A king size tshirt quilt for Chris

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I’m still working my way though final posts about quilts I’ve made over the past couple years. This quilt I finished last year. It is still talked about!

Chris Lema contacted me about my t-shirt quilts and asked a hard question. He only had 14 shirts. Could he get a king size? The shirts were XL to XXL and all from the same WordPress hosting company.

Could I even get a king size quilt top from only 14 shirts? I did some quick calculations, gulped, and said “Sure!”


Such a tiny box on arrival, compared to some.

This would be one of the first t-shirt quilts where I used some of the plain leftover pieces from the backs and sides and sleeves to help make up the fabric needed to bring the quilt up to size. Since I made this quilt, I’ve done this on almost every one.

As I went through the shirts, I made sure to cut the largest pieces possible from each one – including blank blocks. There were not a whole lot of scraps left.

Then it came time to arrange the blocks like a puzzle for the final layout. In quilting, we are often told for blocks you don’t like or ones you wish to de-emphasize, put them around the edges.  In this case, I clustered the printed shirts in the middle for best display and made sure the blank blocks were along the edges. The plan was to treat the blank blocks as a single area of negative space and fill it with the same quilting.


Once I had that sorted, in my head and on the floor,  I checked in with Chris about design options. He said the scariest thing I think I might have ever heard.

“Do what you like, I trust you.”

Big gulp. o.O For anyone who has clients of any kind, this can be simultaneously the best and worst thing ever. Yay! We get full control and free reign!  And then… what if they don’t like it? What if this is not what they imagined?

After I talked myself down off the ledge, I realized he would not have entrusted me to make him a quilt if he didn’t 100% love my work. So with that in mind, I strove to make it as excellent as I knew how. Knowing Chris though my regular day job, he strives for excellence in all things and has high standards. Not 100% perfection, but excellence.


With that in mind, as I worked on the quilt top I thought about the quilt back. The shirt were all from WPEngine, which has a distinctive blue as their main branding color. The first problem was the printing process on the shirts were all different so the blues are all slightly different.  Then I had an idea – I would get the official color right from their website!

Sometimes being a computer nerd is pretty handy.

Then I used a site to convert hex color codes to the matching fabric from various brands. Voila!  I ordered ten yards of Kona cotton in Breakers, because it is indeed the best out there. (sorry, could not find the site again 🙁  )


When the top was all sewn together, I had to move furniture to lay it out.


And the basting went on forEVER! This was only the second King size quilt I had made.





Finally, we get to the fun part – the quilting! Again, for each shirt I picked a design to complement the shirt itself. This often requires more thinking and staring than actual quilt time.



Sometimes if I get stuck, I’ll do graffiti quilting – little bit of everything in there.


I did choose to use matching blue thread for the quilting, so it would match the back but highlight the stitching on the front. All the shirts were black, grey or white. The blue was a unifier.


When I got to the larger blocks, all I did was draw with chalk the spine of the feathers so they swooped and swirled around the outside of the quilt, framing the inner blocks. The bumpy bits are all freehand.


Near the middle top, I had a spot that dipped down a bit, so I filled it with this medallion. Fun fact: to place this section in my machine for stitching, I had to quilt it upside down and sideways.


Here’s another feather swooping around the corner.


The back view really highlights all the various stitching.


In the end, I had maybe barely half a yard of blue fabric left, half a spool out of four spools of thread, and the box of pins were all the ones used for basting.

I used the same fabric for binding the quilt edges, as a nice frame. I even added a sleeve at the top so they had the option to hang  the quilt on a rod if they chose to display it.

On a sunny day, right after washing and drying and careful inspection for any hanging threads or missed spots, I hung it on my clothesline for some final shots to send to Chris before mailing.




So big!


Chris LOVES his quilt so much! I still see it mentioned on twitter, so I figured I’d finally do the long awaited write up.

As my own worst critic, I’m still pretty happy with how this quilt turned out.

Time spent:
– box arrived in February
– fabric ordered in February
– cut & pieced in March
– quilted in April / May over weekends. I did not count all the hours but there was a good 16 hrs of just quilting.
– shipped and received in mid to late May
– smiles: forever

Pinwheel baby quilt

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Sometime last year I did a quick and easy throw quilt from Tula Pink’s Elizabeth fabrics and very large rectangle snowball blocks. No pictures or write up yet though, sorry.

But! The triangle bits cut off the corners were plentiful and quite large. Enough to make a baby quilt for sure. I sewed up each corner as I cut them off – working on two quilts at once – and played around a bit with layout.

Still need cornerstone dashing on the sides, but this baby quilt top from scraps is almost done. #quilting

Pinwheels are pretty straightforward, so to liven up the boredom, I also added sashing with cornerstone blocks from more scraps. The white sashing itself was from my white scrap bin too.

I swear, this fabric is going to live on forever… I also have a runner from more scraps from the same project.

All done! It's about 38" square, baby quilt sized. Gonna sell it so if you want it holler. Ready in January.

I posted a picture of the completed top and Kathy contacted me to claim it for her granddaughter. Fun! Anything for a fellow member of the cool grandma club.

