Country style, country love, country life. Sharing my inspired, vintage, rustic DIY designs and decor on my blog.
I am adding a new category to my blog called
D.I.M. (Do It Myself Because If I Don’t Do It Who Else Will?)
So today’s D.I.M project is a T-Shirt Quilt! I have had a love affair with quilts since I was a kid, especially antique, hand-stitched beauties that have withstood the test of time. (I am a country-girl at heart, after all) Not having much time these days to spend the hours necessary to make an authentic hand-made quilt, I typically create T-shirt quilts and donate them for various Boston area charities through
Occasionally I am commissioned to make one as a gift, so I am featuring this quilt for a soon-to-be high school grad for demonstration purposes. The collection of t-shirts his mom handed over to me are sacred to him- various basketball & soccer teams, childhood memories of camping and community service- and one very special shirt with pics of his dog. Each time I create a quilt, I do so with the recipient in mind, creating what I hope will be a cherished momento that will last a lifetime. In that spirit, I am sharing this information so that you, too, can make a quilt for someone you love!
T-Shirt Quilt Creations 101 is now in session.
T-shirts -I typically work with a dozen, using each as a square, cut 14″ X 16″. They can be brand new, used, stained, painted, torn-it doesn’t matter, as you will be cutting them apart anyway. Make sure you wash them all before you start- don’t want your quilt smelling like a locker room!
Pellon Fusible Interfacing. T-shirts have a lot of give & stretch, so they need to be stabilized to prevent them from warping while sewing. This stuff is the easiest and cheapest to work with. Only .99 per yard, and with a Joann’s coupon, only .50!
Fabric for cross pieces and backing. I typically use a sheet- a full-sized one will give you a single piece for the backing, then enough left over to make the columns and rows. I have an embroidery machine, so I use different fabrics for the cross-pieces, but you can use the same for all three. If you want to use different fabrics to add more color or design, these little Fat Quarters are great- each one gives you 5 cross-pieces!
It goes without saying that you need a sewing machine. Any kind, as long as it sews a straight line or if you want to get a bit fancy, zig-zag! Mine is an old Brother that I got at Target for $159.99 Nothing special, but it gets the job done.
OK, now that you have all the stuff, let’s get going! First you need to identify what part of the shirts you would like to use. Sometimes I just use the front panel, other times I take patches off the sleeves or back and applique them to the front for added interest.
Rough-cut the front panels to approx 16W X 18L . Once you have them rough-cut, fuse each piece with the interfacing on the reverse side. When using the iron, make sure you follow the directions for the interfacing! Also, if you are using game shirts or raised silk-screen shirts, do not place the iron directly onto the shirt or it will melt! Always use a top cloth of white cotton. Once you have fused the square, make the final cut to 14W x 16L inches. Using a half-inch seam allowance, your final squares will end up being 13W X 15L.
Now cut all of your side and cross pieces. Cross pieces will be 14W X 4L. (I always leave a little extra on each end, in case of mistakes : ). If you have 3 columns of shirt squares, you will need 4 long strips approximately 80 inches long for in between each one and a top and bottom piece approximately 60W by 4L. I cut mine 4 inches wide, but you could do less, or more, depending on how big you want the quilt to be.
Line up your shirts in the order you wish them to be on the quilt. This usually takes place on the floor, as I don’t have a table big enough for the full visual. Now begin assembling your quilt, starting with top cross-piece, then a shirt square, then another cross piece, then a square, and so on, building your columns 4 shirts down and your rows 3 across. As you add each piece, make sure you line it up with the one below so your columns are even and straight.
Once you have your three columns of squares and cross-pieces, stitch the columns of 4 inch wide fabric that will hold the entire top of the quilt together. Add the top and bottom pieces that create a “frame” around the squares. Keep checking to make sure that your corners all match up! You know that old carpenter’s saying “Measure twice, cut once?”, so important! I measure and re-measure as I go. Trim excess.
Now that your top is completed, you will attach it to the back, right sides together. Pin first, then stitch, then trim. Make sure you leave an adequate opening to turn the quilt right side out, at least one full shirt square in width. Once it is trimmed, you are going to hand baste the batting to the quilt all the way around. Again, the easiest way I have found to do this is on the floor (not great for the back…)
I stitch each corner with a tiny machine zig-zag, to hold the quilt and batting in place through all three layers. Press closed the opening and stitch by hand, or with a decorative stitch (I used a blanket stitch here). Press again, trim away any threads and you’re done!
A work of art that you can proudly present as a gift for that special someone. Now, I know this is somewhat confusing, and trust me, you won’t do this in a day. If you have any questions, or need assistance, please email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just remember, “a stitch in time saves nine” (right, I have no idea what that means either) Susan
Sometimes you just need a break. In the middle of yet another quilt project with the deadline looming, I just kept gazing out the windows of my dining room “workshop”. Glimpes of the first sunshine we have seen in over a week kept distracting me (something sparkly?!). Such a warm evening… time to go walk the lake.
