Friday, August 4, 2023

The Story of a T-Shirt Quilt

A few months ago, my neighbor, Shari, called and asked me if I knew of anyone local who could make a t-shirt quilt for her son, who was retiring from the Marines. I said yes - me. :) 

Here's a look at the finished quilt - keep reading for the story. 

I met Shari at our local fabric shop to choose fabric. Because this was a military quilt, we started out looking at red and blue fabrics. But none of the patriotic fabrics really appealed to us. And then I found the sashiko-inspired fabric. Brad was stationed in Japan for quite a while, and this print reminded Shari of his time there. Bonus points that it was a beautiful fabric! 

Then we started looking for sashing fabric and for a "filler" fabric - something I could use to enlarge any t-shirt blocks that weren't large enough. This particular t-shirt quilt didn't have a color theme - sometimes if a quilt is made up of college or high school shirts, they're primarily in school colors, and that makes choosing fabric easier. We opted for red for the sashing for 2 reasons: 
1. It brought us back to the patriotic color scheme when paired with the navy border print
2. It helped to really define the blocks, most of which were neutrals or darker colors. 

The last print we chose was the navy stars. Here, we went opposite of the red - the goal was to choose a print that would blend in with the t-shirt colors rather than stand out. The navy frames the smaller blocks without calling attention to itself. 

After I prepped all the t-shirt blocks (see my Thermoweb post for more details, including the two must-have products I recommend to make a t-shirt quilt), it was time for layout. Purely by luck, I had the same number of blocks with and without the navy frame, so I decided to alternate them. I think this helped to blend the navy frames into the background even more. 

Here's the quilt top assembled before quilting. 

My machine quilter, Diane, did a great job as always. She did an allover loops design for the blocks and then red stars in the sashing. In the photo below, you can also see one of the blocks I assembled from small t-shirt squares. Most of these were from polo shirts and motifs printed on sleeves. I cut them as large as I could, and then sewed them into a four-patch. Add a navy frame, and this block was the same size as the rest. That's an easy way to use smaller elements in your quilt. 

I really love how the red sashing makes the blocks pop.

Here are Tom and Shari with the finished quilt. They traveled to their son's house for the retirement party and presented the quilt to him there. I was honored to be part of such a special project! 

Want to learn more about making t-shirt quilts? Head over to Thermoweb's blog to read tips on how to make your own. 


No comments:

Post a Comment