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

Scrapper’s Delight

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I’d like to say I started this quilt after I sorted my scraps, but no – I did this while sorting because the thrill of discovering long lost bits of favourite fabrics was a big draw.

I got Sunday Morning Quilts a few months ago and love every other one in the book, so given I found so many strips and squares, it was only natural I start a Scrapper’s Delight.

While sewing, I also watched the entirely of Rosemary and Thyme on Netflix, so there’s double duty tasks for you.

Snippets, the smallest I'll use.

And this is the part where I have to admit even more to being super obsessive about my scrap sorting. I set aside the smaller blocks (under 2.5″) that I would use for the middles, and and odd sized widths of strips (basically not 2.5″ and not less than 1″).

Scrappy sewing organization.

While sewing, I also resorted some of the smaller piles of strips and blocks by *length* as well. This way, when I sewed my smaller blocks together and need a strip to sew alongside, I could lay the block next to a variety of strips and find one closest to the size I needed. Sure, I could trim any piece, but the aim here was to not make even more scraps.

Scrapper's delight quilt blocks. I'd like to say this made a dent, but...

It also really helped me to choose truly random bits of fabrics for an even more scrappy look and not being drawn to ones that would match or co-ordinate too much. The only ones I would full out discount was ones that were the same prints in different colorways, or ones too similar in color.

I chain piece a lot, so I would do at least 4 blocks at a time, sewing a new strip to each one, pressing those, then choosing a new piece for the next side. All those blocks and I only had to use my seam ripper once.
And a few more blocks started. I want to keep going but I want to go see my grand babies too. They win :)

The only other issue I have is I tend to get wobbly when flipping and pressing, so some blocks wound up a bit wonky without straight lines. This works in a quilt like this – not so much when you’re going for accuracy. Then again, I know I also threw caution to the wind and tossed in some strip I know were not cut straight, especially when I saw my pressing issues.

Not the final layout, but here's my scrappy progress.  Loving this quilt. Will likely make two.

In a quilt like this it’s also fun to lay the blocks out and try different patterns. I’ll probably stick to the layout in the book though.

The other things that struck me was the segment of quilts (usually older ones, more traditional) that don’t save scraps, don’t make scrap quilts and even turn their nose up at scraps, disposing of them entirely.

So many scrappy quilt blocks.

I mean – there’s a LOT of fabric in this quilt. This stack of blocks is heavy.

I was planning on making maybe even two of this quilt if I had enough scraps (not quite) and selling one. In all my posting progress on Instagram, a friend called dibs on it and will buy it when completed, so it’s now spoken for. I just have to have it finished by Christmas with time to mail to Alabama. 😉

Likely it will be stippling all over, nothing fancy. It’s a big quilt, definitely bed sized. Those blocks finish at 12″.

Scrapper's delight quilt top. Bed sized by the time I finish.

More Rock Candy quilt table toppers and Hex n more ruler

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I have been on fire this week with piecing and quilting – all small projects and of course new ones.

I decided to try out the Rocky Candy pattern using a scrap I had forever that was a gradient solid. I just cut strips I needed, then the diamonds from that. The triangles and borders I purposely cut from the darker end of the fabric. This was a really wide strip too, about 60″ long. No idea where it came from.

So I kinda pieced the #rockcandyquilt table topper today. Fabric is some gradient blue strip I had from somewhere.

After the piecing, I got inspired by the quilting on the cover (done by Angela Walters, naturally) and since it had been a while, I went to town on it to get back into the groove, I used a gradient grey thread I had. I wanted the quilting to be noticed.

Quilted and ready to finish binding.

Some more of the leftover strip for the binding. I was actually pretty impressed with how it turned out.

For the second one, I had set aside some blue fat quarters that were wintery or Christmassy. I had a specific idea in mind for how I would lay out the fabrics and cut out different amounts of the diamonds accordingly.

Same #rockcandyquilt pattern different fabrics and arrangement.

Then it was just a matter of making sure I sewed them together according to the layout I wanted.

Another #rockcandyquilt topper for Still Winter.

While I was playing around with these, I realized that the pointy end of each triangle piece of the table topper was similar to the Hex N More ruler. I bet Julie did that on purpose. 😉

I quickly came up with an idea for a table topper using the largest gem size and picked out some rainbow solids.

