T-shirt quilt: Part 1

We are doing some spring cleaning, which includes going through all the boxes in our closets and basement with the goal of having an epic yard sale and getting rid of lots of junk. I am a big-time clothes hoarder, with boxes of clothes that I hang on to either because I hope to fit into them again one day (not likely to happen anytime soon) or because I am emotionally attached to them. I have recycled some of these old clothes into new ones or into other projects, but for the most part they just take up space. Although T-shirt quilts are maybe a bit cheesy, making one seemed like a good use of all the T-shirts I will never wear again. I collected a big pile of these: shirts from schools where I taught, my high school graduation shirt, a couple of band shirts, and some other old favorites. Jared pitched in a few as well. There are many tutorials for T-shirt quilts online, but they pretty much start the same way: cut away the sleeves and separate front from back, iron on fusible interfacing for stability, decide on a size, and cut. Pretty simple. I saved the unused side and sleeves of each shirt for rags.

I bought 6 yards of lightweight fusible interfacing at 99 cents a yard. This should have given me 12 18-inch lengths of interfacing, but since I didn’t measure very carefully, I ended up with only 11. I also had more T-shirts than I thought, so I’ll need to buy more. After ironing on the interfacing, I measured the largest designs and decided to cut 15-inch squares. With a half-inch seam allowance, they will measure 14 inches square in the final quilt. I made a template of newspaper and checked the placement carefully, trying to center the design. This wasn’t always possible, as many of the designs were too close to the neck opening to work, but I did the best I could.


At the end of the night, I had 11 squares ready; the rest of my pile will have to wait until I buy more interfacing.


Here are a few of my favorites, including the anarchy shirt that I loved in high school (I thought I was such a badass), my high school graduation shirt signed by everyone in the class, a school tie-dye shirt from my elementary teaching days, and my beloved Tripping Daisy shirt.

A couple of the shirts were too small to fill out the square so I will have to find some way of filling them in or framing them with another material. I will also have to decide on a layout and choose whether or not to add sashing between the panels. Should be fun!


Sunroom updates update

As I mentioned last week, I wasn’t completely happy with the sunroom update. I hated the cushions in particular, so I decided to replace them with a body pillow, which was just the right width. The pillow is quite a bit shorter than the bench, but I can live with that. I made another pillow to help fill in the empty spaces.


I think the neutral color helps break up the blue a bit and makes the whole thing look far less Smurf-pukey. Also, it is much more comfortable now. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the foam and fabric from the cushions. Perhaps I’ll make a few more pillows.

There is a little cabinet in this space that holds my painting supplies–it has wheels and I believe it was designed to hold a microwave. I took off the doors and spray painted them blue (I wouldn’t have bothered but I had previously painted them red, which now looked really out of place). I tidied it up and put a scarf on top to make it a bit more interesting. I was thinking of making some curtains to cover the open space above the doors, but now I’m not sure–it doesn’t look as messy as I’d thought.


Here is a view of the space from the bedroom. I am down to one chair because the crack in the other one was worse than I thought and I don’t have all the materials on hand to repair it. I really don’t need two chairs in here anyway.


I still need to touch up some paint, but this is pretty much done. I plan to spend the evening out here working on my dissertation.


The cats approve.


Sunroom updates

One of my favorite things about our house is the tiny second-floor sunroom. When we moved in, it had just been re-roofed and most of the wood, including around the windows, was left plain. The beadboard below the walls was painted off-white and the floor was covered in beige carpet. The previous owner had improvised some curtains by hanging lengths of unbleached muslin from tension rods with clip rings. It was bright and utilitarian.

This photo was taken when we looked at the house--the chairs belonged to the previous owner.

This photo was taken when we looked at the house–the chairs belonged to the previous owner.

The room pretty much stayed that way until a few years ago, when I ripped out the carpet, then a second carpet beneath, and put down some wood parquet flooring salvaged from Jared’s parents’ house. I painted the exposed wood a sunny yellow, though I left the ceiling bare since I can’t reach it. I also made a long bench on one side using two boards and some shelf brackets; I painted the bench yellow, too. I covered it with a cushion made from green home decor fabric over rectangular pieces of foam, added a skirt to hide a storage area under the bench, and made a couple of pillows. I also spray painted a folding table to harmonize with the color scheme.


This worked very well for a while, and I used the sunroom much more often. However, the fabric eventually faded. One of the furrier residents of our house tends to express her displeasure by peeing on anything soft, so the cushion and pillows became wrinkled from washing. I used it less, and the room quickly acquired clutter. This is what it looked like in May of 2013.


Yeah. Don’t judge me.

It was time for a change. I thought about using a similar color scheme–yellows, greens, and/or reds, but most of our house contains these three colors and I wanted something a bit different. I loved the beautiful blues we saw during a trip to Tunisia, and used my photographs of Tunis as inspiration.


I needed chairs, but was unable to find anything that appealed to me at Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Instead, I decided to spray paint two wooden folding chairs that had been hiding out in the basement. I used to use these at my computer desk, but they were not up to the abuse that I put on my desk chairs (I spend a lot of time in front of the computer and I’m very fidgety). The slats came loose in one, and another cracked. I had fixed them with screws and wood glue, but relegated them to the basement when I found something better. I hosed them off to get rid of the dust and spiderwebs they had accumulated and sprayed them a light aqua. I sprayed the folding table a nice bright cobalt.


I bought two fabrics to cover the cushions and pillows: a bright turquoise and a gorgeous royal blue and gold brocade, both on sale. I wanted a variety of colors and textures, so I combined these with some fabrics I already had (including some left over from this skirt). Instead of making one long cushion, as I had done before, I covered four foam rectangles individually. I did not do the best job on these, but I am okay with that.


I made the pillow covers with envelope backings. My pillow forms were 14 by 14 inches, so for each front I cut a 15 by 15-inch square to allow for 1/2 inch seam allowances. For the backs, I cut two 9 by 15-inch rectangles and finished one end of each, then sewed the whole thing together. It worked great and I am very happy with them. The curtains are the same tension rods and clip hooks with plain white flour sack towels.


The room isn’t done–the chairs aren’t evenly coated with paint, so I’ll need to buy another can. I also need to add trim around the floor–this should have been done four years ago, but I didn’t get around to it. The floor also clearly needs to be mopped. Yikes. Also, I think the yellow paint has to go. At first I thought it would be okay with the blues, but I think it clashes too much. Another possibility is to make some more pillows that incorporate other colors–I don’t want the room to look like a Smurf threw up in there. So this will probably never be finished, but at least it’s usable again.

After looking at these photos, I realize that I hate the cushions and possibly also the satin pillow. It may be that the photo makes them look shinier than they are, but I am thinking that tomorrow I’ll make some changes.