Graduation parties – they’re a staple this time of year and are a sign that summer is just around the corner! If you’re looking for a gift for your favorite graduate, consider making a T-shirt quilt to capture their best memories.
T-shirt quilts are relatively easy to put together – in fact, the hardest part for you may be getting the t-shirts from the intended recipient without giving away the gift itself. You might need a trusted accomplice to help you select shirts from their stash to avoid drama caused by cutting up their most prized T-shirts.
Anyone who is active in any club or organization or has a passion about any hobby typically has a decent T-shirt collection. APQS Dealer Elizabeth Persinger quilts on an APQS George and rents it to other quilters from her home in Omaha, IL (yes, there’s another Omaha besides the one in Nebraska!). Her nephew’s collection of T-shirts commemorating his participation in marathons and his love of running was no exception. Elizabeth accepted his request to create a quilt from his bulging stash of shirts. Elizabeth received enough shirts to make a king-size quilt for him, and she has graciously shared her pattern!
When working with T-shirts, the challenge is to find a way to cut the shirts to preserve any logos or designs as much as possible while still having enough space to create seam allowances. Smaller T-shirts may require making your quilt with smaller blocks. In Elizabeth’s case, her T-shirt selection allowed her to make larger 15½” square blocks from each shirt to create a larger quilt.
So that each T-shirt could be set apart, Elizabeth incorporated attic window sashing. This technique puts the shirt inside an imaginary “window” and really focuses the attention on what’s being viewed inside the frame. In addition, her pattern introduces a special way to create the angled seam at the bottom corner of the window frame that avoids having to create a “Y” seam in the intersection. The clever piano key border allowed her to tie all of the various T-shirt colors together harmoniously.
She loves to preserve memories for people to enjoy and share with others through her quilting. In fact, her nephew’s dog loves the quilt so much that it has found a few spots irresistible! Elizabeth repurposed some leftover T-shirt scraps and used them to patch a few holes lovingly chewed into the quilt. The red patches you see on the photo below were not part of her original design scheme, but they definitely add character and show that the quilt is truly loved by everyone in the family!
Thanks to the large 20-inch throat in her APQS George sit-down machine, Elizabeth was able to maneuver even that king-size quilt through the machine and quilt small meandering over the entire quilt! She helped support the extra heavy weight of the T-shirts as she quilted using clamps and bungee cords suspended above the quilt—something she calls a “game changer” when working on huge or bulky items.
Check out Elizabeth’s T-shirt quilt pattern for more hints on constructing the quilt, including tips on stabilizer and construction to help you get that graduation present finished well before the cap and gown ceremony!