Now with borders! Somehow I stretched the seams so it won't lay flat and it's cut the border first time and well...

Sorry for the very poor yellow – I’m really low on yellow in my stash since I use so much and I’m trying not to buy too much fabric. And for the background and border, I had mis-cut one of the strips too narrow so I had to cut them all down because I was out of this black fabric. (again, a scrap pice. I have a HUGE stash of scraps.)

When I looked at the image after I posted it online, I realized two gems made a heart shape, so I had another idea and pulled some pink fabrics, which I am also short on. I’ the mom of three girls and have 3 granddaughters – I’m always running out of pink fabrics.

The two gems looked like hearts so I had to try this.

I think I’ll write up a free tutorial for the gem topper if there is interest.

Summer quilt

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I made a summer quilt and started last summer, but that’s not why it’s called a summer quilt. A summer quilt is a quilt with either lightweight or (in this case) no batting.

I decided to make a large queen sized lightweight quilt for our bed for those times we just needed something to nap under, or for not very cold nights. Also, I had a lot of light to medium value floral fabrics in my stash that I wanted to use up. My mom had hit a sale at a fabric store that was closing and bought half-yards of seemingly everything.

Going though my stash, I picked the fabrics I wanted and cut 10″ squares out of everything. In my case, I did not care if I had doubles or even 3 or 4 squares of the same fabrics – I just wanted to use them up. You could also use a layer cake or two instead.

I cut and cut and cut. And stacked.

Eventually I decided to start laying things out to figure how many squares I would need. I cut some more.

For this quilt, I decided it would be more interesting to place the 10″ squares on point and piece the strips diagonally. I also laid out the squares on the floor multiple times to make sure I didn’t have matching fabrics too close together, or all the pink ones crammed on one side.

Finally I started piecing, which was easy enough. Keep track of where I was seemed to be the issue. For the half triangle on the sides, i just cut the 10″ squares in half. Technically they should have been a bit bigger so I fudged the seams a little. I also took one square and cut it into the four corner triangles.

When the top was all done, I found a nice and worn flannel top sheet in our cupboard. We had already worn out the matching bottom sheet, which got a large hole when someone put their foot through it. It was a well-loved set. I did have to unpick the top deep hem of the sheet and piece a bit on the side, since the sheet was rectangular and the quilt top was square.

Since there was no batting, it did not take much to baste it together.

The only quilting I did was a stitch in the ditch along the seams. You can get away with doing it this wide because there is no batting at all. I used my walking foot and the quilt was thin enough that rolling it up and moving it around was much easier than even a double sized quilt with batting.

For the binding, I had cut out 2.5″ strips from my favourite scraps as I cut the blocks and set them aside. I did the machine sewn method where you stitch the binding to the back and pull it round to the front and sew it down. Any slightly off seams were also covered up this way.

This is really a quick quilt – despite how long it took me to finish, and it really is great for when you don’t want a blanket that is to warm or too heavy. Plus it uses up a LOT of large stash pieces in a hurry!

My husband gives it two thumbs up – both for fabric selection and ease of napping.

Appliqued baby name quilt

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When I heard I was going to be a grandmother for the third time in four years, well of course my first thought was what quilt I was going to make.

Okay, maybe that was my second thought.

After I made this baby quilt, I figured you would love to have this free baby quilt pattern. It was super fast and easy to make.

I had a yard or two of a lovely fabric with dancing bunnies in pretty pastel Easter gowns. It was perfect after we knew we would be expecting another girl. I pulled some somewhat matching tiny prints for the letters for the front of the quilt.

baby quilt letter placement

For the front piece of the baby quilt, I used about a yard of a tone on tone off-white print. It’s about 30-36″ by the 42″ width of the fabric. Then I cut the letters freehand from the fat quarters I had chosen to complement the print on the back.

The letters could also be done with a large thick font. My size was about as big as a regular sheet of printer paper, so you could draw them out on paper first and then cut them from the fabric.

It would be smarter as well, to fuse some fusible web to the back of the fabric before cutting out the letters. I didn’t, and it made my work a bit harder.

