I will not talk about the cold weather. I will not talk about the cold weather.
I am sure all of you are tired of seeing pictures of thermometers, shots of frozen puddles, and posts about record-breaking cold. Who knew that the words “arctic blast” and “polar vortex” could become so trendy? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love seeing the posts, and the weather has definitely been a topic of conversation for a couple of days now, and not just for the old folks who sit in rocking chairs on the front porch. Although, I doubt they are rocking this week.
So in an effort to talk about something different on Backseat Boone, I am sharing with you a blanket project that I *finally* finished today. Because you know, blankets come in handy when the temperatures are arctic-blast-worthy. (woops.)
But first, here is a little background info on this project. I have been working on this endeavor for about 16 months. Yes, I am well aware that in 16 months I could have built a house, traveled around the world, or given birth to a walrus (did you know that their gestational periods are 15 – 16 months?!). Alas, I didn’t do any of those epic things… because giving birth to a walrus is definitely epic. Instead I made a quilt. Sigh.
For those of you who don’t know, and in case it isn’t obvious based on the amount of time this project took, I am NOT a professional sewer. Sure, I can replace a button on a shirt, patch a little hole in a favorite pair of pants, and heck, I have even made a dog bed. But those are all quick and (relatively) easy projects that I can usually do in one sitting. Granted I had a lot of coffee when I sat down to make the dog bed, but I figured anything my dog is going to drool on doesn’t have to be perfect.
So this quilt was my first big sewing project, and based on the amount of time it took me to cross it off the to-do list, you can say it wasn’t the easiest thing I have ever attempted.
For a quick review, you can see where I started the project on the old blog here, here, and here, but in summary I:
- Collected t-shirts and decided which pieces I wanted to use on the quilt
- Cut the t-shirts into squares and ironed on a non-woven interfacing onto the back to stabilize the fabric and help make the t-shirt squares less stretchy and unpredictable.
- Determined the layout I wanted, and sewed my squares into row, and then sewed the rows together.
At that point I had an entire “quilt top” which basically looked like a quilt on one side, and an unfinished mess on the back. And that is where it sat, folded neatly in a canvas bag for 14 months. Sure, I thought about it every once in a while, but the whole falling in love with a fixer-upper, closing on the house, moving in, and getting emerged in dozens of huge house projects kind of kicked the little t-shirt quilt to the
backseat far corner of our upstairs storage space.
Top of the quilt
But over “Christmas break” I had some free time on my hands, and decided now was the time to get back on the sewing saddle and conquer that wild steed. (To a non-sewer a sewing machine can feel like a wild bronco.)
At first I stared at that giant not-so-perfect blanket top and thought of all the ways it could go wrong from here. Although it wasn’t a masterpiece, and the lines were a little wonky and the corners didn’t exactly meet up, it was my special blanket (well, half a blanket), and I didn’t want to screw it up. So I was cautious, yet, optimistic, going into the next steps.
I bought several yards of black quilt fabric for about $25 with a 40% off coupon from JoAnn fabric (the kind with two layers of quilted cotton with thin batting sewn between). I figured this would be better (i.e. less sewing) than getting a piece of fabric for the back and individually adding a layer of batting. I created a rectangle, a couple of inches larger on each side than my quilt top, and sewed the back together. I then ironed down all of the seams on the back of the top so they would lay flat after being bunched up in a tote bag for a year, and repeated the ironing process with the black back layer. Because no one likes bunchy seams.
Quilt back fabric
Then I took the back and the front of my quilt and faced the good sides towards each other, pinned around each edge, and used my sewing machine to stitch each side. After each completed side I would flip it back right side out to make sure nothing was going wonky or totally sideways, then flipped it back inside-out and went to the next side. It was at about this time that Henry realized how much fun making a quilt can be.
Thanks for the assistance buddy.
I continued this process (occasionally moving a cozy cat) for three of the four edges. When it came to the fourth side, I stitched a little from each side, being sure to leave a small middle portion open, so I could flip things right-side out before sewing it totally closed with the icky seams facing out. Because that is something I totally would do.
Once right-side out, I stitched the final little hole closed using a decorative stitch on my sewing machine, and boom, I had myself a happy little blanket.
I should note that I feel like the finished product is more of a quilt/blanket hybrid, because I didn’t go back and do the actual “quilt finishing.” Between my total lack of skills, and my small beginner sewing machine, I felt like attempting to quilt the the finished product would end in complete disaster, full of tears, non-lady-like language, and a huge mess of tangled thread. Granted, my finished product is sort of like a pillow sham… if you pull on the back and the quilted front, you can easily separate the whole thing out since nothing is holding them together except for the stitching around the edges. BUT, with weight of each layer, it really isn’t that big of an issue. And one day, I could always pay someone to use a big-girl sewing machine and do it for me.
My favorite part of the quilt is that I used a combination of t-shirts from both my four years at Appalachian, and Ross’s four years. Although our undergrad time at ASU overlapped by two years, we didn’t meet until grad school, so we had completely unique experiences (which gave us completely unique sets of t-shirts).
Ross’s t-shirts obviously focus on cycling,
while my t-shirts are predominately from Ambassador events and favorite football games.
I love how the quilt shows each of our pasts and how our paths criss-crossed until we were both ready to meet our future spouses (each other). Aww.
And while spending all this time locked away with the sewing machine, I have decided on my next project…. organizing the storage/hobby room.
Have you ever made a t-shirt quilt? Has there been a project you thought you could never complete?