Out of the ordinary T-shirt Quilt

This isn’t your average t-shirt memory quilt!

Unless your average day involves being a sound engineer for famous rock bands!

T-shirt Quilt Rock Bands

I make lots of memory quilts, the majority of which are memorializing loved ones who have passed away. The baby clothes quilts are always uplifting. And the beautiful emails I get from my customers are so heartwarming. But once in a while I get a really fun job like this one!

The girlfriend of a guy who does the sound engineering for rock concerts commissioned a quilt from his t-shirts. There are some big names in there (like the Rolling Stones in London.)

 

T-shirt Quilt Rock Bands detail 2

 

I know people commission work from me when they don’t want run-of-the-mill memory quilts, I don’t tell people how many shirts to send me. I don’t have a set formula for what size I am going to cut the shirt fronts. And it doesn’t end with fitting everything into a grid! I do lots of free-motion quilting outlining and highlighting the graphics on the t-shirt fronts, which makes the backs of the quilts really interesting, too.

T-shirt Quilt Rock Bands detail (back)

 

 

 

After seeing her final photos, my customer wrote me:

I am beyond blown away by your artistic vision. It is quite apparent you take pride in what you do! I love the black on black stitching of the front graphics on the back. It creates a simple but powerful look. Thank you for all your hard work, I’m so happy I found you and can’t wait to see it in person ūüôā

This is what makes it all worthwhile!

Old Clothes Hold Good Memories

Wife’s Shirts Hold Warm Memories

I recently shipped a memory quilt made from women’s blouses. A sweet man from New Orleans commissioned this quilt from his wife’s clothing, telling me he remembered her wearing every single piece.

My customer’s request was “keep it simple”—he didn’t want any fancy quilting/free-motion stitching or modern styling. So I accommodated his request for simplicity with clean blocks with sashing and backing from a subtle white-on-white print.¬†

Memory quilt from old clothes

Women’s blouses are smaller than men’s shirts so, when cutting squares there are fewer creative options. Each block was going to have the button tab as no blouse was wide enough to make a block with just the pocket, for example, like I do with men’s shirts sometimes. So to add variety, I ran the button tab diagonally on a couple of the blocks. A couple of the blouses had square cut-out necklines, so I added fabric behind the cut-out.

shirt blocks

I like to include special features of clothing, so I did include the entire collar on one blouse, carefully stitched down so it wouldn’t make a dramatic shift in texture. Another blouse had pretty white collar and cuffs, so I ran a sleeve diagonally across the block and the white cuff makes a nice accent.

A couple of denim shirts with Disney embroideries were included in the box. I cut the Disney characters out and appliqued them on another denim shirt, basically combining 3 shirts in 1 block.

 

Upon receipt, this is what my customer wrote to me:

“It is beautiful and brings back so many good and beautiful memories. Again I thank you from the bottom of my heart. What a great job! One more time, thank you, thank you, thank you”

I’m so touched and grateful that I could bring that kind of joy to someone.

 

Modern Memory Quilts from Shirts

memory quilt from shirts

I’ve recently shipped out a commission for 5 colorful memory quilts. These quilts were made in memory of a man who passed leaving a wife and 3 young boys. Each of them and his parents will¬†receive a quilt to honor his memory.

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The customer requested the quilts be made in Modern style and sent me a box of 80 beautiful dress shirts. I wanted to be sure to distribute the materials well throughout all 5 quilts so first I cut all the shirts apart. I saved the collars, cuffs, and button tabs for a friend who is a multi-media artist. (I just love recycling textiles!) ¬† I sorted and grouped the materials by color groups so as I work and know a color I want, I’ll know where to find it. Solid white and pale blue shirts were set aside to use on the backs of the quilts, supplemented with some other pale colors.

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Depending on my mood each day I chose a set of colors to work with. This type of piecing requires lots of cutting, sewing, re-cutting, sewing again..and so on.

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Working this way I created sections of unmeasured sizes, but most were 18″ – 30″ on a¬†side.¬†I do love the challenge of keeping it interesting, being imaginative.

I layered batting and backing and spent meditative hours quilting these sections. They were still pretty wonky around the edges at this point, but I leave them that way until I’m ready to put a quilt together.

Putting a quilt together is a big jigsaw puzzle—-balancing sections of shape, color and pattern with enough material to fill the requisite 55″ X 70″ (times 5, remember!) I really loved the whole process!

shirt quilt

 

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Memory Quit from Men’s Shirts

Quilt from Men’s Shirts

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This is a memory quit from 12 men’s dress shirts.

The man who commissioned this memory quilt requested that I create¬†a Queen sized quilt from his shirts¬†He wanted a contemporary style pieced quilt and even sent me a “rough concept” painting to give me an idea of what he wanted.¬†He didn’t want a memory quilt that had collars, cuffs, etc. I was to only use the fabric from his shirts.

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I enjoy corresponding and collaborating with my customers and Aaron and I exchanged quite a few emails about his quilt. We discussed the color options (given the limited palette of blue and brown with a single shirt with orange in it.)

Memory quilt with Kaffee Fassett backing

Aaron wanted the quilting done on the top with an orange thread.  He chose a Kaffee Fassett fabric for the back that had stripes of different widths on a brown background. I used a dark brown thread in the bobbin. I even sent him ideas for the quilting design so he could give me an idea of what he liked. I ended up doing the quilting in a pattern of squares and rectangles that complimented the overall design.

Piecing

IMG_3355I did ¬†lot of different styles of piecing—some straight edge, some softly curved. I did strip piecing, cut the blocks of strips and switched them around to create new blocks. I cut right through blocks and inserted strips in crisscrossed patterns. I did some log-cabin style piecing, some crazy piecing, some nine-patch type piecing. This was a big exercise in piecing with a very contemporary twist.

 

Limits Push Creativity

62-IMG_3365One of the things I enjoyed most was the challenge of the limited palette. Having boundaries/limits is a great way to push yourself creatively. It seems counter-intuitive to say limits are creatively freeing, but it’s true.

Designing a quilt from someone’s clothing is an exercise in designing with limits. It’s really so much easier to go the quilt shop or dig through a stash and pick out just the right pieces of fabric—and go back and get more if things get challenging. With a memory quilt, I can’t do that. My boundaries are to use whatever I am given and make the most of it.

Aaron was concerned that there wasn’t enough variety of mediums and darks. Well, one thing I did was use the reverse side of some of the fabrics. One of the blues was woven so that the right side was a very pale blue while the wrong side was a rich medium hue. Both of the brown striped fabrics looked much darker on the reverse sides (the stripes were much duller on that side) so I could use those wrong sides as an almost-black. I think from a distance you can’t really tell how few fabrics there are in this quilt!

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Just for fun I took a photo of what was left of the shirts, backing and batting when I was all finished. This is it. I think I did pretty well using up my materials!