Also if you have a name with a lot more letters, you will need to make the letters smaller so they all fit. If you’re not sure, do a test with paper letters first.

baby quilt testing fabric placement


You can see here how I didn’t like the original fabric for the letter A and swapped it for a yellow instead.

fusing letters in place on baby quilt


Here’s the quilt on my design board with the letters pinned in place to test placement. You can go vertically in a straight line – mark a guide line if you like – or go all funky and wonky.

Fuse the letters in place. This is mostly to hold them down before appliquéing.  I used a blanket stitch that came on my Bernina Aurora 440 Quilter’s Edition. A zig zag will also work perfectly fine.

back of baby quilt


Baste the top and bottom together with your favourite batting and quilt away! I used an allover paisley design, and went around the letters entirely, adjusting the design to fit. This is great practise for any allover design you want to try. And a baby quilt is a great size to practise on.

I also used a pretty Sulky variegated thread in pink / green / yellow. It matched perfectly.

easy fast baby quilt


You can see here how puffy the letters look. The only thing I would do different now is to outline quilt the letters.



I bound the quilt in a jade green dot that was actually from a line of Christmas fabric. It works though!

I always pre-wash my quilt, so after coming out of the washer and dryer, the cotton fabrics and cotton batting crinkled up so nicely. It looks like a family heirloom already.

This is a super easy and fast quilt to through together. Just make sure the parents don’t change the name before birth, if you are making one ahead of time. 😉

Colorblock quilt progress

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I forgot to post this sooner, sorry. With the Colorblock quilt, I had a hard time deciding what to quilt. I defaulted to what the pattern samples show and what most people did, at least according to all the pics I found.

Straight lines.

Straight line quilting

It’s boring but it works. Up and down on the tall strip and back and forth on the horizontal blocks.

Funnily enough, when I did mark these, the width of my chalk was just enough to make the lines slightly over 1″ apart and a little off by the time I get to the other side of the block. But the recipient won’t care. 😉

And yes I did mark these and not use a guide or eyeball it.

More quilting progress and how to get out of a boo boo

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So I’ve worked on Kaytlyn’s quilt a few more times, after I unpicked the last screw up and worked on something else instead. Here’s what that same block looks like now, all done properly.

I went swimmingly, until I flipped the quilt over and realized I made yet another boo boo. But this one was more recoverable and did not involved taking out stitches. It turns out if you are near the edge and don’t pay attention to the backing fabric, you get this:

It flips over and you wind up quilting it. Uh-oh. But then you just find your tiny scissors, turns on some bright lights, get comfy and snip the fabric off from around the stitching. Like this:

Any of those stray threads will wash right out. I always try and wash my quilts before I send them off. This way I know they will hold up for the user and if anything comes undone (it happens) then I have a chance to fix it.

I also figured out how to quilts the skinny blocks and thanks to some advice from Angela Walters, decided *not* to quilt the hot pink sashing. It looks SO much better leaving it unquilted. It really does help frame the blocks, don’t you think?

Here’s the back, where you can see the effect really well.

In the skinnier blocks I decided to do a loop-de-loo, or a bunch of Laverne L’s. Sometimes when doing these bits I hummed the Laverne and Shirley theme song because I am a dork like that.

Two more big rows to go! I have to draw out the feathers on these ones, since I’m doing them all in the same direction and they are basically upside down because of the way I have to feed it through my machine.

Quilts on the go

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I cut out a whole pile of new quilts recently, so I’d better list the ones in progress.

Jitterbug – 30’s prints from jelly roll book. Currently away as I’m taking a break
Christmas Cross – Ron & I picked it out. Blocks almost done.
Green/pink/brown/blue – jelly roll I finally figured out what to do with. kinda Trip Around the world. Maybe 1/4 done, if that. Lots of tiny squares.
Blue & Yellow bento box – all blocks done. need to lay out & put together.
yellow/pink/orange – yes, this one is really bright. crazy eights pattern, which works up really fast.
green/brown/red – Picture this, large blocks and I cut out enough for a queen sized bed because I am insane and it used up a lot of fabric. still have a lot left tho.

edit: forgot the red/black/brown one – this was a brick pattern, but I pieced the big rectangles in a long strip to cut it up smaller, and like the big pieces too much. the fabric is pretty, so it will be 3 or 4 rows of HUGE rectangles instead of 24 rows of tiny ones.

This doesn’t count all the finished tops waiting for quilting. I need batting.