Back in January, I met with a friend whose father had passed away after a battle with cancer. She wanted to memorialize some of his shirts into a quilt. I happily agreed.
I hadn’t yet made a t shirt quilt myself, but I knew the basics – cut the t shirts into squares, stabilize, add sashing, then quilt and bind like a regular quilt. Once I surveyed the shirts, I knew it was going to take a little bit more skill. Each shirt had a design that was a different size from the next. That stumped me for a little bit – how was I going to make a good looking (that was important to me) quilt with a bunch of different pieces?
I set this project to the side for a little bit – I didn’t want to rush it and do something I’d regret and my friend hadn’t given me a strict deadline. In that time, I went to CABS and met none other than Andrea Funk – the creator of Too Cool T-shirt Quilts. (As an aside – none of this is a sponsored post). I’d actually stumbled upon her website previously while looking up a different t-shirt quilt company (who won’t be named here) and found a review and side by side comparison of the styles.
After hearing Andrea talk, I found new inspiration for this project. I ordered her book (I cannot recommend this enough – if you are going to make a t shirt quilt, you need this book. Again, I’m not sponsored by Andrea or affiliated with her company – I get no kick back or incentive for mentioning her book – I just whole-heartedly recommend it) and followed her instructions for making templates.
Andrea’s directions are clearly written and illustrated. Every step in the process is covered, from start to finish. You can follow these directions even if you’ve never made another quilt before.
Working just during nap times and evenings, I got this quilt together in what felt like no time. Quilting and binding took another couple days, but I managed to have a finish for the month of April!
There were times in this process that I really questioned my decision to make this quilt for a friend. I was afraid to cut into the shirts for the longest time, and almost began to dread thinking about them because I just wasn’t sure what to do or where to go. It was easier for me to set it aside and wait for a fairy godmother to wave her magic wand and poof! I’d be ready for the ball (or to make this quilt).
Andrea was that fairy godmother for me (I’m sure she didn’t anticipate that when I met her). As I read through the book, it felt like light bulbs were literally being turned on in my mind. What seemed like such a complicated, insurmountable problem had a really quite simple solution. (I’m not going to share the secret here – that’s for Andrea and her book to do.)
I did make some modifications to Andrea’s instructions. I used stabilizer; she doesn’t. I wasn’t sure of my cutting and sewing skills when it comes to knit fabrics and I wanted to give myself a safety net. I used a featherweight stabilizer from Pellon Pellon 911FF Fusible Featherweight Interfacing 20in x 10 Yard Bolt. Color: White.
(that one is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I’ll never recommend something that I don’t absolutely love.) That stabilizer prevented stretching but did not add heaviness or stiffness to the shirts and the quilt overall.
Because I used stabilizer, I was able to do all over quilting on the quilt without worrying about stretching or distortion. This quilt turned out absolutely perfectly. Minerva handled the t-shirts and stabilizer like a pro – no issues related to the fabric or thickness of materials.
Andrea’s method really helped me achieve results that were much better than what I would’ve done on my own with a whole lot less struggle. It’s much easier to let someone else do the hard work. It’s my tendency to make things harder than they need to be by insisting I need to figure things out for myself, but this was a time that I’m glad I let someone else take over.
My friend is happy to have her quilt and I’m thrilled with the result. I have no more fear about t shirt quilts in the future.