Tech Shirts in a T Shirt Quilt

I’m making a T shirt quilt for a friend, so she sent a large sack of T shirts to be used.
This friend and her future husband are both very athletic, so many of those T shirts are tech shirts–meaning they are 100% polyester knit!

I searched the internet for specific instructions for using polyester T shirts in a quilt and found NOTHING useful. So, here’s how I solved the problem, and I expect it will work for you, too.

The blocks for T shirt quilts are backed with fusible interfacing to stabilize the knit fabric. I buy lightweight interfacing so the quilt will drape well. A while back, I bought a bolt of Pellon 906F for that purpose. It is very lightweight and is intended to be used with semi-sheer fabrics, so it bonds at a relatively low temperature–very important for polyester T shirts!Polyester T shirts in a quiltAs you can see, the 906F is lightweight and thin.  It fuses just fine at a temperature between the silk and wool settings on my iron. That setting requires only a few seconds to fuse, so there is no damage to the polyester shirts! Score!

This interfacing is working fine with the 100% cotton shirts as well. All that’s needed is a backing that keeps the T shirt from stretching as it is sewn and quilted, and this does the job.Tech shirts in a T shirt quilt

Here’s a look at some of the quilt blocks, waiting for final arrangement on the design wall.  My husband came along and said, “How did you get T shirts so flat?”  The answer, of course, is the backing 🙂

I’ll have a picture of the finished quilt as well as more information about it in a few weeks. Meanwhile, be warned: another friend who requested a T shirt quilt ended up making it herself (with my help)!

A Nice Surprise and a New Scrap Project

ribbonFirst, the surprise: One of my quilts, Cherrywood Toss, won first place in the Modern category at my local show! Needless to say, I was thrilled!

improvisational quilt

Cherrywood Toss. Read about it here.

And then it was on to a new scrap project!  I’ve been wanting to make a scrap quilt with a zillion pieces ever since my friend Jerri made her postage stamp quilt.

I came across the “lego quilt” on Pinterest and followed the links to this post by Tonya Ricucci of Lazy Gal Quilting, which gives specific directions.  Go visit her post–there’s a cool picture of an antique quilt that gave her the idea.

lego quilt

Strips on my design wall

Tonya made her 10″ (finished size) blocks using 1-1/2″ strips composed of scraps of various sizes.  She mentioned that there was some difficulty getting them to come out the right size.  Because of that, I am making my strips 11″ long unfinished so I can trim the blocks to 10-1/2″ wide after they are assembled.  Also, I’m making the first strip in each block 2″ wide unfinished so I can trim in that direction as well.  lego-2

So far I’m just making strips and putting them on the design wall to be sure I have a balance of values throughout the quilt.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  This takes a LOT of time!  And like most scrap quilts, it doesn’t seem to use up even 10% of the available scraps!  So far I’ve used only one drawer of the scrap cabinet!!!!

This might be a good leaders-and-enders project, since it seems like it could take forever.  I’ll let you know how it turns out 🙂

Tutorial: Spray Baste a Small Quilt

I’m putting this up because I will be teaching a class soon in which students will be doing some spray basting before class, and I’m hoping to make it easier for those who have never tried it.

The quilt shown here is about 40″ x 40″, an easy size to spray baste.  I have a variation for spray basting larger quilts, but I won’t cover that here.

Start by taping the quilt back to the floor, right side down.  Pull enough to get rid of wrinkles, but do not stretch the fabric.

spray basting

Backing

Next, sweep the porch 😉  If all you have is a deck, that will do, but sometimes the spaces between the boards are a bother.Baste3Lay a large clean piece of discarded fabric on the porch floor.  This is a sheet from a long-ago pre-teen room.  Baste4

Lay the batting on the clean cloth and spray baste it evenly according to the directions on your can. It’s best to do this outdoors to avoid inhaling the spray.

