Sunday, September 29, 2013

Surrounded by T-shirts

So... I may have started another quilt last night.  Umm... before I finished the previous t-shirt quilt.  Before I finished anything significant at all, really.  I feel guilty for doing this, but I just got so excited about starting a new project with t-shirts.

I spent the evening cutting out and stabilizing t-shirts that youngest daughter had saved from most of her drama productions in high school.  How many t-shirts did I end up with?  17!  Heavens, what am I to make with 17 t-shirts?  Most of the ideas I have seen with t-shirts don't have room for quite so many shirts.

Colorful collection of drama t-shirts
 I have bought coordinating fabric in blues, greens, and browns.  Not too much of any one piece, however, so this has the potential to be a scrappy mess.  Unless I can tame things down by having a unifying idea.  What ideas have I seen lately?

This is the Surrounded pattern from Four Paws Quilting.  I took a picture of it on the wall of Piece by Piece Fabrics.  I wonder if the larger blocks can be t-shirts.  There don't seem to be enough of them...

Same pattern, different effect:  I first saw this quilt in this colorway on the PBP Blog. From this photo, I count 16 "large" blocks.  Maybe it would work.

I also flipped through a book--Terrific Tees: I Can't Believe It's a T-shirt Quilt--just to see what other ideas called to me.

My favorite quilt in the book is a mixture of t-shirts and intricately-pieced related blocks.  The t-shirts mesh so seamlessly with the rest of the quilt.  The overall theme (both of the t-shirts and the pieced blocks) features the city of San Francisco.  So there is Lombard Street and the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Victorian row houses, Alcatraz Island, and the like.  All in coordinating colors.  And tied together with rows of flying geese.  So lovely!

Quilt by Roberta de Luz, in Terrific Tees book
The design seems a little too much to tackle, but I am intrigued nevertheless.  I have lots of ideas for coordinating scenes to go with the drama theme: parting curtains over a stage; a yellow brick road and ruby slippers; comedy and tragedy masks; a bust of Shakespeare.  Too many ideas to list (or complete, naturally.)

T-shirt layout idea from Terrific Tees book
Finally, the book had some layout sketches, showing different ways to integrate t-shirt blocks with pieced blocks and sashing.  I like the layout shown here because of the pieced sashing.  Not saying I would use the particular design shown (trees and stars don't exactly match my theme), but I can see this idea being one I will continue to play around with.

Much design work needs to happen before I move forward, but I have made a start.  And thus, I can post this to the New FO linky party at the end of the month.  A new project!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Rainbow bag idea

Was sorting thru photos I took over the summer and came across this picture I snapped in a student-friendly store near Duke University

The bag on the left is made out of strips of t-shirt that were stitched together with exposed serged seams.  It is fully lined with a woven material, so the stretchiness of the knits won't be a factor in the integrity of the bag.  Also, the strap is woven (and lined).

I have a rainbow of partially cut-up t-shirts hanging around!.. But alas, no plans to do this with them.  Yet.

Think I'll hang onto this idea for later. 

(And yes, for the record, I also adore the plaid bag on the right with the large exterior pockets--could they be made in a competing plaid?--and big chunky buttons.)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Xmas in July...August...September...

Drat, the calendar moved past August before I could complete this posting...

Ok, I am all set to go: Christmas sewing project.  Won't post too much about it, as some of my blog readers are family members who will be getting said home-sewn gifts.  But they all know already that I am sewing aprons.

Have had this plan for sewing gift aprons for many years.  Have a unique twist, and a reason these aprons will be loved and cherished.  But, why now?

Thrift sale find
Well, I found a slew of identical aprons on sale in a thrift shop.  $1 each.  Done!  I knew this was a sign that this is the year I need to make this project a reality.

The aprons were an advertising item for a company, so they have a large logo on the front.  No problem, I have a solution for that issue.  Also, the neck strap and waist ties are a little skimpy.  I have a fix for that, too.

Taking apart the aprons to add personal touches

Removing the existing pocket and bias-binding straps will allow me to personalize each apron to match the taste and decor of the family member who will be receiving it.

Apron neck strap plan

So excited to get going on this!  I must finish in a reasonable amount of time, however, because I refuse to be sewing on December 24th.  I learned my lesson last year:

no last-minute holiday sewing = less stress and happier me!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Somebody Stop Me

Dizzy and giddy with my new fabric
Argh, I bought more fabric. 

After months and months when I sewed almost nothing.  Just little bits and pieces--doll clothing, for goodness sake!  I have been completely unable to resist the pull of purchasing new fabric on my last two outings, regardless of the fact that I have boxes and boxes of fabric yardage, bins of fat quarters and color-sorted scraps.  And, no real plans to use up a lot of fabric in the near future.

What am I collecting all this fabric for?

 Well, to be honest, I am floating a bit between projects.  The t-shirt quilt is winding down.  Other projects have largely lost their luster.  And that stage--casting about for the next thing that will envelop my fabric-attention-span, feeling creatively unfettered--is always dangerous for fabric purchases. 

