Tuesday, January 3, 2012

T-Shirt Quilts

Ever wonder what to do with your old t-shirts? Maybe you have shirts from high school or college. Or shirts from your softball league or favorite sports team. Or a collection of Hard Rock Cafe shirts from the 90s. Or shirts from a great vacation. Or Old Chicago Beer Tour shirts. Whatever your collection, Carlia Creations can make a memory quilt for you using those t-shirts. They can be shirts you don't wear anymore or ones you just want to save.

I made my first t-shirt quilt when I was 19 and home from my first year at college. I had a bunch of high school shirts I knew I wasn't going to wear anymore (I thought I was way too cool to wear a high school shirt) but I didn't want to toss them or donate them. I decided to make a quilt out of the shirts so I could keep them as momentos without taking up unnecessary space. T-shirt knit material is very difficult to work with for quilting. It stretches, pulls and does not maintain its shape. I used a cotton sashing between the rows of shirt blocks to stablize the quilts. It worked well and I had a gorgeous memory quilt I could actually use.

Fast-forward 10 years and my friend and I started a memory quilt business. There was a definite need and desire for this type of quilts and I liked being able to provide this service locally. We saw some fun themes with the shirts sent to us. I learned some tricks on how to best display the shirts, minimize stretch and maintaining the integrity of the shirt.

Then, life got pretty busy for me (getting married and having kids) so I didn't do much quilting for a few years. Once I started Carlia Creations in 2010, I began getting inquiries on memory quilts again. I recently completed a memory quilt for a client here in my area. This was the most difficult quilt I have completed. The shirts were incredibly varied in size: some were t-shirts and some were tank tops. Some were ladies baby-doll type shirts while others were standard t-shirts. The quality of the shirts were varied as well. Some were a high quality knit that held shape well, others were merely undershirt quality that stretched like you can't imagine. Plus, she had more shirts than I had room for panels. I actually created 2 different sizes of quilt blocks, used cotton sashing on all sides of the knit blocks, cut and stitched tank tops to display the framework of the tank while keeping the silkscreened design and block shape, and appliqued parts of shirts onto cotton rectangles and then appliqued onto the quilt. Whew! These complexities made the quilt take much longer than originally anticipated. The finished quilt is gorgeous and very fun looking. It will be a fun keepsake for this client.

If you are interested in having a t-shirt quilt made, please contact me. Pricing is based on number of shirts, quilt size and additional requests. Turnaround time is also contingent on these factors. Please keep this in mind if you have a date specific deadline. Payment is 50% at time of ordering and the remaining 50% due when quilt is finished. Here are some pictures of a few quilts I have done.


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