Monday, September 27, 2010

Lesson 12: t-shirt girl

I can't help it.  No matter how many times my sister tries to fluff me up and bling me out, I'm a t-shirt girl at heart.  Nothing beats a well worn t-shirt, if you want my opinion.  This statement always leads my sister to predict that one day I will become a Glamour Magazine "fashion don't."  You know--the candid they grab of the lady on the street sporting the dowdy duds.  The editors put these odd little black boxes over the poor person's eyes.  Like someone wouldn't recognize it was me with nothing altered but little, black rectangles over my eyes. 

Nevertheless, when my only sibling dropped 3 dress sizes in a year, I inherited quite a nice array of fat clothes.  Now realize that receiving someones fat clothes is a really low moment in life for a girl.  Receiving KAREN's fat clothes is an entirely different story though.  Barely worn (she plowed right through those sizes), and still smelling of the Limited, they are a bargain hunter's gem.  The only problem is that we have very different tastes.  It goes into the "give away" pile if the item fits into one of these three categories:  animal prints, plunging necklines, or sequins.  Given the latest trends, the give away pile is always quite large.  Once in awhile I try to be brave and fashion forward and will come out sporting something that is on my "questionable" line.  Ellen usually pipes up and says, "Was that Aunt Karen's?"  That usually is enough for me to do an about face and march back into my closet to dig through my t-shirt bin. 

My favorites as of late are my nice collection of organic cotton LOST t-shirts from  I think I wore one every day of the summer.  If my dear readers have not ponied up the 3 extra bucks for the organic cotton yet, I strongly urge you to try it.  You'll never go back---so soft you'll never want to take your shirt
off, or at least wait by the washer and dryer until it is done. That way you can put it back on when it is warm and fluffy and smells like the Snuggle bear.

So, I have accumulated quite a t-shirt collection myself.  Too many to wear with any regularity.  My crafty middle child Ellen, saw a t-shirt quilt in a magazine about a year ago and bugged me about making one ever since.  We decided to try the project out and it was really fun.  It just took a little patience and a big mess in on the kitchen counter for  a couple of weeks this summer.  It was also a great way for me to immortalize some of my favorites---as a square on Ellen's quilt.   At only 9 years old at the time she was making it, she did a fantastic job.  It was so good that we entered it in the North East Community Fair.  The picture to the left shows Ellen sporting her FIRST PLACE ribbon. 

Many have asked me for the directions, so here are some of the materials you need and a few of the first steps.  For those of you who make it past the first stage, call me and I'll coach you through the sewing part and tell you what you can actually do for yourself and what is best to pass along to an experienced quilter.  Read below for the directions:

PHASE 1:  Collection & Cutting
  1. Find 30 shirts
  2. Get a ruler and a sharpie marker and make a 14 inch square around the part of the t-shirt you would like to use--center it as best as you can
  3. Get some plain old scissors and cut out the square
PHASE 2:  Ironing on Fusing
  1. Go to the fabric store and buy fusing by the yard. Fusing is the stuff you iron on the back of the t-shirt to make it stiff.  NOTE:  If you were passing notes in 8th grade general math class instead of paying attention like I was, you may need a bit of assistance.  Tell one of those friendly ladies at the counter what you are making and the size and they can figure out how much fusing you'll need. 
  2. Cut the fusing into 14 inch squares
  3. Drag your ironing board out into the middle of your kitchen floor, turn on your TV to something interesting, and iron the fusing onto the t-shirt.  Be careful--the fusing goes on a certain way--the sticky side toward the t-shirt--otherwise you'll ruin your iron.
  4. This takes forever--and I hate ironing
PHASE 3:  Squaring the squares
  1. Go to a craft store and buy a 12 inch quilting square (see through--like a Plexiglas type thing with measuring marks on it--about $10)
  2. Pick up a rotary cutter while you are there--also about $10.  It looks kind of like a pizza wheel, but I don't recommend running it over your fingers like I did.  It is a sharp sucker and blood does come out of t-shirt squares with a little peroxide. 
  3. Put the see through quilt square over the 14 inch square and center the design.  Roll around it with that rotary cutter and you've got yourself a perfect 12 inch square.
  4. Once all of those little perfect squares are done, you can experiment by laying them out on your living room floor ( make sure you yell at your husband and pets not to step on them--leave them there for a few hours mulling over the different patterns you can make, and piss everyone off a little longer)
PHASE 4:  Sheet purchasing and sewing
  1. If you've gotten this far, then you are pretty serious.  I will not consider you a fly-by-night quilt maker, so please call me and I'll coach you through the rest. 
  2. The quilt goes together pretty quickly--you can get it together in a few hours
  3. We used a dinky, little machine we picked up a Big Lots years ago for $60 and it did the job just fine.
Can't wait to see who the brave ones are.

1 comment:

overdorffhelen said...

Congratulations, Ellen! Your German ancestors would be proud of your sewing abilities.

Grandma O