For the quilting, I wanted it to be nice and custom and pretty and basically what I call quilting the heck out of it. But first, I stitched in the ditch around each block. Technically I could have left it there, it was secure enough. But you know me!Today's project. Some might think this is done or they may stop here. I ditched along the seams in all directions for stability for the next steps. After lunch I'm gonna quilt the hell out of this and you can see the difference. ?

I wanted to challenge myself as well, and time it so I could see how long it took for me to quilt when focused.

The sashing has back and forth lines, sometimes called switchbacks.

Each cornerstone has “bumps” – a curved line that goes from corner to corner.

The pinwheels also have bumps in each triangle, but with them all together almost form a flower. It only took a couple of blocks to figure out the best way to travel with the least amount of back tracking.

An hour and twenty five minutes. That's how long this took me to quilt. This includes changing the needle that was giving me issues and stopping to wind 3 more bobbins. Yep, I quilt fast.

Did I mention I hate breaking threads? Most of the quilting here is done all in one go, save for bobbin changes.

The small border around the outside, same width as the sashing, is done in half feather bumps, just to soften the look a bit. I had trimmed the quit after the first step of straight quilting, and by the time I got to the borders was kicking myself. Some places I was holding on with my fingertips!


Super happy with those corner turns too.

So, time spent doing the initial straight quilting was 20 minutes. I stopped for lunch, swapped out the walking foot for the FMQ foot and went at it, knowing what to do for each section. I quilt fast and at top speed. Time spent for the custom work? An hour and a half. Maybe an hour and 20 mins.

Then it was on to the fabric choices for binding. I sent Kathy a picture with options.


She picked the green stripes. Perfect! I cut it on the bias, because bias striping is always a great choice.


The finished quilt.


All this puckered crinkly goodness is after washing. It already looks like a family heirloom!

Have a look at the back.


When the quilt arrived at Kathy’s place she said the same thing my mom always says. “The pictures don’t do it justice!”  😀

Houndstooth Quilt in black and white

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A few months ago, Susan contacted me about making a houndstooth quilt, just for her. She was pleasantly surprised to find the finally price was all inclusive. She didn’t have to pay extra for the pattern, the fabric or even the shipping.

I used this houndstooth quilt pattern, as it has multiple sizes included and supports a smaller indie designer. Since I would be making a queen size and thus using 12 yards of just the white fabric (since it is backed in white as well) I waited till my local fabric chain had a 50% off members-only sale on their quilt cottons. Their premium cotton is super soft and I’m pretty happy with it.

When starting with a new pattern, I often cut just a few of the first pieces and not everything at once. So I cut a few strips and squares first to get the hang of it.


Once I was happy with the process, including any starching and pressing processes, then it was on to cutting many many more strips.


And lots of blocks.


Testing the layout with what I had thus far. Looking good! This is gonna be huge.


Once I have it down, I chain piece and basically get into a groove of production sewing and wind up with stacks and stacks of blocks, all at the same step. Sewing, then cutting the strips.


But then I have to press them.  Thank God for Netflix and my ipad stand.


Then it was on to the block units. Lots of double checking everything is going the right way. I stack and pile, then sew.


After the blocks, it’s time to do the rows.


And admire the seams. Look at those nested seams – LOOK AT THEM.

So I bet you’re thinking this might be pretty boring or monotonous sewing, but I find this is really good low-stress, especially when you’re organized or tired. Then it’s pretty mindless. You can also focus on cutting or sewing accuracy too! I still had some pretty inconsistent seams but only had to fully repair one. So I thought that was pretty good overall.


Another layout check on the floor to see if I mis-counted. I’d rather cut too little than way too much.


WHEW! Finally the top was done. I pieced the backing, got the batting ready (50/50 warm & white), pressed everything all over again, layered and basted.

So many pins. o.O  I think it took an hour to baste, but again – Netfix to the rescue and my handy Kwik Klip basting tool.


Then it was time for quilting. Yes, I can do queen sized on my domestic machine. I did all the diagonal seams first with the walking foot, right in the ditch. I switched to the FMQ foot to go around the pointy bits the other way – the “ears” of the teeth if you will. Some parts I used rulers to go straight but eventually ditched that for speed. There’s a few wobbly bits but only if you look really close. 😉

I use a combination of rolling and smushing, because I find the rolling is sometimes not flexible enough. I did the quilting over two days and yes, my shoulders were a bit sore after.


I prepped miles of binding and wrapped it around a spool. Okay, not miles, but something like 400″.


Finally! All done and then tossed it on my bed for modelling. A quick run through the washer and dryer then I look it all over for weak seams, hanging threads, etc.. do any trimming or fixing up, sew on a label and off it goes. Susan is SUPER HAPPY with it too.

I would definitely make one of these again. All told, this took 3-4 months but that was also over the holidays.

A WordPress t-shirt quilt for James

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A while back, my friend Mason (owner of WP Valet) contacted me about making a quilt for one of his employees, James. Mason surreptitiously gathered as many tshirts as he could that he knew James also had. Then he secretly shipped them off to me.