Around these parts, “walking the lake” refers to Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield. Essentially 3 miles around, the lake is the perfect place to stroll, jog, push a baby carriage and just clear your mind. In 45 minutes, I managed to work up a sweat, create some new blog titles, burn off a few calories and take some pics with my trusty Iphone.
Driftwood and sailboats…
Hope you enjoy the scenery! And if you have some spare time this weekend, Festival By The Lake is happening on Saturday!
It’s almost Friday…Susan
Partied with fomer work colleagues the other night, some of whom I haven’t seen in over a decade. Laughed heartily, exchanged kid pics, reminisced about our times working together, and caught up on all that’s new in our lives. One friend (who shall remain nameless per her request-from this point on she will be referred to as Honey)
entertained the crowd with stories about her newest hobby- beekeeping! “Bee”ing in the healthcare industry for years, Honey is naturally concerned about the health and well-“bee”ing of her family. Learning that there are only three natural sugars on earth- honey “bee”ing one of them- Honey decided that she wanted to experience the thrill of harvesting that rich golden liquid right in her own back yard. And she is not alone. Apparently there is a hidden colony of beekeepers right here in the Boston area. Propogated by the woman she referred to as the “crazy bee lady” in Lexington, these are regular folk who want to experience the pure taste of “home-grown” honey. Her teenage children were naturally mortified, watching her build the apiary, poring through bee catalogs, fearing their mom had lost her mind. Started talking about it at school, and soon discovered that many of their teachers also were closet bee-keepers! Even the Verizon repair guy offered her a full-length jump suit when he spotted her bee hotel in the yard- now that’s full service TV repair!
Now, I know nothing of bee-keeping other than watching Queen Latifah educating Dakota Fanning in The Secret Life Of Bees, so a little research was in order. A glossary of bee-keeping terms for your educational well-“bee”ing:
Beekeeping: (or apiculture, from Latin apis, bee) is the maintenance of honey bee colonies, commonly in hives, by humans. A beekeeper (or apiarist) keeps bees in order to collect honey and other products of the hive (including beeswax, propolis, pollen, and royal jelly), to pollinate crops, or to produce bees for sale to other beekeepers.
Honey: a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans. Honey bees transform nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation (yup, that’s right, it’s their vomit they produce to feed their young) and store it as a primary food source in wax honeycombs inside the beehive. Beekeeping practices encourage overproduction of honey so the excess can be taken from the colony
Italian Bees: The Italian honey bee is thought to originate from the continental part of Italy, South of the Alps, and North of Sicily. This is the kinder, gentler of the honey bees and widely used in this area. Bellissimo!
Russian Bees: The Russian honeybee refers to honey bees (Apis mellifera) that originate in the Primorsky Krai region of Russia. This strain of bee was imported into the United States in 1997 by the USDA‘s Honeybee Breeding, Genetics & Physiology Laboratory in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in response to severe declines in bee populations caused by infestations of parasitic mites, and have been used in breeding programs to improve existing stocks. According to Honey, they are more hostile than the Ialians (there is a joke in there somewhere, but in the interest of “bee”ing politically correct, I’ll pass : )
Bee Smoker: simply called a smoker, is a device used in beekeeping to calm honey bees. It is designed to generate smoke from the smouldering of various fuels, hence the name. Honey reports that when you smoke your apiary, the bees think there is a fire, and all drop to the bottom of the box, so that she can harvest the honey above.
Beekeepers Suit: Consisting of screened hood, gloves, jumpsuit- essentially covering every part of exposed skin. Used to protect the human from sustaining stings while harvesting or tending to their colony. Remember, bee stings can result in anaphylactic shock, when untreated, could be fatal. I think, for me, Market Basket might be a less deadly source of honey…
Nectar: a sugar-rich liquid produced by plants. It is produced in glands called nectaries, within the flowers, in which it attracts pollinating animals. Common nectar-consuming pollinators include bees, butterflies and moths, hummingbirds and bats. Nectar is an ecologically important item, the sugar source for honey.
Queen Bee: typically refers to an adult, mated female that lives in a honey bee colony or hive; she is usually the mother of most, if not all, the bees in the hive. The queens are developed from larvae selected by worker bees and specially fed in order to become sexually mature. There is normally only one adult, mated queen in a hive. Honey says when the colony shipment arrived, the queen was in her own suite, and marked with a big dot on her head-perhaps a nod to the Queen Elizabeth’s penchant for fashionable headgear?
Drones: male honey bees. They develop from eggs that have not been fertilized, and they cannot sting, since the worker bee’s stinger is a modified ovipositor (an egg laying organ). Apparently they just hang around and impregnate the queen.
