Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Crazy Crooked T-Shirt Quilt

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! 

This post is Linked to:
Make It Great Monday @ Etcetorize 
Motivated Monthly @ Etcetorize 
Check it out!


Betty said...

This quilt is so much more interesting than others I've seen. I like it.

Etcetorize said...

What a wonderful recycle. I have to say I also like Mrs. Turner's intro to quilting for you. I might have to use that with a little one I know. I'm so glad you shared this at the Make it Great party, you could also share at the new Motivated Monthly theme party. These month's theme is recycled projects. Check it out (

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