Saturday, June 8, 2013

New Quilt

Well, I have fallen well short of my goal to post about redoing my wardrobe.  I should have known I would.  I have to say I do lack a certain discipline when it comes to work.  I work better under hard deadlines.  I also have a tendency to jump around.  I am always amazed at those people that can work with singular determination and concentration on one subject, be it quilting, painting or a particular field of study such as genetic algorithms.  I get, not so much bored, as worn out and needing a change of venue rather than sticking to one thing with single mindedness.

But I digress.  The point being, I have not worked on any wearables in weeks.  The end of the school year is upon me.  I worked all week in the school doing end of year kind of activities with different grades, I have run my son here and yonder to soccer practice, and have tried to get a few things together to send to school for end of year parties and other such things.  I have one more full day of school which gives me one more full day to myself, then summer is here.  I will have little time for weaving or quilting, and will spend a lot of time in the car shuffling children to camps.  I won't miss having to get up at the crack of dawn to get lunches ready and drive to school.  I love a slower pace.  My daughter sure won't mind the longer mornings, she is a little night owl who hates to go to bed and hates to get up early.

In the meantime, I ordered new sheets for our bed, something I haven't bought in years.  The old ones were wearing out, so I replaced them with linen sheets.  Summer is almost here and our down comforter is just a bit too hot to sleep under.  Last year I decided I would make a quilt for our bed and started cutting up old dress shirts that my husband had worn out and that I had been stashing away for a couple of years.  The pieces then sat for a while until last month, motivated by my new sheets I started cutting out pieces again.

 I had seen a beautiful pillow in a magazine years ago made by a quilter named Richard Killeaney.  He was featured in Organic Living magazine years ago, and I cut out the article and saved it.  The magazine went defunct years ago, but is now reincarnated as Motherearth Living magazine.  You can read the article online here,  and here is the photo that got me started thinking about a men's shirt quilt.

The pillow sitting on top of the stack is made from men's shirts.  I loved the look and it stuck in my mind as a project that I might someday get around to doing.  Once I started to think about the quilt, I searched for images online and found another image of a quilt he had done with men's shirts.   I thought this quilt was stunning.  So I set out to make something similar with the shirts that I had onhand.  You can find more of Richard's work here

I cut out 3 inch strips from all the dress shirts I could find, my husband's and my son's.  For a california king quilt I used 10 men's shirts and two boy's shirts.  I ended up sewing it into two sections.  The quilt is about 93 inches long and 105 inches wide (42 strips 2.5 inches wide once sewn together).
Once I had the two sections sewn I laid them out on the floor and found that the one that I had just thrown together was pretty much square, and the one I had started with and sewn with care was totally skewed.  I had already spent two weeks trying to get the quilt top put together, now I had to spend two days taking it apart and two more days getting it square.  I finally got it somewhat square and then search the internet for the best way to put the thing together.  The suggestion was to lay it out and tape it to the floor.  So that is what I did.  I vacuumed the floor, because goodness knows it wasn't clean, and then used a tape measure and string to lay it out square.

Once done with that I put the wool batting on top and spread it out evenly and neatly, and finally I spread out the backing which is a plain cotton cloth.

Finally, to hold it all together, I had purchased 300 quilting safety pins for the job.  I ran out about 3/4 of the way through and had to scrounge for more around the house, but it finally got together.

Now, I am finally quilting the thing.  I thought about having someone else do it on a long arm machine, which may have been a good idea.  But, I didn't want to wait for someone else to get around to quilting it, and I didn't really want to shell out the money to have it done.   I have to admit my quilting skills with something this big are not too good.  I have a bunch of not to straight lines.  Managing a quilt this big in a regular sewing machine  is challenge.  But I am sure that I am the only one (at least I hope so) that is going to realize where all the goofy lines are.  

 At this point, I am almost halfway done.  I have quilted in the ditch, and then down the middle of the stripes.  Next, I will take it to pick out a binding fabric.  I will post the photographs of it when I am done and it is on the bed with my lovely new indigo sheets.


  1. Awesome! Will you post a photo of the whole thing when you finish it? I can't imagine quilting a California King quilt without a long arm sewing machine, but I only know just enough about quilting to know what those terms mean. :)

    Have a great summer, kids or no kids. And I understand about distraction (and I don't have kids!). It can be hard for me to stay on a project with focus. I'm working on it.

  2. I love it! I don't have the patience for big quilts, wish I did. And I certainly wouldn't be able to machine quilt one on an ordinary sewing machine. Well done to you :)