But what of MEANINGFUL t-shirts? You know the kind – cool concerts, excellent vacations, unforgettable sports events – t-shirts that never really looked that good on you, or that no longer fit, or are so loved and faded and pock-marked with holes that you haven’t worn them even as pajamas in years. But you can’t throw them away. They just collect in piles in closets, at the bottom of drawers, behind boxes in the linen cupboard or in the back of the car.
No more, say I! I finally convinced my husband to donate some of his more loved t-shirts to a memento quilt project – and look at the lovely results!
What I love about this t-shirt quilt is that each panel has a story. Here’s a summary:
Top row L-R: The BBQ Conference for Sound Engineers that Len used to attend, where he made some of his best friends over the years; the front of the t-shirt we were given by the company who took us on a tour of Turkey for the 2006 eclipse; a Russian doll t-shirt I bought in London for Lucy in 2005 which she wore the first time she met the woman who is now her agent; t-shirt from the very last Crowded House Concert in Sydney in 1996.
2nd row from top L-R: Guns N Roses concert in Auckland NZ, 1988; Cricket Test series 1999. We went to the Boxing Day test in Melbourne and saw Brett Lee bowl his first test over, getting two out!; Another BBQ conference – Len doesn’t go anymore, which is a pity
3rd Row L-R: A t-shirt from the now defunct Star Trek the experience in
Las Vegas; ANOTHER BBQ t-shirt; t-shirt from the 1999 eclipse in France
4th row L-R: T-shirt from a “reading” from Ghost World by Daniel Clowes, who was actually too shy to read, but I got to congratulate him on his Oscar nod; back of Crowded House t-shirt; back of Turkey tour t-shirt. I like it because it has the company owner’s name: Murti. He was a laugh
Bottom row L-R: Eclipse in Australia 2002; back of Gun’s and Roses t-shirt saying “Guns over NZ”; my home made “Harry is My Co-Pilot t-shirt, made especially for my little reading party for the 7th book.
Finally, I love that I was able to incorporate Hawaiian fabric I bought on a trip to Hawaii in 2003...ahem…Lucy was born nine months later.
As far as the process, I cut the t-shirts apart to preserve the decals and logos, then fused the logos to fusible interfacing. This is the part I will do differently next time. The fusible interfacing was so sticky and unwieldy it made it very difficult to sew. Next time I will use fusible web to fuse the jersey logos to regular unbleached cotton.
Once the t-shirt squares were ready I discovered they were all different sizes and therefore would be very difficult to piece together. I brooded over this for a very long time until finally being inspired to use the Hawaiian fabric, which has a meaning of it’s own, to build up each mismatched square until they all fit together. I used ordinary fleece for the backing and simply sewed right sides together and turned the whole thing inside out, hand stitching it closed. Because there is no batting, there is no need for top stitching. It ended up about 50” x 60”, just right to snuggle under in front of the TV, or to use when a smaller child sleeps over.
I very much recommend this way of preserving keepsake t-shirts. We had actually stopped buying them when we traveled, because of how many were laying around. Now that I know I can make this kind of memento quilt, I will buy them again. I can’t wait to make one for my daughter with all her dinosaur, summer camp, sports, dance and vacation t-shirts. Maybe I’ll even send her off to college with it!