Worker Bees: Workers leave the hive daily, gathering pollen into the pollen baskets on their back legs, to carry back to the hive where it is used as food for the developing brood. Pollen carried on their bodies may be carried to another flower where a small portion can rub off onto the pistil, resulting in cross pollination. Almost all of civilization’s food supply (maize is a noteworthy exception) depends greatly on crop pollination by honey bees, whether directly eaten or used as forage crops for animals that produce milk and meat. Nectar is sucked up through the proboscis, mixed with enzymes in the stomach, and carried back to the hive, where it is stored in wax cells and evaporated into honey.
If, after reading this, you are interested in starting your own bee colony, this is a great DIY tutorial from The Daily Green at Good Housekeeping. Of course, you can’t go into your local Walmart to pick up supplies, but there are loads of online resources for purchasing and maintaining your bee colony. Honey purchased hers from Georgia– I imagine southern bees to be a kinder, more gracious bee? And she also promised a freshly-harvested jar of the liquid gold come September. Her 20,000-strong colony should produce 1-2 gallons!!
Now that’s something to “bee” excited about!! Enjoy your “Bee-autiful day! Susan
When we were little kids (yup, that’s me, second from the left with those Will Smith dumbo ears : ), our family home had many rooms with hardwood floors. “Waxing day” was always so much fun- although now thinking about it, the actual hard, tedious waxing part was done by my mom on her hands and knees- we just had the fun! Once the wax was dried, she had us don some fat white socks and hit the floor running! Back and forth, slipping and sliding, having a blast and polishing the wax at the same time-genius! Would have been even more fun had Tom Cruise been dancing in the dining room…
So, imagine my delight when shopping last night, I came across these Slipper Genies! Someone- who also did some “slide-waxing” as a kid, perhaps?-came up with the ingenious idea of adding duster bottoms to slippers. Naturally, I had to buy them (well, my sister bought them for me-thanks, Nance!). In my home, we also have hardwood floors throughout. Between the plaster dust, the pollen and the shedding dog
I am forever grabbing the Swiffer to make a quick pass through- especially when company is on the way! So necessity being the mother of invention, it seemed logical to me that since I am walking through these spaces, why not put these on and dust at the same time?! This morning was the trial run of the sliding slippers. Note the legal disclaimers on the reverse side of the packaging, which included:
What a killjoy!! What good is a sliding slipper if you can’t slip and slide!?! And my balance can be a little off at times, but I swear I will not drink martinis while waxing the floors. So they say that they are not a toy, but, hey, why not add a stuffed animal head to the kids’ slippers?!? That seems logical to me.
Warnings be damned, I added a bit of hardwood flooring spray for some shine and added traction (really didn’t want to turn this house into a giant slip ‘n slide-I have stuff to do today that should not include a trip to the ER). The results? Success! See all the dog hairs under my toe? I couldn’t even see them, but the slipper genie grabbed them! So now the floor looks great, and after 5 minutes my thighs got an awesome workout- no need to order the “AS SEEN ON TV THIGH GLIDER“. Now if someone would only invent some lawn mowing slippers… hope you glide through your day today!
Nothing better than waking up early on Friday mornings-no work today (well, at least not at my paying job- I do, however, have a long to-do list!) But it’s just after 5am and I have a bit of time to hang out on the porch with my first cup of coffee, and a pile of this week’s catalogs that I haven’t had a chance to look at yet. Now, I love cyberspace as much as the next girl (after all, where would you read my blog?), but is there anything better than turning the pages of a glossy catalog, dreaming of far off lands or decorating for summer? This week’s stash is all about outdoor spaces:
Ballard Designs with their gracious new Southern Living Collection:
Pottery Barn– always classic designs- this one with All-American splashes of color
PetEdge (just in case I need a life jacket for the dog when we launch the kayaks, long story-hahahahahahaha!)
Crate and Barrel-simple, colorful, so fun and oh, a 10% coupon!
Penny Lane featuring the works of David Bromstad from HGTV (already ordered the Pink Frenchies for my daughter!)
Princess Cruises – Dreams Start Here is right!
So now it’s 5:45 (yup, that’s AM) the sun is up and the first cup of turbo-charged coffee is long gone. One thing about relaxing on the porch, it’s hard not to notice that the gardens are in dire need of weeding. Off I go in my PJ’s and sweatshirt, barefoot and gloveless, ruthlessly yanking weeds and overgrown perennials. Fast forward one hour, three mountains of weeds and cuttings, muddy feet and one happy frog later.
Lots to do, time to get ready for the rest of my day! If you are lucky enough to have a little time off to yourself, savor every moment, whether it’s reading by the pool or weeding the garden. Do what you love, make it count. Have a great Friday! Susan