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T-Shirt Quilts Made Easy Review by Holly JohnsonMartha DeLeonardis
American Quilter’s Society
PO Box 3290
Paducah, KY 42002-3290
My mother has saved t-shirts from us girls for decades now, always preparing to make us memory quilts, but has never quite gotten around to starting. I saw this book just before she was coming across the country to visit us for a week and knew that it would make a great project for us during the stay! Admittedly, we did not make an actual quilt during the visit, because we had so many other things to do with the family, but it was helpful in making some good in-roads.
The book begins with a little bit about quilting and t-shirt quilts themselves, as well as the author’s interest. The first section, Hints & How-Tos, covers the basics of piecing together a quilt top. It talks about the tools and accessories to have handy when beginning the quilting process, as well as different types of fabrics and how to work with them. One challenge with t-shirt quilting is that the fabric is stretchy, so there is quite a bit about stabilizing the fabric and making it work correctly. This section also covers tricky steps, such as cutting pieces into curves, and offers up some cute finishing touches!
The second section covers the projects themselves. The regular, block-pattern t-shirt quilt is shown, but is accompanied by a wide variety of project ideas, ranging from easy to very difficult. There are ideas for girls, boys, babies, and memory quilts (for those who have passed), in addition to many gender-neutral ideas. This section is followed by a gallery of project pictures, additional resources for finding more information, and a section about the author.
One of the appendices is the section with Easy Planning Guides. It is this section that makes the book quite valuable, as it is full of helpful charts and block guides. It compares the different quilt designs offered (How many blocks will each need? How many shirts will each need?). It also provides the charts for one to design a unique quilt. One of the charts compares the standard quilt sizes, indicating how many blocks and shirts will be required to make each size.
The patterns presented include both the ‘standard’ t-shirt quilt, as well as many creative alternatives that we had not seen anywhere else. The book also includes very simple explanations, breaking each step into its smaller steps for those new to quilting. There are pictures and diagrams sprinkled throughout the book. One of the most invaluable pieces of this book was the worksheets and charts at the back of the book – they take the math / guesswork out of this project, breaking down exactly how many shirts you’ll need to create each design in each size (ie, twin, queen). This is a HUGE help!
One disappointment is that it doesn’t tell you how to actually do the quilting itself. This book is all about making the quilt tops, but you will still need to get the backing and do the quilting part. It includes every step you’ll need for making those quilt tops, though, including tips for stabilizing your shirts / fabric while arranging the layout and putting the pieces together.
I sent the book home with her, to finish working on the quilts, and look forward to seeing the masterpieces! Already, I’ve begun saving shirts from my own children, with the goal of making them memory quilts one day, too. I imagine this book will be something that we girls pass around and use for that task once we have seen just how beautiful our own are. I’m so grateful to have found the book that was an impetus for getting this project started!
-Product review by Holly Johnson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2018