The batting here is Quilter’s Dream Green. It’s made out of recycled plastic bottles.  It works great, and as you will see it doesn’t look green even through this cream colored backing.Baste5

I generally use either 505 or Sullivan’s basting spray.  The only one I avoid is the one that breaks down with heat. I follow Michele Scott’s method of ironing each section of the quilt just before I quilt it, and that obviously won’t work if ironing destroys my spray basting!

Baste6Lift the batting carefully and transfer it to the backing, sticky side down.  Usually I center the backing on the batting, but this quilt is an exception because the design on the front is meant to kind of “wrap around” to the backing.  Keep reading and you’ll see it.

Next, put the quilt top on the clean cloth right side down.  Spray it with basting spray.Baste7

Transfer the quilt top to the batting, sticky side down.  I do this by grasping the top on opposite sides, about at the midpoint, and letting it fold in half (non-sticky sides together) as I lift it.  Then I place the first half on the batting and gently fold out the second half to cover the batting.

Smooth it all out and you’re done!  Remove the tape, quilt and bind.  Here are the front and back:

Questions?  Better ideas?  I’m all ears 😀

 

New Design Wall!

I have had several types of design wall over the years, most recently just a flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth hanging on the wall. However, a few months ago I read Katie Pedersen’s instructions for her design wall, and decided I wanted THAT one!  She used big sheets of foam insulation covered with a flannel sheet, so fabric sticks to the flannel and pins go into the board easily if needed.

A non-messy part of my husband’s shop is in the same space as my studio, so it made getting him to make the design wall for my birthday really easy!

design wall for quilter

The shop corner of the studio!

I e-mailed my husband Katie’s design wall tutorial, then e-mailed Katie for further help. (She washed her flannel sheet twice, drying it on hot both times.)

My husband had a few ideas to make the whole thing sturdier, so he added a thin sheet of underlayment material behind the insulating foam board.  Then he added a wood frame on the back to stabilize the whole thing.  This shows the back side with tape holding the foam to the underlayment, as well as the wood frame.  We glued the insulating foam and underlayment together, as well.

Back side of quilt wall, showing taped seam where pieces were joined and a wood frame to reinforce the whole thing.

Back side of quilt wall, showing taped seam where pieces were joined and a wood frame to reinforce the whole thing. Tape at the edges wraps around both board and foam to hold them together as well.

Then we wrapped the sheet, taped, and stapled per Katie’s instructions.

Despite all that, every project has its glitches:

We were NOT successful in putting bolts or screws through the whole thing to attach it to the wall.  Finally we decided to hang it with a French cleat, which you can see here if you want to know what that is.  That meant that nothing from the hanging apparatus had to go through the front, so no holes in the flannel!

And finally, here it is:design wallI’ve used it quite a bit already, and it works beautifully!  Thanks for the idea, Katie!

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Fixing an Oops

I’m quilting a lap size quilt on my home machine. I’m not fond of the process, but custom quilting isn’t in my budget, so here I go. About half way through the process, I discovered a loose seam where, despite paper piecing, one seam allowance had been TOO small and the seam had opened up.  There wasn’t enough fabric to allow me to just overlap and top stitch the seam.  The edges barely met and, while one was a folded edge, the other was a raw edge.

fixing a quilt mistake

The opening was about an inch long

Luckily, I have a tool from garment sewing I used to fix it.

using stitch witchery to fix a quilting mistake

Stitch Witchery is a heat-activated glue in a strip

I used the Stitch Witchery to bond both sides of the seam to the batting.  This also stabilized the edges so they won’t fray.  Then I zig-zagged across the place.  Thank goodness it was a black-to-black seam so there’s no problem of one side of the zigzag showing on a colored block.

Fixed with minimal fuss

Fixed with minimal fuss

I’m not glad it happened, but I’m satisfied with the fix.  I will NOT be pointing it out to anyone looking at the finished quilt 🙂

Now I’m back to the quilting.  The piece is about half done.  I’ll show it to you when I finish.

