Two T-Shirt Quilts; Not One

High School Athletic T-shirts and Gymnastic Garments

Two t-shirt quilts; not one is definitely not what I started out to do. The concept I started with was one quilt made from two t-shirt tops for one reversible quilt with high school on one side and gymnastic on the other. I wasn’t prepared for what happened in the process. Lessons were learned and procedures perfected. The vision became two t-shirt quilts; not one.


Gymnastics Quilt Details

Quilt on left is the Gymnastics front with backing folded up to see. On the right, the high school t-shirt quilt is shown with the black faux fur backing folded for comparing.

I chose this fabric for the backing as there are these colors within some of the blocks. The circular pattern gave motion reminding me of gymnastic skills used in the performances. It is a lovely cotton quilting fabric. The quilting is hard to see. I matched the backing thread to the blue/green background. On the front, the thread is a variegated blue that worked well with all the colors and would disguise any back thread that might show on the front. I used the same fabric as the binding and found it to be a nice contrast finishing off the edges. Using this wavy line quilting design, the result is subtle and less distracting than if straight.

Washing and drying may cause the 100% cotton back fabric and the 80% cotton in the batting to shrink some. This will depend on the manner it is washed, water temperature, method of drying, and heat of dryer, if used. You can expect little to no shrinkage in the shirts and other garments used because they were previously washed.

High School Quilt Details

The photo on the right is the high school athletic/senior quilt. The bottom portion of the photo is the faux black fur. The binding on this quilt is made from leftover t-shirt fabric. It blends well with the back and isn’t distracting on the front. The thread choices for this quilt were silver gray, a bit darker on the top versus the bottom. I would expect the thread to become invisible on the back after the quilt is washed and it settles more into the fur fabric. The pattern for the quilting is an edge-to-edge meander and fun to do as you stitch as if you are the needle wandering wherever you desire, trying not to cross a previous stitched line. It allows for puffiness from the batting to show. The same reactions to washing can be expected as for the other quilt.

My Observations and Conclusions Why One Quilt Was Not to Be

What Worked

Because they were to be back-to-back, each quilt top was designed to be 60″ x 72″. Adjusting the block size on the high school side was needed. The center column of blocks was cut at 14.5″ wide and 12.5″ long each to accommodate the logo size. The 2 columns on either side were cut blocks measuring 12″ wide and 12.5″ long. Creatively doing some custom blocks, the top came out to be 60″x72″ matching the gymnastics 12″ finished block top exactly.

Making a quilt sandwich with the two tops and one layer of batting was so easy. Even though I was putting it on the long arm frame pinned together as if I were hand quilting, it only looked great! Plus, did I mention how heavy this sandwich was? It may have qualified as a weighted quilt!

What Didn’t

I know stabilizer will not adhere to fabric washed and dried with any type softener. I concluded I must be witnessing the “softener versus stabilizer” I had heard about. My error in not rechecking the bond before cutting the blocks is something I will not forget in the future. I thought they’d bonded. When t-shirt fabric is on its own, it will stretch when stitched and handled. As a result, puckers and folds were taking place no matter what I tried on both sides of the double t-shirt quilt.

Rubberized logos and designs also do not like to slide across the sewing machine bed. They grab hold while the blocks on top are bunching up. It happens so quickly regardless of the speed stitched.

I never thought of these issues. Even trying to think through all the problems I might encounter, sticking to the bed of the sewing machine never even flitted through my mind.

Two Quilts Finished

It isn’t the one we were hoping for, but I do hope the customer is pleased with the direction I went to preserve the memories with her daughter’s shirts and gymnastics leotards.

Moral to this adventure – you are never too old to learn!