Friday, January 6, 2012

I Made a T-Shirt Quilt ... and all I got was this crappy photo

1842140790e8__1325905441000 by twicethesky
Okay, well, and some cash. :)

I was asked to make a t-shirt quilt from 30 dance/cheer high school shirts just after Thanksgiving, to be done in time for Christmas.  I cringed, knowing I had other handmade gifts to be made, and a quilt already started.  Maybe I wouldn't get to hand quilting Christmas stockings for the kids this year, after all, but, equal parts flattered and needing the money, I said yes.

Has anyone mentioned that these are difficult?  Well, not to me.  I dived in.  The t-shirts were chopped up and interfacing was gallantly applied.  I opted to make 25 blocks and applique some of the random text that was too small to become it's own 12.5" block.

For the sashing, I used Kona Pepper and was very pleased with the blue-black color. To keep costs down and for the "puffy look" I used a roll of poly batting that had been given to me.  It made the quilt much bulkier and difficult to work with, but I think the aesthetic was much better than if I used a lower or mid loft cotton. 

Naturally, I noticed my machine skipping stitches.  Changed the needle, re-threaded.... works fine for a little bit, acts up again.  Very, very frustrating.  Nothing like a deadline to cause a mechanical failure.  Took it to the shop, sure enough it was out of time, for the very first time.  Quite stressful.

I ran into an issue in the bottom right corner.  My walking foot was no longer working properly, instead wobbling up and down in its rear end, causing the needle to hit the back of the plate.  Curse you, generic ebay walking foot.  So I switched to the standard 1/4 inch and sure enough, despite a million safety pins, the top layer was distorted by the time I got to the bottom.

I hefted it over to my local quilt shop where the ladies seemed horrified that I even "attempted to do this myself instead of getting it done on a long-arm."  But, they all said I did a fabulous job and it looked great, and we found a clever way to fix the overhang on the bottom.

Every employee at the shop said they would have paid someone (I asked - $90) to quilt it.  Really?  It's just 8 long lines of straight stitching.  It seems like they take MOST of their quilts "in."  I don't understand why an experienced home quilter would do that.  Are they nervous?  They're much better than I am.  Maybe they find more pleasure in the piecing than the quilting?  Or perhaps it's like a quilter's status symbol, paying to get it done instead of DIY, like going to a fancy hair salon instead of, God forbid, dying your hair yourself.  

Verdict:  It was a challenge, but it came out great.   Don't ever ask me to make another though. :)

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