Saturday, May 12, 2012

Small Business Saturday: T-shirt Quilts!

Just like many of you, I was very active as a wee-Ally and later as a young adult. My only-child status afforded me more opportunities than my friends with siblings and with every opportunity, came a t-shirt. Basketball camps, drama club, church camps, tennis team, theater productions, etc, all came with a shirt. Some of them I discarded simply because they didn't fit or were too ugly even for around-the-house wear. But that still left a pretty hefty stack of shirts that I wanted to hold on to, and yet had no place to store. I've been wanting a t-shirt quilt for years and my hints at Thanksgiving each year fell on deaf ears, especially Neal's deaf ears. But this past Christmas, I handed the project over to Mama Virgo, along with the contact information of the woman I had found to do it (who just happens to live and work in hour away). T-shirt quilts (and their corresponding how-to pins on Pinterest) look so easy. You cut up some t-shirts, sew them together, throw a little backing on there and VOILA! Instant memory lane! Except, that is not the the case at all.

The kit that Mama Virgo brought with her on their first visit south after the holidays, was extensive. We had to lay the t-shirts out in the order that we wanted them in, making sure the total number of shirts matched the queen size quilt that I had chosen. Then we had to number them and stack them accordingly. Although the quilt-maker, Marie, is also happy to complete this process in the best way she sees fit, both Mama Virgo and I are a little too OCD to let someone else do this for us. Yes, I know...shocking. Then I chose a corresponding fabric color for the sections around each shirt (not a necessary step, but the banding does create a cleaner look for the quilt), and the fabric color for the back of the quilt. Then it all got boxed up and dropped back off at the quilt-maker's (or shipped if you aren't within driving distance of Louisville). The result? Was this...

Awesome, yes? When we were choosing a banding color, we decided to choose one that was not the main color in any of the t-shirts, but would accentuate or coordinate with all of them. I don't have a picture of the back of the quilt, but it's a lovely charcoal gray. Also, let me point out the swirly stitching throughout the quilt. You can see it really well on the gray Transylvania Basketball Camp tshirt that's hanging from this side (yes, we have a college in Lexington that is named Transylvania University. And yes, you basically have to be as wealthy as Dracula to attend. But their basketball camps are fairly reasonable). Here are a couple more pictures from different angles:

I adore the way it turned out. I also adore that I had completely forgotten this shirt was in the mix:

It's the original Kentucky wildcat logo...penis tongue and all. I've had this shirt for years...I don't remember a time when I didn't have this shirt. So it's only natural that it should be on this quilt, I had just forgotten about it.

So...long story, short? If you're jonesing for a t-shirt quilt, it's best to let the professionals handle it. This could easily be one of those projects that starts out with the best of intentions and ends in a pile of scraps and thread. Unless, of course, you actually quilt...then by all means, knock yourself out. But I don't do anything with thread or needle and I know that I could never create something so beautiful and so detailed without years of practice and frustration. I create jewelry so that you don't have to, and when I want accessories for my house, I tend to hire those out so I don't have to.

On her website, Marie says, "Our T-shirt Quilts are fully quilted with high loft batting instead of just tacked in the corners like most t-shirt quilts. We only use the highest quality material and take special care in making your t-shirt quilt." Also, you can use the front and back of a shirt, any material of shirt, and your quilt will be finished within 2-4 weeks of her receiving your t-shirts. If you have questions about the materials or processes she uses, she has included a FAQ link on her website. And, of course, you can find dozens of well-earned and satisfied customer reviews.

The Bottom Line:

The shop: The Quilt Loft
Price: I'm not sure since it was a gift, but she does list prices on her website.
Lead time: 3-4 weeks (longer at Christmas) from the time she receives the t-shirts with instructions and fabric choices until the quilt is finished
Location: Louisville, KY
How happy am I? LOVE it! And I'm openly recommending her to anyone who wants a t-shirt quilt. When a Virgo tells you that her attention to detail is flawless, you know you can take that to the bank.


  1. What a great idea. I hate to think how many t-shirts I have thrown away over the years. You will enjoy this forever!

  2. SO. STINKING. COOL! I have seen these in the back of magazines but was always worried about sending all my favorite shirts out in the mail to someone, to either not get them back or worse have them get lost in transit. I have a rubbermaid tub with old shirts, maybe not that many but some I plan on actually purchasing album cover frames to put them in and hang them in our "entertainment room" one day. But this quilt is SO cool. I love it!

    P.S. I hate that my darn blog didn't auto update, it did some places and others not, really bugs me. I should have just started a new one but I hated to loose my followers even if the comments are fewer and fewer these days :) Thank you for updating manually girlie! :)

  3. That is really cool! I don't have/wear t-shirts, but I can fully appreciate the amount of time, energy and care that went into making that quilt! Enjoy!!!

  4. I tried to comment on your last post but I'm pretty sure something went haywire! So...for this one...thanks for the link. I may end up asking again in the future. I have a pattern & the T-shirts to do this but if I get frustrated or annoyed with it, I may turn it over to this lovely lady...she did a beautiful job!

  5. That is just crazy cool! But I'm amazed you hung on to all those t-shirts for all these years and that they were in good enough condition to do a project like this! I really like how it turned out.

  6. Ooh, that sounds awesome. This would definitely be something that I'd think I could do but would in no way ever actually be able to do. Sewing and I do not get along that well. I have a billion tees also.


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