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T-shirt memory quilt

by Clare Mansell
T-shirt memory quilt

T-shirt quilts are something I have always loved the concept of, but I’ve struggled a bit with their style. One of the things that appeals to me about quilts is their graphic simplicity and regular shapes and t-shirt quilts are very often composed of irregular blocks and a higgildy piggedly design.

My turning point with memory quilts came when I made Alice’s one using clothes from her first year, I kept it simple, used regular sized blocks, complimentary colours and mixed in some plain squares. I surprised myself by loving it so much when it was complete, so I decided to try it again on a much bigger scale with Theo’s t-shirts.

Like many of my favourite projects I worked at this on and off for a silly length of time (over a year I think) then when I imposed an arbitrary deadline (Theo’s birthday last month) I suddenly summoned up the burst of energy to finish it quickly.

upcycled t-shirt quilt

I imposed order on the random selection of designs by using three set sizes of blocks and Kona cotton blue sashing. The smallest squares are 6 x 6 inches (finished) the medium 9 x 9 inches and the large 9 x 12 inches.

I made 4 rows of small blocks and two of medium and large. The t-shirts I used were mostly age 3, 4 or 5, though there’s one square of Alice’s old leggings squeezed in. I had cut it out for her quilt and it didn’t match the other blocks, so I reused it here.

I also used the backs of t-shirts and where there was manufacturer details or clothes sizes printed on the inside I flipped it so these were visible. It adds interest and it’s part of the story.

upcycled t-shirt quilt

Because this was a particularly special quilt which I hope will get passed down and because it was larger than most of the ones I make, I also chose to have it longarm quilted.

Shelley at Quantum Quilting in Fareham did the work and advised on the pattern. I was thrilled by the finish and will be using her again.

I’ve now completely got over my aversion to t-shirt quilts and think with the rising cost of fabric and the amount of waste clothes we generate it makes complete sense to be reusing materials in this way, after all it’s where quilting has it’s origins.

At the moment I’m working on a baby quilt for a friend, but after that I plan to clear all my existing stash making scrap quilts and only spend money on yardage for sashing and the backs of quilts. I wonder if I’ll achieve it?!


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