Category Archives: The Great T-Shirt Memory Quilt Challenge

I say “Yes!”

‘Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no.’
James 5:12b 

I have been on a hiatus because I gave a resounding ‘Yes!” to family, friends and work commitments during the past few weeks. I am living what I preach to my children. When you say “yes”, give your whole self to the person or project, holding nothing back. If you can’t, then you need to say ‘no’.

During the past weeks, I finished sewing and delivered the great t-shirt memory quilt (see notes below) to my niece for her graduation from high school.

I traveled back to North Dakota to be present for another niece’s graduation open house. Then… I survived the end of my school work year, a recall election in Wisconsin, moving our son to a new home, our granddaughter turning two, and many retirements and support for dear friends.

This past weekend I came to the end of my commitments. On Saturday night, I walked out of my sister’s home and saw this view from her front porch

I held my hands up to the sky and rejoiced. Then, I called to my family so they could share this awesome spectacle. Beautiful.

When life gets busy, I carve time in nature for comfort. A long walk. Sitting outside to soak up the sounds of wind, water and wildlife. Time to kneel down, give thanks and garden.

I am so thankful. I am so blessed.


So, how did I make the T-Shirt Quilt?

  1. To make this full size quilt, you need between 35 to 45 t-shirts
  2. I went to the public library and checked out the book How To Make a Too Cool T-Shirt Quilt. I also visited the authors website. The book has a few template examples as well as providing directions for designing your own. I went with a ready-made template that was in the book. I took a picture of the template with my iPad and referred to it multiple times as I was making the quilt.
  3. I cut out my blocks (4- 16 1/2 by 16 1/2; 8- 16 1/2 by 12 1/2; 3- 16 1/2 by 8 1/2; 4- 12 1/2 by 16 1/2; 7- 12 1/2 by 12 1/2; 2- 8 1/2 by 8 1/2; 1- 8 1/2 by 12 1/2; 2- 8 1/2 by 4 1/2; and 7- 4 1/2 by 4 1/2)
  4. I arranged my blocks until I found a color combination that was pleasing, then I took a picture of my arrangement with my iPad so I wouldn’t forget my layout.
  5. I purchased French Fuse to back each t-shirt section to reduce stretching. I cut and ironed the fuse onto each block.
  6. I sewed the blocks together following a diagram from the How To Make a Too Cool T-Shirt Quilt book.
  7. I purchased a flat twin size sheet (red), cotton batting and basted my quilt top, batting and backing together.
  8. I machine quilted around each individual block. It was a little tricky. In addition to the basting, I pinned each section as I sewed.
  9. I made a binding from scrap material I had on hand and bound the edges.
  10. Then I whip stitched the binding to the back as I watched many old movies.

For more information on how I started this project, see my blog posts for the Great T-Shirt Memory Quilt Challenge Week OneWeek Two,  Week Three and Weeks Four and Five.  After week five, I took a break (for many, many months) and when I started it again, I didn’t blog about it until I this post. Happy sewing.


The Great T-Shirt Memory Quilt Challenge – Weeks Four and Five

The challenge: To construct a T-shirt memory quilt for my niece
for her high school graduation

I am beginning to wonder if I started my niece’s T-shirt quilt too early. Since she is not graduating until May I don’t feel the pressure that usually makes me productive. Blogging about this project has helped me start sewing again and has brought me face to face with unfinished projects. Instead of setting them aside I have been completing them as I clear my sewing area.

Finally turning away from these distractions I spent time reading the book How to Make a Too Cool T-Shirt Quilt. Deciding I was never going to learn enough to be comfortable I started cutting up T-shirts. Stressful! With so many different sized blocks in this quilt, numbers have been whirling in my head day and night. And some anxiety. What if I get the dimensions wrong? What if I make an error cutting a shirt? All this uncertainty caused me to flee the project every day after only a few minutes of work.

Today, I decided it was time to get serious and relied on a tried and true companion for times of angst. I cranked up some good old rock and roll and got busy. About 20 minutes into my cutting, just when my tension was reaching a peak, Three Dog Night came on the internet station with Shambala.

Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain
With the rain in Shambala
Wash away my sorrow, wash away my shame
With the rain in Shambala
Ah, ooh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

I put down my rotary cutter and danced around the room expelling negative energy and releasing some healthy endorphins. Luckily, no one was home so I could groove with abandon. With my mood improved I returned to the cutting table with energy. Hallelujah!

While not finished cutting, I am more than halfway done and gaining confidence with each cut. So my accomplishments for weeks 4 and 5 of the great T-Shirt Memory Quilt challenge are:
  1. I read the book How to Make a Too Cool T-Shirt Quilt by Andrea T. Funk.
  2. I finished sewing a hat and vest for my granddaughter.
  3. I cut 18 blocks for my T-shirt quilt.
  4. I am arranging the blocks on the family room floor…hope nobody wants to use that room.
  5. Pohey is a stressful project. Since I can only handle so much stress Pohey remains on the To Do list. (Don’t worry Brie… I am blogging about Pohey so I will have to eventually finish repairing your baby quilt.)
If you want to keep up with my weekly progress, see Week OneWeek Two and Week Three.

The Great T-Shirt Memory Quilt Challenge – Week Three

The challenge: To construct a T-shirt memory quilt for my niece
for her high school graduation

I don’t know if you ever saw the Disney Pixar movie UP, but I definitely relate with Dug the dog. He is distractible and so am I. Dug will notice a squirrel and all thought flies from his mind as he turns and shouts “Squirrel!”

