Friday, November 24, 2006

Southern California T-Shirt Quilt

T-Shirt quilts can be very scary. They always make me a bit nervous. Let me explain.


  • Although there is always fabric in them, the fabric is not the Star of the Show. The T-Shirts represent memories or special events for an important person in your life.
  • The shirts are frequently one of a kind since people do not normally buy or earn duplicate T-Shirts. You can't repair or replace a block.
  • Mistakes that require frogging from any T-Shirt fabric is a nightmare. Finding and pulling thread out of a woven fabric is the worst.
  • The T-shirts are bonded to a stabilizing material that keeps them from stretching but also makes them somewhat stiff. In the old days, you would hear stories about how that stabilizer gummed up needles. I don't think that happens much now but the stabilizer does slow down the normal glide of the needle.
  • And then there is the bulk of those intersections where T-Shirt, 2 or more fabrics, stabilizer, batting and backing come together to make a bump .

Knowing all this, I accepted the T-Shirt quilt job. The customer was referred to me by her best friend, a quilt shop teacher. No pressure there.

Then I got the quilt. The piecing was perfect and it was pressed so well that stitch in the ditch was a piece of cake. It was a pleasure to quilt. The T-Shirts are of hot rod events and some southern California local highlights, like the In-N-Out Hamburger Drive-In. The back was a very bright yellow flannel.

I used Superior's So Fine 402 Pearl thread on top and APQS yellow poly in the bobbin. I SID'd around all the T-Shirts and then hit the highlights or echoed inside the T-Shirts. I did not want to take anything away from the T-Shirts themselves so I stopped, took the photos of the quilt and packed it up to return to the customer.

Then I decided that the sashing looked a bit barren. So I added a palm tree and some suns. I mean, after all, this is southern California. I took it off the machine again and packed it into the quilt bag. But it still needed something so I put it back on the machine and added some surfing waves along the horizontal sashing. OK, that's it. Now, I have to wait for the customer's reaction to my work.
The front:



The back:



A close-up of one of the blocks.

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My life has changed in the last couple of years - some bumps, I retired from quilting, and then I moved to Texas. I'm anxious to see what new adventures await me in the next phase of my life.

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Ramona, California, United States
I started quilting when a quilt shop opened in our little town in January 2004. I have been hooked ever since.

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This is called Fruit Cocktail

This is called Fruit Cocktail
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