As many of you know, I just got a new sewing machine and I'm also interested in developing my quilting skills. Add to that that I have two kids in their late teens. One has already flown the coop and is living far away and another who seems overly anxious to do the same.
Both my kids were active in sports and in school activities and they have closets full of old sports uniforms and t-shirts of all kinds. So it dawned on me, what better gift for a child moving away than a keepsake quilt with all the childhood memories sewn in?
Making a keepsake quilt may give me a chance to do a lot of sewing on my new machine while also creating some fantastic Christmas gifts for the kids that will hopefully help remind them of home.
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I don't have a lot of pictures of this project as I'm going to be doing it myself in the lead up to Christmas. Since I'm relatively new to quilting, I have asked one of our contributors, Kathryn, to write up the process I should use when making this quilt which I'll share this with you now in case you want to begin a similar project.
How to Make a Keepsake Quilt from Old T-Shirts
By Kathryn M. D’Imperio
When your kids are in sports or any activity, countless t-shirts usually end up in their wardrobes over the years. What is one person supposed to do with all of these t-shirts? While some t-shirts may be fast favorites, others may just sit in drawers, or worse, plastic storage boxes, for months, if not years at a time. What is one to do with all of these forgotten t-shirts?
First, let’s think about t-shirts. Very often they are made from preshrunk cotton, making them perfect to toss in the washer and dryer at a moment’s notice. T-shirts usually feature a soft and snuggly jersey cotton type material, making them comfortable and nice to wear even when you aren’t feeling the greatest. The combination of being comfortable and easy to wash make t-shirts a great candidate for creating a keepsake quilt.
The best keepsake quilts usually feature a constant theme running throughout the blanket. You can make your keepsake quilt large enough to fit a twin bed or even a full bed, or you can make it as a simple throw for snuggling on the sofa or in the car on a long trip. Depending on the number of t-shirts you have saved for the occasion, you can make your keepsake t-shirt quilt single-sided with a fleece or flannel backing, or you can make it double-sided with even more t-shirts.
Some of the best t-shirt quilts may feature your child’s involvement in a sport or activity over his or her grade school or high school years. You can handcraft a cross country or track and field quilt, a soccer quilt, a marching band quilt, a Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts quilt, or just about any kind of t-shirt quilt you want, combining memories from your child’s earlier years. A handcrafted keepsake quilt made from t-shirts can be a memorable, cherished high school graduation gift to take to college. Just make sure you don’t cut up any of your child’s favorite t-shirts without asking!
To create your very own keepsake t-shirt quilt, follow these basic steps. You may need to brush up on some sewing and quilting techniques if you are a beginner.
- Gather as many old t-shirts as you can find from your child’s sports and activities.
- Create a pattern on a piece of newspaper or a paper bag in the size and shape you would like each patch to be. Basic squares tend to be a great shape for a starter keepsake quilt.
- Using your pattern and some sewing pins, cut out a square on the front and back of each t-shirt so that you get two pieces of the quilt from each shirt.
- Lay out all the pieces to make sure you have enough patches for two equal squares or rectangles to form your quilt.
- Using a sewing machine or by sewing freehand, stitch together half of the squares into one large square or rectangle.
- If you are making a double-sided keepsake quilt, repeat for the other half of your blanket. If you are using a different fabric for the reverse side of your blanket, make sure you have a piece of fabric that is as long and as wide as the rest of your t-shirt squares once assembled. Some basic math and measuring may be necessary.
- Before stitching your two completed sides together, decide if you would like to add a little batting to your quilt for added warmth and snuggle factor. Read up on quilting techniques to ensure you properly affix the batting inside the quilt.
- After adding quilters’ batting if desired, sew the quilt together one side at a time, with the bad side facing out so that you won’t see your stitches on the finished product.
- For the last little bit of the sewing, very carefully stitch together both sides of the quilt so that your stitches blend nicely with the rest of the sewing.
- Deliver your special keepsake quilt to your child, niece, or nephew as their going away to college gift or a present for any other special occasion.
Once you get the hang of it, this quilting project should be easy enough for even a beginner. Don’t be afraid to experiment and add your own special finishing touches like trim and other adornments. Just be mindful – once you create your first keepsake quilt, your friends and family members may be lining up to request their own special blanket handcrafted by you.