Every time I start working on the quilt something catches my attention and all of a sudden I am doing something else. I went to the fabric store early in the week to purchase Pellon #906F fusible interfacing. A wonderful clerk talked me into purchasing french fuse interfacing. “Squirrel!” So… instead of spending $9 for my Pellon interfacing I spent $17.99 for French Fuse. I sure hope it is a better performer.

I brought my interfacing home and went right to work. As I was removing an unfinished project from my sewing table I was drawn to my sewing machine and before I knew it, I was sewing something that had sat dormant for 8 long months. “Squirrel!”

This past weekend I completed the unfinished project, a rag centerpiece quilt. Today I gifted it to a friend for her birthday.

I returned to work on the memory quilt. After pondering the project for a few moments I decided I need a little more help so I went on the web to my local library and requested the book How to Make a Too Cool T-Shirt Quilt by Andrea T. Funk. “Squirrel!”

The next day I stopped at the library and checked out the book. It is not due until November 16th, so I have some time yet to figure out what in the heck I am doing!

So my accomplishments for week 3 of the great T-Shirt Memory Quilt challenge are:
  1. I purchased 2 yards of French Fuse interfacing from a very engaging clerk.
  2. I have borrowed the book How to Make a Too Cool T-Shirt Quilt by Andrea T. Funk from my local library.
  3. I finished a rag centerpiece quilt.
  4. Sadly, Pohey remains in the bin for at least another week.

If you want to keep up with my weekly progress, see Week One and Week Two.


To make this rag quilt centerpiece:

  1. Cut two 10-inch blocks of fabric and one 9-inch blocks of cotton batting (for the center square)
  2. Cut twenty-four 5 1/2-inch blocks of fabric and twelve 4 1/2 inch blocks of batting (for the small squares)
  3. Center a square of batting between two squares of a matching cotton print (wrong sides together)
  4. Top stitch an “X” on each block going from corner to corner, creating 1 large and 12 small squares
  5. Arrange squares into a pleasing design
  6. Sew the blocks together into strips with a 1/2″ seam allowance
  7. Sew each strip together with 1/2″ seams
  8. To create the rag effect, snip each seam at 1/2” intervals to within 1/8” of all seams being careful not cut into the stitching
  9. Bind edge with a binding (Heather Bailey’s Quilt Binding Directions are wonderful)

To rag your quilt, wash the quilt in warm water and detergent. It is important to shake the quilt before drying to shake off loose strings. Dry, with no dryer sheet, making sure to clean the lint trap once or twice during drying. Once dry, repeat with a second wash and dry this time with dryer sheets. Remember to clean the lint trap half way through.

The Great T-Shirt Memory Quilt Challenge – Week Two

The challenge: To construct a T-shirt memory quilt for my niece
for her high school graduation

This was a tough week for the Great T-Shirt Memory Quilt Challenge. The good news…I thought about the quilt a lot. The bad news…that is all I did.

In my defense:

  • 6 of the 7 days I was traveling for work or working;
  • 4 of the 7 nights I was out of town;
  • 2 of the 7 days I had company;
  • Any spare time I had this week was used to clean the house, cook, blog, entertain company or just try to recharge for the next day.
This week I did get to visit a pumpkin patch.
I did get to golf.
And I did think about the T-Shirt quilt. So my accomplishments for week 2 of the great T-Shirt Memory Quilt challenge are:
  1. I researched the best quilt size for a T-Shirt quilt and decided I will make a lap size quilt (54″ by 72″) or a double size quilt (72″ by 90″). It takes about 25 shirts to make a full size quilt. Since I have 42 T shirts I have enough for my project.
  2. I now know I need to purchase fusible interfacing to back each shirt block to prevent my blocks from stretching. I plan to purchase Pellon #906F interfacing. I still have to figure how many yards to purchase.
  3. Pohey continues to reside in the bin waiting for me to think about setting it free

If you want to keep up with my weekly progress, please see Week One.

The Great T-Shirt Memory Quilt Challenge – Week One

The challenge: To construct a T-shirt memory quilt for my niece
for her high school graduation

My niece is graduating in May 2012 and I promised I would transform her t-shirts and jerseys into a memory quilt. I am a chronic project starter/non-finisher so I am blogging about my weekly progress to keep myself accountable. I know I can make the quilt. I am unclear if I can actually complete it.

Why you ask? Another niece gave me her very much loved baby quilt a few years ago to mend. Pohey, the quilt’s name, arrived in tatters and pieces which I painstakingly tried to reconstruct. It was precision work and stressful. The other day I opened a bin and her partially repaired quilt stared back at me. I slammed the lid shut and said to myself, “I thought I had finished that!” Oh the guilt.

And now I start another project. Week one of the great t-shirt memory quilt challenge did not start auspiciously. I opened the box of my niece’s shirts and quickly became overwhelmed by the number and variety of choices. Pressing on I pulled out one neatly folded shirt after another and tried to envision a quilt design. I spent five minutes going through the first few layers then stepped back and looked at the mess.

I am pretty sure I felt a small popping in my brain similar to a circuit overload. I crammed the shirts back into the box, closed the lid and moved the box into a closet. Out of site, out of mind. I then left the house and went for a walk. I was in big trouble. I couldn’t even make it through the initial sorting of shirts. After pondering my initial reaction, I realized I needed to find out what my niece liked and did not like before I could envision what to do with the 42 shirts in the box.

I saw my niece this weekend and forced her to look at images of t-shirt quilts on the web. She showed me four designs she liked and I feel I will be able to make something similar. I am hoping that I will have the will and find a way to make this quilt.

So my accomplishments for week 1 of the great t-shirt memory challenge are:

  1. I have a pile of shirts in a box in a closet.
  2. I have an idea of the type of quilt my niece would like.
  3. Pohey is still in the bin wondering when I will return to finish it and set it free.