On a recent week long visit with Trinity in Texas, I asked what quilting project we could tackle together. On the top of her to-quilt list was making a lap quilt of her deceased uncle’s shirts for her Aunt Lynn. “Unkie” passed away almost five years ago, and Aunt Lynn is finally emotionally ready to clear out his closet. Her idea was to pack his shirts off to Goodwill, but Trinity volunteered to make a patchwork quilt out of his favorites instead.
Trinity had been trolling Pinterest for several weeks, looking for a simple yet striking quilt design that would utilize most of the shirts. She settled on a quilt made with Nine Patches and Half Square Triangles, pictured on this blog: pleasentreeus.blogspot.com (Nappy time posted on 6/01/2011; the blogger, Merumo, credits the book “Country Inn” by Barb Adams and Alma Allen).
We made 9″ patchwork squares, strip-piecing when possible. Besides using the shirts, we included two light/medium prints. I rotary cut, pinned, and pressed while Trinity sewed. In just a few hours, we had the 35 blocks needed. We built a barricade of boxes, chairs and cabinets to keep the curious dogs and children away from our “design floor.”
The back of the quilt utilizes large portions of shirts with a row of leftover 9″ squares in the center. The quilting design resembles a star burst and is quilted block by block. I found the idea in Laura Lee Fritz’s book “Mindful Meandering: 132 Original Continuous-Line Quilting Designs.”
Caveat: All of “Unkie’s” shirts were made of polyester/cotton blends. By working on this project, I was reminded why I prefer to sew and quilt with 100% cotton fabric. Polyester frays easily and is more slippery and stretchy and also puckers when pressed. Since most of the shirt fabrics were of a higher thread count than quilting cotton, my longarm needle skipped stitches several times, necessitating ripping and re-sewing. However, with determination and careful handling, we were able to create a special memory quilt for Aunt Lynn.
Have you made a memory quilt out of shirts? Please share your tips about the process.