, 2016

T-Shirt Quilts De-Mystified - a Tutorial

Hi, all!

I've been fielding so many requests for tips on how to make a t-shirt quilt - probably as a result of having made so many this summer! - that I decided it was time to do a down-and-dirty tutorial.  

T-shirt quilts really aren't that difficult to make if you plan ahead.  First of all, your t-shirts should be clean and neatly folded or hung up (this will save you time in pressing them) and should be washed in detergent but NOT fabric softener.  

There are some tools that will make your task easier:

      A good sharp pair of scissors
      Rotary cutter with a fresh blade
      Square rulers in a variety of sizes - 
               12.5", 14.5"-15", 16.5", 20.5" 
      A large cutting mat

You'll also need a good interfacing.  I really recommend using a woven fusible interfacing - it will stretch less than the Pellon-type interfacings, and give you a more stable quilt.  I purchase the one shown above from Amazon - it comes in a 60x72" sheet, which also means there is less waste than with a 22" wide strip of interfacing.

Now take all of the t-shirts you want to use and sort them out.  Here are a few tips:

If a t-shirt is very small and/or has a high content of spandex, you may want to leave it out.  It's possible to use a small t-shirt by adding fabric in the neck area (using the back) and/or cutting into the sleeve area, but you may not be happy with the way it looks in the end.  

Look at the size of the design on your t-shirts.  This is where your variety of sizes of square rulers will come in handy.  You can lay your templates over the design area and see exactly how large you need to cut the block.  You can see how I've done that in the picture below...

And don't forget to look at the backs, too - they may have things on them you want to save, as this one did...

In this case, both sides of the shirt only fit under my 15" ruler.  Because this is an important shirt for this quilt, I'll probably keep it and cut all of the other t-shirts the same size!

Look at all of your shirts and sort them out by block size.  You'll probably see a trend in size.  Most women's t-shirts have an imprint area that will fit under a 12.5" ruler.  Men's t-shirts can go as high as 20", but most will fit under a 14.5"-15' ruler.  

For your first t-shirt quilt, I highly recommend having all your t-shirts cut the same size.  Once you've got a quilt under your belt, you'll be better prepared to experiment with quilts using different block sizes and layout designs.  

For my first t-shirt quilts, I used a very simple layout - laid out in a 4 x 4 grid of blocks, with 2" sashing and cornerstones and a 5" border.  With 12" t-shirt blocks, this quilt is about 68" square.  Add a fifth row, and it measures 68" x 82" - pretty close to a twin size quilt.  With 14" t-shirt blocks, it measures 76" square.  Either size is a great size for college students to take with them for their dorm room - something I've done a lot of this summer!

Using a simple layout also makes it easy to know how many shirts you will need.  Most people have a lot more shirts than they will actually need, which gives you some leeway to choose the best ones - whether that's based on size, content, color or condition.  

Now that you've decided which t-shirts to use, you will need to deconstruct them.  There are lots of different ways to do this, but here's how I do it.  Using a sharp pair of scissors, cut up both sides to the underarm, then around the armhole and up the shoulder seam.  Cut through the neck trim.  Cut off the sleeve on the other side of the shirt, trimming right next to the seam.  If you are going to cut blocks from the leftover fabric, cut the sleeve open at the seam and lay it aside.  

Here's a good place to talk about the leftover fabric.  There's a lot of stuff leftover from a t-shirt after you've cut the block out.  I've had suggestions to use them for stuffing dog beds, cut up and crocheted into rugs, rags for cleaning - the possibilities are endless. I'm currently cutting my leftovers into 12.5", 6.5", and 4.5" squares, which I plan to sew together into a stadium/picnic quilt, backing it with reclaimed denim from jeans.  We'll see how that goes!

Cut your interfacing blocks 1" larger than the size you plan to cut your t-shirt blocks.  Lay the shirt piece face down on the ironing board and lay your interfacing, adhesive side down, on the back of the shirt.  Center it on the design, folding it back to verify that you have covered the design and that it is basically centered.  Because of the larger size of the interfacing, you've got some leeway if it's not exactly centered.  Press the interfacing on the t-shirt back.  

Now flip the piece over on your cutting mat, and center the ruler template over the design.  Use the markings on the ruler to help center your design.  Cut out your block.  Repeat for all blocks.  Congratulations!   You've just finished the hardest part of the quilt!

Cut your sashing pieces the same length as your block sides, and 2.5" wide.  Cut the cornerstones 2.5" square.  Assemble rows of t-shirt blocks, alternating sashing strips between each block and on the right and left ends of the rows.  You will have four t-shirt block rows.  Sew together the cornerstone rows, alternating five cornerstones and four sashing strips. Make five of these.   Then assemble your rows into the quilt top, alternating cornerstone rows and t-shirt block rows.  

Cut your border strips 5 1/2" wide.  Fold the quilt in half lengthwise and measure the length of the quilt along the fold.  Piecing your border strips as needed, cut two pieces the length you measured and sew them to the right and left sides of the quilt top.  Now fold the quilt in half horizontally and measure the horizontal length.  Piecing the border strips as needed, cut two pieces the length you measured and sew them to the top and bottom of the quilt top.  Congratulations!  You've finished the quilt top!

Now for quilting.  I used my long-arm to quilt my very first t-shirt top, which I also used Pellon-type interfacing on.  I hated the way it stretched and pinched the fabric, so I've not loaded one on the frame since.  I usually do straight line quilting on my tabletop machine, which works for me.  You may choose to do free motion quilting, but be aware that the thicker ink on some t-shirts can be very difficult to stitch through, and sometimes sticks on the bottom of your sewing machine foot.  

Generally, I use invisible thread on the top to stitch in the ditch around all of the t-shirt blocks, then using a neutral thread that blends well with the top, stitch a triple diagonal cross-hatch through the blocks and out into the border.  A Hera marker is a great tool to have for marking those blocks for stitching - you'll be able to see the lines when you stitch, but there's nothing to wash out - just a slight crease in the fabric.  

Once you've got a basic t-shirt quilt under your belt, there's lots of variations you can do.  I've done a couple this summer where the customer requested some specific blocks be used that were different sizes, so I designed the quilt to utilize those and the smaller blocks too.  One girl wanted her homecoming and salutatorian sashes incorporated in her quilt, and another had some badges that she wanted added.  It's fun to work all those elements into the design, but sometimes it takes some serious quilt math!

I haven't yet tried a puzzle style t-shirt quilt - I have a feeling that they will take much longer than the simpler design I use, and of course, that means extra cost for the customer.  I may try it with my husband's t-shirts, though, so I can have a basis for costing one out that isn't just guesswork!  

Where, oh where, are the minions I need to do everything I'd like to do?!?!?!?!?

So - - - are you ready to make your own t-shirt quilt now?  Let me know if you have any questions I didn't answer and I'll be glad to help if I can!