We had decided on a queen size, which is why So Many Shirts! o.O I think there was around 30. I tend to fill in any needed space with blanks blocks to show off more quilting.

So, after I did the initial trimming of the shirts and cutting the largest size blocks from all of them, I started to lay them out on the floor for the best design. This is even after I do some math on paper to figure out completed size and square inches based on the pieces cut.


Even though I have a fairly large living /dining room, a queen size quilt takes up a LOT of floor space.  Some blanks spaces were left so I could figure out where to add solid blocks from tshirt backs.


Aha! A quadrant I can live with, and the solid areas filled in. Nothing is sewn together here. The challenge after that was getting the pieces off the floor and downstairs to me sewing room AND keeping things in the right order. That is why I take plenty of pictures.

Sometimes I pin sections together and take a small section at a time.


Finally! The top is all sewn together. Still takes up a TON of floor space.


Every quilt need a backing, so in this case I found this fantastic bright blue that just about matched WP Valet’s branding. That black strip down the middle? Makes a great artistic statement and breaks things up.

Or, it might be there to make the backing a bit wider. I’ll never tell.


On the basting.. layering the backing, batting, and top then pinning together with a bajillion little pins. My knees. Ow, my knees.

But then! Finally we get to the FUN part! The actual quilting. For quilts like these, I initially do some “stitch in the ditch” along the seams wth my walking foot to stabilize sections of the quilt. I tend to jump around by thread color, and not work completely from the middle out. I used a blue thread in the bobbin, and various colors of threads in the top needle.


I got a new book of free motion quilting designs and tried a new one on almost every other block.


Solid blocks sometimes get special treatment, where I can get fancy and do graffitti quilting like this.


Sometimes it’s a challenge coming up with a quilting design that compliments the theme of the shirt, but also doesn’t blend into the block next to it. If I do something round and swirling on one block, I may pick something very square or linear for the next one. I might even pull a design element from the print and repeat it in the background.


And sometimes I see blocks and think.. what if I tried this design? And sometimes it winds up super cool, like birds in the wind.


Sometimes all a block needs is something simple – like vertical lines. But it fits. I did use a quilt ruler here to get the lines SUPER STRAIGHT. I’m new to ruler work, but I like it. I followed the angles of the lightening bolts and just extended while outlining the cloud. The W logo is also outlined.


And sometimes I wing it. Warning: this is not a perfect block! GASP! And I left it anyway. 🙂 Most designs are freehand with no marking. For this I think I outlined the heart shape in chalk first. I was trying a feather ruler. I think I’d rather do feathers freehand.


Finally, I got it finished – just in time!


The front is one thing – but the BACK. Well, the back really shows things off. Especially after  I wash and dry it so everything crinkles.


Told you that black stripe was a great design idea… 😉


When I have a few solid blocks near each other, I treat that section as one block of negative space and fill it with feathers. I love feathers. Big swooping swirling feathers. I only marked the spine and did the rest freehand.


This was from a baseball tee. I thought it would be interesting to include this as a block because everything else is so square but now there’s this one diagonal line.

Plus I got to try curved cross hatching with a ruler.

This quilt was a surprise, so I couldn’t post any progress pictures on social media. It almost killed me. (not really, but that was the hardest part) So, I finally get to post All The Pictures here.


I mailed it off to Florida, and Mason gave it to James who was SUPER HAPPY about it. They unveiled it at WordCamp USA in Philly and laid it out on the conference floor. Plenty of space there!

Lots of people came up to look and ask questions. I was amazed so many non-quilters were interested in the construction and stitching details.

And since her class has been so helpful, a link up with Amy!

Amy's Free Motion Monday Quilting Adventures

Butterfly quilt

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I took on a quilting job that was not for my mom. One of my remote co-workers had seen pictures of my quilts and loved them. She was working on a baby quilt of her own and was not happy with the quilting she had started.

So, she asked if I would quilt it for her – for PAY even!


This is how the quilt arrived – basted and some preliminary lines done. She said she wasn’t sure she liked what she had already done, so if I had other ideas, it was totally okay to take them out if I wanted.


So I did. Honestly, this was the bulk of the work.


I pressed the top and the backing quite throughly and basted it again to new batting, replacing the 100% poly with a 50/50 blend.


And boy howdy did I have ideas! I thought it would be best to have Mctavishing in the white blocks, and a feathery design on the pink triangles.

I settled on a heart & feather combo. I did use a template for this and stitched over tracing paper to have a design to follow.

I did also stitch in the ditch on the seam lines, but only the pink ones – not inner ones on white blocks. These were mostly diagonal and just to divide the quilt into sections for quilting.


Back view – you can see I just went around the butterflies and left them unquilted.


The finished quilt! I machine bound it with strips cut off the backing when I trimmed it after quilting.


Here’s a close up of the crinkly goodness after I washed and dried it. I always do this for quilts I know that will be used.


Overall back view.

When Corinne received her quilt back in the mail she was SO HAPPY.