There’s a thing that happens when you tell someone you’re a quilter. Nine times out of ten, the person will ask if you make t-shirt quilts. My standard answer is no for many reasons; because it’s an arduous process, because I have next to no experience sewing knits, because I’m afraid I’ll ruin a beloved heirloom. Because once you start taking commissions like those it’s a tempting and slippery slope into a time-consuming job.
But there are things that change all of those circumstances. In the fall, my extended family lost a beloved man very suddenly. Tom was my aunt’s love for decades, a second father to my cousins, a man whose warmth and joy brought so much humanity to family gatherings. My aunt and cousins have been dealing so well with this life-changing event, but naturally they miss him a lot. In the winter, my cousin Lauren, who played volleyball for Rivier College not long ago, asked if I knew anyone who might be able to make her a quilt from Tom’s Rivier t-shirts. He and my aunt were her biggest supporters, and there were eight shirts in his XL size. I said, yes, you ask your cousin the quilter. I couldn’t imagine anyone else making this quilt, and I took the job very seriously.
Luckily, those eight shirts made a beautifully heavy 60″ square throw. I cut 12 1/2″ squares from the front and back of each shirt, using the leftover strips to piece 12 1/2″ blocks until I had 25. I used Pellon Shape Flex as interfacing so that the fabric would be stabilized with something that would behave like my usual quilting cotton. I used ball point needles and crossed my fingers. It came together surprisingly well. I was sure to take my time and sew mindfully, both for technical purposes and because I wanted it to look and feel good for Lauren.
I realized in making this quilt that this is why the memory quilting tradition is such an important one.It helped me grieve his loss in process. It gave many small things one big purpose. Most importantly, this quilt lets Lauren have another hug from Tom.
I am still not ready to take on t-shirt quilts for anything but very special situations, but I’m so so thankful I got to make this one.
I am so glad you were able to grieve through the process, Mel. I can’t imagine anyone else being able to put as much love, care, and thought into this quilt for your cousin. I know she will treasure it and your hard work. *hugs*
This is the only reason I’d make a tshirt quilt as well, and you did a wonderful job with this one! I’m sure all the extra love and care you put into it are very much appreciated by your cousin!
You out did yourself. Beautifully made!
How precious this quilt must be to your aunt and her boys! Wonderful job!!
You’ve done a beautiful job of working with difficult fabric for quilting. You’ve honoured a dear man and given joy to those he’s left behind, and you’ve done them all proud.
What a beautiful post, sentiment, and quilt. Your love for your family really shows through. Every stitch looks perfect! Knits can be hard to work with but it doesn’t show.
I also made a T-Shirt quilt for my Grandaughter who was graduating from College. I had always said I would not, but when she asked me, while still a freshman starting out, I agreed to do it. Used a lot of T-Shirts and finally got it done in time to present it to her at the Graduation lunch. Do not know if I would do it again, but maybe for Family. You did your’s for a loved one which makes it very dear to that person. Beautiful job.
Beautiful job. You have created a lasting heirloom and you are right – that quilt will give hugs for years to come. I do like doing t-short quilts for this reason. I love immersing myself in the stories they hold. Yours is especially beautiful!
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