Cover for The Quilter’s Planner

I was pretty excited to get the newly-developed Quilter’s Planner (more info HERE if you’re interested) for Christmas.  I decided it needed a fancy cover to protect all my

The Quilter's Planner 2016

The Quilter’s Planner

plans!  A quick Google search for “planner cover tutorial” found one HERE by Jodi Bonjour on her blog Sew Fearless.

Now, Jodi’s tutorial is for a planner of a DIFFERENT SIZE, You can follow her general directions, but here are my modifications to make it the right size for the Quilter’s Planner. As is often the case, it took 2 tries to get this right, so I’ve also made a few notes about what worked for me.

First, about cutting:  I cut the pieces for the cover, lining, fusible fleece, and Peltex (stiffener) 20-1/2″ x 11″.  The sleeves were cut 5-1/2″ x 11″.  Here are pictures of the interior of the planner cover, showing what the sleeves are:

cover for the quilter's planner 2016

Interior of the planner cover, showing the sleeves and the closing tab

cover for quilter's planner 2016

Interior with the planner in place, cover inserted in the sleeves

I pretty much followed Jodi’s instructions, BUT here are a few hints:

  • I spray basted the backing to the Peltex–that stuff is slippery.
  • It may be a good idea to cut these pieces 1″ larger than needed and trim to size after quilting the cover.  As always, things shift a little during quilting.
  • Jodi used a big snap to close her cover, but I used hook-and-loop tape.  It’s more adjustable, and who knows what all I may jam in with the book?  (Plus, I couldn’t find my snap setter 🙂
  • Jodi’s directions just say to attach the tab closure.  For the record, you do that by lining up the unfinished end of the tab with the unfinished edge of the planner cover, centering it along one side.
  • I cut my binding 2-1/4″ wide, attached it to the inside with a 1/4″ seam, and turned it to the outside.  This made the seam attaching it to the outside almost 1/2″, which made the planner cover fit tightly into the pockets.  It worked out fine, but check your seams so you don’t find the pockets have gotten a little too small!

I quilted my cover, which holds all the layers together really well.  I’m not sure what would happen if you didn’t do that.  Here’s a picture of the quilting:

cover for quilter's planner 2016

Quilting on the exterior of the cover

And here is my planner cover, ready to start 2016!

cover for quilter's planner 2016

The finished planner cover

What are your plans for the new year?

New Quilts from Old

This is a quilt I made a few years ago to practice cutting curves freehand. It never looked as good as I thought it should, for various reasons.

I loved the quilted leaves, but I thought the golds should have been more similar in value; the light ones stood out too much. It always bothered by husband that the curves didn’t line up from block to block. Anyway, it never got much use.

Then I decided I needed more placemats, and hit on the idea of cutting up this quilt into placemat size pieces (18″ x 12″).  So I trimmed off the binding…Placemat from quilt

And used my extra-big square to cut pieces 12″ x 18″.Placemat-8

Then it was time to search for binding.  Of course, I had no more of the fabrics that are in the quilt, since it was made several years ago.  Eventually, I decided on the second combination:

Here are a couple of the finished placemats:

Even some of the backs were interesting, and showed the quilting better:Placemat-13

There was only this much left over:Placemat-4

So, if you have a quilt that didn’t quit work out, maybe it would make good placemats!

My Modern Sampler, Blocks 9 and 10

Channeling Gwen Marston, I made a couple of “liberated” quilt blocks for the sampler.  This means they were cut without a ruler and the pieces are deliberately “wonky”.

modern sampler, modern quilt block

Liberated Hole in the Barn Door blocks finish about 5″ square

Some current authors are making a big deal of cutting without a ruler, but Gwen Marston has been doing it for years.

I DID use a ruler to make the original background square.  Here are the steps:

modern quilt block

I cut the big square using a ruler, the subdivided it into a 9-patch freehand

modern sampler quilt

Corners done, time for the sides

modern sampler

Sides done using method similar to the corners: pin, check, then sew and trim

modern sampler

Ready to be sewn together!

