T-Shirt Quilts

A year after my daughter had her first baby, she decided that many of the craft projects she’d been working on pre-baby were never going to get finished, so she cleared them out, but not before offering them to me. I felt bad letting the many t-shirt squares she had cut up so carefully go to waste, so I offered to finish the quilt she had intended to make.

T-shirt quilts are easy but time-consuming. In this case, I was working with 6” squares and one big rectangle. I paired up the squares with a 5” scrap of batting in the middle (I had tons of batting scraps from previous quilts I’d made) and sewed an X across each pair.

Once all 250+ squares were stitched, I sewed them together in rows using a ½” seam allowance, making sure to keep all seam allowances to the front. I cut the rectangle to fit, paired it with batting and backing of the same size, and arranged the squares around it.

I also cut the edges so that they will ruffle nicely once the quilt is washed. This is very time-consuming and, if you don’t want your hand to get very sore, requires the use of a certain kind of scissors.

Here’s what the quilt looks like on the back: 

I had enough squares for an ample-sized quilt for my daughter and son-in-law, and a little one so Baby can have her own:

I hate waste, so it felt good to make something warm and useful out of those squares. And now I have more room for fabric in my sewing area since I used up all my excess batting scraps on these quilts. 🙂

Repurposing My Corduroy Jeans

The good news is that I lost weight. The bad news is that my lovely vintage corduroy jeans are way too big on me. They’re made out of strong and stretchy corduroy, the kind you can’t find in stores any more:

They’re a good brand, too:

What to do? Make them into corduroy pants for an active 5-year-old grandson. First up, smooth out one pants leg:

Then pin and cut out a boys’ pants pattern piece:

Do the same for the other pant leg and the other leg pattern piece. Then cut out the pocket:

Attach to the pocket piece something that makes the pants into “Superhero pants!” at the request of said grandson:

Follow pattern directions, and you have a “new” pair of Superhero pants. Front:

And back:

Then, so little sister gets something, too, make a pair of flannel Peppa Pig pants in a smaller size:

Those, of course, were not repurposed and required a trip to the fabric store for Peppa Pig flannel  🙂 Grandma doesn’t want anyone to feel left out!

 

Summer of Sewing

I took a break from quilting this summer in favor of a few sewing projects. I made matching dresses for my little granddaughters that they wore when we all got together in July:

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I turned some old tops of mine that were made out of very good fabric into leggings (the dark pink ones are capris) for my youngest granddaughter, using the principle of repurposing that I learned from my gram so many years ago:

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Then I made Baby Girl one more pair of leggings out of some fabric I bought at a fabric sale:

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It’s so much fun to make little duds! I also made some other projects that I will share in future posts. Before long, I also hope to start another quilt 🙂

A Love Affair with Fabric

IMG_20170125_145914_hdrIsn’t this gorgeous? I bought it not long ago from Hancock’s of Paducah, one of my current favorite sources of fabric. I haven’t decided what to do with it, but I suspect I won’t be able to make myself cut into it, so it’ll probably become the backing on a table runner. That way I can see it on my kitchen table every day.

My love affair with fabric began when I was a girl. I took a park district sewing class where I made myself a corduroy jumper, and then Home Economics in junior high, both of which required my mother to take me to a fabric store. It was love at first sight! All those rows of fabric bolts made me swoon.

After seeing my interest in sewing, my grandmother took me on the bus to Marshall Field’s downtown, where she bought me my first pattern, for making doll clothes, which I still have:

IMG_20170125_155556_hdrDuring one of my regular visits to Anna, Illinois, where my other grandmother lived, I discovered a small fabric store in town where bags of fabric remnants cost a quarter. I’d save up my allowance (a dime a week) so that I could buy some bags to take home. I used the remnants to make doll clothes for my sisters and me. I discovered that once you get good at making doll clothes, making people clothes becomes easier, because they’re so much larger.