Anything feels possible.  New ideas are given a grand reception in the lobby of my mind.  I am able to ignore all the almost-complete WIPs and nearly-forgotten UFOs because there is something wonderful that is new and shiny just around the next corner.

But it was on sale!
I did give myself a stern talking to on the way home from the quilt shop.  Yes, the fabric I purchased was on sale.  Yes, I have the potential to use some of it for upcoming Christmas sewing.  Yes, I have learned to be more cautious about not buying random showcase prints, and I gravitate much more toward things that are vaguely neutral, tone-on-tone, or will play well with many other fabrics I already own.  But really, how much fabric does one woman need?  (Especially one who sews as little as I do?)

I got rid of lots of fabric last summer at the Quilter's Yard Sale.  I am in danger of replacing that fabric with these new purchases.

Argh, somebody stop me before I buy again.


Can I possibly use up a significant amount of fabric in 2014?  What would be a reasonable amount to aim for?  Initially, I thought that I could set a goal of using 100 yards.  That would certainly make a dent in my stash.  But realistic?  100  yards of fabric is a bit more than 8 yards a month.  Yikes!  I'm not that sort of seamstress/quilter.  (Plus, I have a wedding in 2014 that will usurp quite a bit of my time.)  Of course, Sweetie helpfully pointed out that I can find other ways to get rid of fabric besides just using it in sewing projects.  Horrors, what sort of suggestion is this?  Didn't I just do this at the Yard Sale?

Bother, I am some sort of fabric addict.  I might as well admit that I am powerless when it comes to regulating my own purchasing of fabric.  I might need an intervention...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Buck-a-block August pattern

Finished the July pattern with a fabric from my stash--first time all year I have moved outside the provided pale, soft, muted colors.
Wild Goose Chase - July

 Although the geese kinda get lost with all the stripes here, I don't really mind.  It's different.  It's done.  Clearly, the dragonfly idea didn't get used for the center of the block.  Another month down, I'm movin' on.  (Recall that I am not exactly sure where I'm going with this project overall, so I have a bit of a "meh" attitude.)

August's pattern is "Sunny Lanes"  from Judy Hopkins' book 501 Rotary Cut Quilt Blocks (That Patchwork Place).  I like the fabrics (not shown with the pattern) because they appear to have enough contrast.
Sunny Lanes - August
 As I was constructing the block, I decided I liked the darker diagonal stripes swapping with the light ones (see pattern above for the difference--two vs. three diagonals of the color).  It was a relatively simple matter to rotate the half-square triangle blocks to make this happen.

Done.  Yay!  And it's almost time for September's pattern...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


When I was in the Navy, I remember a training once on the dangers of Get-Home-itis.  This is the
Neglected: 1) laundry; 2) the dogs
tendency to let your guard down and neglect safety and protocols when you are on your way home.  In fact, the closer you get to your home destination, the more tunnel-vision you tend to get.  This is dangerous in a military situation, because soldiers out on patrol might overlook hostile signs in their eagerness to get back to their home base.

What does this have to do with here-and-now?  Well, I've been in the home stretch of finishing a quilt top, and have perhaps neglected a few things around the house in my eagerness to get done.

Neglected: 3) the garden

One of the things I enjoy about quilting, in the early stages, is the ability to work in small chunks of time.  Just 15 minutes to iron open a few seams, or 20 minutes to trim the next group of pieces to be chain-pieced together.  It's all about the little steps I can take on a daily basis.  I can flit into the sewing room and recharge my batteries, and my family hardly even notices I am gone.

But eventually, I want to see visible progress.  With Sweetie's t-shirt quilt 1/2 done as of August 1st, I was in a virtual race the last 2 weeks of the month to get all the blocks put together.  And I may have suffered a bit of tunnel-vision myself.  (What, tomatoes are not supposed to creep along the ground?  But they look so happy down there intertwined with the squash plant.)  I definitely neglected all the little bits and pieces around the house as I spent many hours holed away in my sewing cave.

Finally got the last block finished at stitch-n-bitch, and I was able to see my baby come to life.

Oh, it's so lovely.  This is my own design, based roughly on a picture I saw in the book Terrific Tees.  I could only imagine how it would actually look with the t-shirts in it, after hand-coloring a log cabin trial pattern in a rainbow scheme.

I already have a backing fabric.  Have to decide whether I intend to quilt this very simply, or send it out to be professionally quilted.  But first... Kennette said that I might need a bit of a border.  Dang, wanted so much for this to be completed.  She's right, of course.  I made each of the log cabin blocks have a solid (or solid-looking) fabric along the outside edges, but there are 3 white t-shirts along the edges also, and that demands a border.

 I auditioned an Alexander Henry rainbow stripe as a possible border.  (This is the fabric Sweetie initially picked out to be the sashing of a much-plainer design with these t-shirts.)  Worried that it might be too "yellow".  Sweetie is not a yellow fan.  I purposefully made sure the quilt--although having an overall rainbow color theme--was largely in the blue spectrum. 

Argh... I could agonize over exactly the right border fabric for ages, or I could just go with the flow here and git 'er done

I wanna be done with this one, because the next t-shirt quilt is knocking at my creative side-door.  And the joy of starting a new quilt is really calling to me.