For Block 10, I cut my scraps into strips.and lined them up.

modern quilt block

Scraps cut into strips and pieced with black and white background

The widths of the colored strips and the white strips between them are semi-random. The sashing between the columns finishes 2″, and the block finishes 12″ square.

A few more blocks and then I’ll have to decide how to set them!  Here are the previous posts about My Modern Sampler:

Block 8

Painter’s Tape Block

Humbug Star

Improv Block I

Pretty Blocks

My Own Modern Sampler–It May Take a Year!

My Modern Sampler, Block 8

Here’s a picture of the blocks made to date for my modern sampler. Links to the posts about each one are at the bottom of this post.  Some are designed by me, some not.

modern sampler

These are the sampler blocks I’ve made so far

It’s time to look at all the blocks together and think about what this quilt needs next.

  • So far I’ve made 7 blocks; it needs 7 or 8 more.
  • The blocks will fit together in multiples of 3″, with some solid strips to fill in spaces. The blocks are generally “busy”, so I think those solid strips will be important.
  • There are a variety of colors and a lot of white and bright.  I like the bright, but I want some more black backgrounds.
  • All of the blocks except one have some text fabric.  I need to either save the one block with no text for another purpose or make 2 more without text.  I can use some text fabric as background strips.
  • That orange and turquoise block with all the random trapezoids doesn’t fit with the others, so I either need to make more like it or modify it in some way.  I may cut it up and re-make it altogether.  Suggestions?

Meanwhile, here’s one new block to add to the sampler.

modern scrap block

The Modern Scrap Block will finish 12 inches square

And here are the steps for making it.  I just sewed together my scraps and then framed them with triangles.

modern scrap quilt

I made sets of strips left from other blocks.

These strips varied in width, and some were uneven widths.

modern scrappy block

Strips of tiny blocks cut from the strip sets.

I joined the strips of little blocks (which varied in width from 1 inch to 1-1/2 inches) and then added black triangles.  The center “square” is NOT square–it is improvised without much measuring!

There, now I have another one with a black background! Here are the links to the other quilt blocks in my sampler:

Painter’s Tape Block

Humbug Star

Improv Block I

Pretty Blocks

My Own Modern Sampler–It May Take a Year!

Modern Sampler: Painter’s Tape Block

For the next block in my modern sampler, I used an improvisational technique that first occurred to me several years ago: I outline the size I want my final piece to be with painter’s tape and then fill it with whatever shape I’ve decided to use.

My first exploration of this technique was a T shirt quilt.  The motifs from the shirts were many different sizes but could all be cut as rectangles or squares.  I outlined a rectangle about 55″ x 68″ on one of my carpets and stated filling it with shirt pieces.  I selected a modern fabric to fill in the holes, and here it is:

Improvised T Shirt Quilt

Improvised T shirt quilt

The shirts were all cut into rectangles and squares, and the fill-ins therefore were rectangles and squares as well.  I’m not saying this is easy, but it sure was more fun than just making a bunch of blocks the same size and lining them up.

So for the next Modern Sampler Block, I outlined an 8-1/2″ square on my cutting mat and started filling it with triangles.

Improvised quilt block

Starting a square that will finish 8″

I added 1/4″ strips between the triangles to give the whole thing definition.  Then I just kept addiing triangles (that I cut randomly) until it was done.

Improvisational quilting

Improvised triangles block

No chance of a pattern for this one.  To make it, just cut a triangle you want to start with and then keep adding on.  I have a couple of deliberate exceptions to my “rules” so that the eye doesn’t just keep saying “yes”, it has to stop occasionally and say, “hey, wait!” The only trick is to keep finishing with a straight edge so you can easily add on the next section.

Try this technique! I hope you enjoy it!

Here are the previous posts in my Modern Sampler series:

Humbug Star

Improv Block I

Pretty Blocks–better look at this one!

My Own Modern Sampler–It May Take a Year!