My first quilt.

How it’s made.

In the About section, I describe this quilt as a disaster. By quilters’ standards, that is absolutely accurate, but in the end it did end up as a quilt, so, what’s a disaster now? I didn’t follow any quilting rule or common practice and I ended up with an object that is unique, adorable, and fully my own.

The reason for the “disaster” word is that I had no idea what I was doing. I decided to make a full-sized quilt solely because I found a flannel sheet at a thrift store and it was a full-size flat sheet.

Step one: I started by cutting the shapes out of the t-shirts that I wanted to use. Yes, instead of cutting rectangular shapes that will easily go together, I cut around the images haphazardly with the hope that I would be able to put these random shapes together like a puzzle. After cutting out most of the shapes and trying to put them together, I did realize how this was silly. Thankfully, I hadn’t finished cutting out all the shapes and I had some shirts in my closet I was hoping to not cut up and ending up using anyway. Oh well.

Step two of having not a clue happened when I sewed the rectangular, non-cut up pieces together. Most, no, all quilters use a 1/4″ seam allowance. I think I used something like a 1/8″ seam allowance because I had no idea what a seam allowance was. Further, promptly after sewing the pieces, I put the top in the wash. You see, I had a table but for some unknown reason I opted to sewing on the floor. I also had two dogs. This was a hairy situation. I might have washed it a bunch of times actually, I don’t remember, but lo and behold, the seams were separating.

Step three took so long and was so labor intensive. Instead of going back and sewing larger seam allowances I decided to fix this by hand. I took size 8 pearl cotton and proceeded to cross stitch along the seams. Did it turn out very cute? Yes. Was it worth it? Sure.

Step four also took forever and was also a very cute choice. I decided to hand embroider all the odd-shaped pieces to the quilt top, which in itself isn’t a terrible idea. Not knowing what I was doing, I didn’t secure the pieces down at all. See the blue octopus-looking guy in the middle? Notice how part of him is scrunched up in one section? Also, notice how nothing is straight and everything looks sloppy? This is thanks to not securing the pieces down before trying to embroider them. However, a word I could use instead of “sloppy” is “charming” because damn. I think it’s very cute.

Once the top was done, step five if your counting, was to put together the quilt sandwich. “Basting” was not a word in my vocabulary, so I didn’t. I also couldn’t afford to buy new batting at the time and used batting scraps my mom happened to have on hand. “Binding” (step six) was also not a word in my vocabulary, but I did manage to fold the edges and sew them down.

Finally, to quilt the layers, I had to lay the quilt on the floor and secure the sandwich without any of the layers shifting. Not yet knowing any method other than tying it, I tied the quilt with far too few knots so that now after washing a number of times the batting is bunched in a few places.

Done.

Why it’s made.

I shared the above because I didn’t know anything and I didn’t do anything right. Despite this, I am so proud of how the quilt came out. If some of the shirts used weren’t so old they’re starting to fall apart, I would still use the quilt to this day.

That’s because, for one, it’s cute and I put a lot of work into it, but for two, each of the shirts included in this quilt had special significance to me. When I moved out of my parents’ house when I went to college, for some reason I took some of these shirts. I took shirts that didn’t even fit anymore. Some of them I’ve had since middle school.

A t-shirt quilt is such a special thing. It might not be as technically difficult as some other quilts, but every single piece of fabric in it holds meaning. In fact, a t-shirt quilt is the perfect entry point for anyone to quilting because it’s not technically difficult. I literally sewed my pieces sitting on the floor needing only to know how to sew straight lines.

What was your first quilt like? Did you take a class or did you just go for it like I did? Comment below!

Love, Madeleine

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