My love affair with quilts and quilting began when I was around four years old. An older couple, the Turners, lived in a shotgun house at the back of my Grandmother's home. I loved visiting them. Mrs. Turner was always busy with some kind of handwork, usually piecing a quilt or quilting one on a huge frame. I decided I would make my own quilt one day and told Mrs. Turner so. But, she wouldn't let me use the scissors! She convinced me that I could make a quilt by tearing pieces of paper out of the Sears Roebuck catalog and taping them together. I was hooked. Since then, I have made many "real" quilts and collected over 100.
A few years ago, I became interested in utility quilts, especially ones made locally. While talking to several ladies about their quilts, I began to realize that the T-shirt quilts they were making were 21st century utility quilts! I myself had "tons" of old T-shirts, so I decided to try my hand at it.
I wanted the quilt to go together quickly, without having to use templates or patterns. And, I wanted this to be fun, without all the rules of piecing together a traditional quilt.
Here's what I did:
First, I let my collection of red, white, and blue t-shirts set the color scheme. Then I gathered together cotton shirts and fabric--even a couple of wool skirts--whatever I could find. After all, this was to be a utility quilt, so anything goes!
To keep the t-shirts from stretching, I ironed a stabilizer to the back and cut the prints into various large squares and rectangles.
I then played with all the pieces until I had a good idea what I wanted to do.
I decided to tilt several of the blocks by adding elongated triangles all the way around. I didn't worry about corners or the sides matching. Once I had all four sides sewn, I trimmed any excess.
I appliqued a few squares, adding fabric strips to the sides.
I love folk quilts, so I used a few of my applique patterns.
To add interest (and use up all those shirts and skirts), I tore strips of the fabrics into various widths and lengths and stitched them together into various sizes.
I began the quilt top last winter but had to store it in a closet during our busy summer and fall. The day after Christmas, I was cleaning out a closet and found my utility quilt in progress. What better time to finish it? So, I uncovered my treadle sewing machine and went to work. All the pieces were there, stacked neatly together. Now, for the fun part! I began to mix and match squares into vertical panels, filling in any gaps with fabric strips. Along the edges, I added the stripped pieces. Before I knew it, I had a quilt top finished!
I think you can now see why I call it "The Crazy Crooked T-Shirt Quilt"!
Try making one for yourself this winter. The process was a lot of fun and very easy. There's no set rules. Get rid of the rules!