Meanwhile, my Chicago grandmother, who lived in a brick bungalow on the South side of Chicago, decided to move to the suburbs, so she no longer needed the gorgeous pink cabbage rose curtains that had graced the windows of her bedroom in the old house. Guess who got them? I made my sisters and I maxi skirts out of them. We’d wear them around the house after school and think we were really cool 🙂

All through high school, I sewed for the fun of it. I took my sewing machine with me to college; when I became stressed from studying, I’d take a sewing break. Bliss!

I got married while I was in college; after we graduated, we moved back to the suburbs and bought a house. Now my love of fabric kicked into overdrive. We needed towels, sheets and curtains. I’d stop by TJ Maxx or Marshall’s on my way home from work and come out loaded down with gorgeous bed and bath linens. I also made window treatments for most of our windows. It was so much fun, and back then, it seemed like there were endless gorgeous designs.

These days most towels, sheets and decorator fabric bore me:

Curtains

There is little charm or originality in today’s designs. Much of it looks the same wherever I go. But when I shop in quilt stores or on quilt fabric websites, I find gorgeous fabric with all kinds of designs. There are even reproductions from different eras.

I’ve also found that estate sales are a good source of vintage fabric. When I find a lovely piece of fabric, sturdy Made-in-the-USA stuff from the mid-20th century, it’s like finding a treasure. I’ve made things for my grandchildren out of vintage fabric; it’s a joy to work with, and wears like iron. I just made my newest grandchild a crib sheet out of a lovely vintage sheet. So pretty!

Each spring, the Salvation Army in my town holds a fabric sale. Picture a large vacant storefront filled with donated fabric and craft supplies (all proceeds go to the Salvation Army). On the first day of the sale, there’s a very long line of women waiting to get in. Hundreds of women attend this sale every year, and I’m one of them. It’s so much fun, and I always come home with bags and bags of treasures to play with.

If it weren’t for vintage and quilt fabric, I might have fallen out of love with fabric (heaven forbid!) Instead, the love affair continues.

Safe Rotary Cutting for Quilters

For over 20 years, I’ve used rotary cutters to cut fabric for my quilts, and I’ve never had an accident. That’s just luck, because plenty of accomplished, careful quilters have cut themselves badly at least once while using this very sharp tool.

Now that I’m on blood thinners, and the least little scratch makes me bleed quite a bit, I’m thinking that I’ve got to do more than just hope my luck doesn’t run out: I need protection! So I decided to buy a ruler guard, a large gripper for big templates and rulers, a small gripper for smaller templates and rulers, and some cut-resistant gloves.

But they added up to over $60, and while that’s way less than the cost of an emergency room visit, it’s still a lot of money. So I thought about it for a few days, and did some research. That’s how I found this blog post about finding sewing supplies at hardware stores. Turns out I could have all the safety equipment I wanted for less than the cost of just the gloves!

So after researching what I needed at their website, I went to the nearest Harbor Freight store and bought the following items:

Here’s my new large gripper, which cost only $6.99 (I don’t know why the photo makes it look pink with green, as it’s actually white with blue):

img_20160924_1349521_rewindI also bought a small gripper for $3.99:

img_20160924_1345374_rewindAnd an even smaller gripper for $2.99:

img_20160924_1346412_rewindAdd in a pair of cut-resistant gloves for only $5.99, and you can see I got quite a lot of protection for barely $20:

img_20160924_1342475_rewindI also bought the ruler guard, though not at Harbor Freight; by calling around, I found it at a local quilt shop so I bought it from them instead of online. I’ve already begun cutting out a complex project, and while it took a little while to get used to wearing gloves, I’m pleased with everything I bought, and find that cutting with grippers actually speeds up the process.

I’ve also begun wearing shoes when I use the rotary cutter. Why? Because I saw a comment on a sewing forum where someone said they accidentally dropped their rotary cutter on their bare foot, severing some veins and muscles, leading to a lot of pain and two surgeries. I don’t normally wear shoes in the house, but I do now when I’m cutting fabric for a quilt!