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In the Quilting World

Memory Quilts -- Creating a Lasting Memory

There are many types of memory quilts made for a variety of occasions. Do you have a collection of T-shirts from a sport, hobby or specific interest or just T-shirts you want to save? T-shirt quilts seem to be the most popular type of memory quilt that I have found, although other fabrics can certainly be usedóflannel or cotton shirts, jeans, etc. I recently made a T-shirt quilt for a friend and wanted to share the process with you.

Hi itís Carolyn Beam here again; Iím the person who writes this update. Thanks for joining me as I share my thoughts about quilting with you. As always, Iíd love to hear ideas and suggestions from you as well.

Before I share my T-shirt quilt with you, Iíd like to suggest a pattern I think might be of interest to you. If youíre like me, I use the first of the year as a chance to sort through and organize my fabric stash and plan my projects for the year. This Heartland Heritage Quilt pattern is great for using up fat quarters or fabrics from your stash. And if you find yourself spending more time inside during the winter months, this is the perfect take-your-time project to keep you busy!

Back to making a memory quilt. If youíre using T-shirts to make a memory quilt, adding a fusible interfacing to the back will make them easier to work with and eliminate the stretch of the material. There are several products available and some that are specific for T-shirts. A search on the internet yielded several results, but this is the one I chose.

Fusible Interfacing for T-Shirt Quilts -- Click here for larger image
Fusible Interfacing for T-Shirt Quilts.

The first thing I did was cut out the front of the T-shirts.

Front of a T-shirt cut out -- Click here for larger image
Front of a T-shirt cut out.

I measured the logos on the front, and back if there was one, to see what size I would need to cut from these shirts so that I wasnít cutting off any of the words or images. I determined that a 14" square would work without losing any writing and also account for a seam allowance. In my example, Iíll be referring to the size I used for my quilt. It may be different for yours, so please make the necessary adjustments for your own block size. Youíll find that many logos are close to the top of the T-shirts. I found that to be the case, so many of my squares do not have a logo centered but rather closer to the top. Since I wanted all my squares to be the same size, this was the result. In one case I ended up combining two different shirts on one square since writing on both was small.

I was working with a random collection of T-shirts that were mainly sports related but also would be important to the person I made this for. Itís ok to combine different themes and colors when making a memory quilt.

Once the T-shirt fronts have been cut and the size determined, itís time to fuse the interfacing to the back of the shirts. Cut the interfacing into the size neededó14" for my quilt. Cut the T-shirt fronts into 15" squares (or 1" larger than the size youíll be working with) centering the logos if possible. The T-shirts need to be larger at this point so that when the interfacing is ironed on, none of it ends up on the ironing board. Follow the instructions for your particular interfacing to center and fuse the interfacing to your squares. After fusing, trim the squares to 14".

Square trimmed after adding fusible interfacing -- Click here for larger image
Square trimmed after adding fusible interfacing.

I had nine blocks to work with, not enough to make the lap quilt I wanted. I decided to add a border to each square. There were a variety of colors in my squares, but the predominant ones were the Colorado Broncos football team colors blue and orange. I cut 2 1/2"-wide strips from orange and blue fabrics that I had in my stash. For my 14" square, the strips needed to frame the square were 2 1/2" x 14" and 2 1/2" x 18".

Square framed with orange strips -- Click here for larger image
Square framed with orange strips.

I framed four squares with orange strips and five squares with blue strips. For the orange blocks, I sewed the strips to the sides first, followed by the top and bottom. For the blue blocks, I sewed the strips to the top and bottom first, followed by the sides. That way I didnít have to match seams when sewing the blocks together.

Once I had the nine blocks sewn together in three rows of three blocks each, I added a 6 1/2"-wide strip to the top and bottom to make the quilt rectangular. My quilt measures 40 1/2" x 52 1/2", a nice lap size.

Cara Cansler of Sew Colorado Quilting quilted my top for me. I wanted a simple quilting design that would keep the focus of the quilt on the T-shirts, so I chose a gentle wavy design. Cara used a clear monofilament quilting thread that blended into the design and didnít clash with any of the T-shirt colors.

Finished memory quilt -- Click here for larger image
Finished memory quilt.

This is one way of making a memory quilt, especially when there arenít a lot of T-shirts to work with. Framing each square adds additional color and interest to the design. Another option is to sew the T-shirt squares with sashing between them instead of framing each one. No matter how you choose to sew the T-shirts together, it will be meaningful to the recipient and a treasure to keep! Iíd love to see memory quilts that youíve made. Please feel free to share them at Editor@QuiltersWorld.com.

Please stay safe and healthy!

Take care,

Carolyn

Carolyn Beam

Carolyn Beam
Editor, Quilter's World magazine


Carolyn has been quilting for over 40 years. She took her first class when her oldest son was a baby and hasn't stopped since. She has traveled the country teaching and lecturing and has had many designs published in books and magazines. Besides making quilts for family and friends, she also makes quilts to donate to the fire department her youngest son works for. Carolyn is married with three grown sons and one adorable grandson.



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