Another t-shirt quilt completed: Lessons Learned

It was a frenzied finish, of unaligned needles and slipped stitches, but I was able to complete the quilt before my self-imposed deadline.  Why MAIL a quilt to Medford, when the happy recipient would be in Portland after all?

There are a few lessons I’ve learned in this process:

1.  Measure thrice, cut once.  My dad said this to me when I very young.  I think he was working on building a bluebird house.  Back in our Oklahoma days, he took on the plight of the bluebirds who apparently were being pushed out of their habitat by larger, greedy birds.  He took to making birdhouses that would fit only the bluebird.  He’d make several and then place them on various people’s country property – I assume he had permission since he skipped the barbwire and the “no-trespass” signs.

In an effort to speed up the process, I measured once, and well, then I was stuck, especially with t-shirts. There’s no going back!  I narrowly missed Miss M’s name on one of the t-shirts when I was squaring the block!  The block was square, but there wasn’t enough room for the seam allowance without lopping off part of the name.  Fortunately it was not Miss M’s name specifically, but I look at it and it still bothers me.  Measure thrice, cut once. sigh.

2.  Silky t-shirts require interfacing.  I had planned on the interfacing to make the shirts stiffer and more reliably uniform.  I mis-judged when I was ironing (see #1) and the silky fabric of one of the jerseys did not get the interface along one of the edges.  I must have tried sewing that 3 times before I gave up and took to hand-stitching.  I could have saved so much time…


3.  Interfacing sews “funny.”  I also learned that when the interfacing is face down along the feed dogs it constantly skips stitches.  I bet I could adjust the tension or switch the needle but after throwing up my hands and walking away — then walking back — I just repinned everything so that I could swap the fabric and have the interfacing face up with the sashing fabric against the feed dogs.  Good enough.  I came across this problem AGAIN when I was trying to applique some patches on the top.  Because I needed the applique pieces facing up, the interfacing at the back of the t-shirt blocks was unavoidably facing the feed dogs.  I hand stitched those too.  Twice. FIRST without properly pinning (see below) and SECOND with somewhat sufficient pinning (see below).


4.  Use a LOT of pins.  I opted out of handsewing the binding because of time constraints.  Instead, I sewing the fleece to the quilt top inside out, pulled it through and then stitched up the whole.  What I failed to do was thoroughly — and I do mean thoroughly — pin the quilt top + fleece sandwich together.  I threw a few pins in each square and thought that would be sufficient. Sigh.  It was not.  I ripped stitches along the way and did my best to encourage the fabric to fix itself.  So not perfect.


5.  Just be glad when you’re done and don’t point out the errors!  Chances are, the recipients will be happy regardless!

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3 thoughts on “Another t-shirt quilt completed: Lessons Learned

  1. What a special gift! I’ve saved many of my boys’ favorite t-shirts without a plan of what to do with them…great to see what you created.

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