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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Baseball Tee Shirt Quilt

About a week ago, I mentioned my tee shirt quilt. It’s my biggest project I have underway right now. I’ve been saving my son’s tee shirts for a very long time with the intention of making quilts out of them someday. When I was in Omaha this summer, a couple other moms and I were in a laundromat washing baseball uniforms. Both of them started talking about how they want to make or have made a quilt from their son’s baseball tee shirts. They wanted to have this done before the boys go off to college in a year. I realized that my “someday” quilt project should start soon.

Not long after we got home from Omaha, I got out all my old tee shirts. (I have all of them in a spare closet . I had already sorted them by subject – baseball, soccer and other themes.) I even went through my son’s closet to see what other baseball tee shirts I could find. I found one or two more that he hadn’t worn in a while and were from before high school. I rounded up all the shirts from when he played on his team, the A’s, up through 8th grade – uniforms and tee shirts from tournaments.

Baseball tee shirts
I looked for pictures of tee shirt quilts online and found quite a few. Although I’ve seen some nice ones, I didn’t want to make a quilt that had 12 or 15 tee shirt panels, all the same size, with sashing between each panel. I wanted my quilt to have all different sizes of blocks, depending on the size of the design on the shirt. So first I measured and recorded the size of the design portion on every shirt. Next I cut out each design piece to scale using quarter inch graph paper. I let each square equal one inch of tee shirt. I wrote a description on each cut out piece so I would know which shirt it came from.

Since I had many white tee shirts, some gray ones, and also green and gold uniforms, I wanted to spread the colors out throughout the quilt, so I then colored each graph paper piece with colored pencils to match the color of the shirt. I taped four pieces of graph paper together into a large rectangle and started playing around with ways to arrange my blocks on it. My first goal was to get all the different sized pieces to fit together somehow without a lot of extra space between blocks. Then I would move pieces around to distribute the colors evenly if I needed to.

My first quilt layout
When I found an arrangement that fit the pieces together fairly well, I noticed something that gave me an idea. A lot of my smaller blocks, many of which contained the player number from uniforms and were colored blocks, ended up stacked above each other. This arrangement was sort of a diagonal line. It reminded me of the leg of a capital A, so I wondered if I could put all those colored blocks together in an A shape (for Joe’s team, the A’s) and fill in the rest with the white and gray pieces.

Since I kind of liked the layout I had, I took a picture of how I had the graph paper blocks arranged in case I wanted to go back to it. Then, after all that work, I took all the pieces off and started over by making my A with the colored pieces. I filled in around the A with white pieces and ended up putting all my gray pieces along the top and bottom edges of the quilt. There were a few more gaps between pieces since I had to work around the jagged leg of the A, but I thought I could fill in those places with other fabric or maybe even some sort of pieced blocks.
A shape layout
A shape layout with lines crawn
I had extra space around each block, so I drew lines around the blocks on the big graph paper to start determining where the seams would go and how big I would need to cut the blocks. I wrote the finished dimension of each block on the large graph paper. I also numbered the back of each cut out block piece and wrote the number in the appropriate spot on the large graph paper so I would know which block went where.

My next task was to start cutting. I added one inch to each dimension when cutting to allow for half inch seams. For each block, I cut a piece of interfacing slightly larger than my cut size, fused it to the wrong side of the tee shirt and cut out the piece. I figured I would go back and square up each block to the exact size later. And since I had allowed some extra fabric in each block initially, after I laid them all out I could make small adjustments here and there after I laid all my blocks out if I wanted. So exact size blocks was not my goal yet. After I cut out a block, I taped its little cut out block to my large graph paper so I could keep track of which blocks had been cut out and which I had left to do.

Some of the uniforms were made of mesh. I did not want white interfacing to show through the little holes, so I bought matching solid fabric and attached it to the wrong side of the mesh using Stitch Witchery. I liked the way those blocks turned out.

Tonight I finished cutting out my blocks (except for the last one that will be from a baseball towel that could use one more washing. ) Since I had my paper quilt blocks taped to my large graph paper, I could easily carry it around. I laid all my blocks out on the floor to see how they looked together. Here’s what they look like. Blocks laid out on floor
Remember, they have not been cut to their final size yet and were cut very roughly and a little larger than needed. I like the way they look, but I’m going to see if I can cut down the overall size a bit. Currently, my design is 5’8” wide and 7’2” long, which fits the size of a larger twin quilt or smaller full size quilt. Since I have quite a bit of extra space around the design of every block, I want to see if I can cut out some of that space and reduce the overall quilt size. That will be my next task.

I’m happy to have all the interfacing and cutting out done. I’ve been working on that for over a week in my spare time. Stay tuned for my next report on my quilt progress. Now that I’m home more and that I’ve made this my top priority project at home, I intend to keep making good progress on it.

1 comment:

  1. I am just in Awe. This is so awesome, and precious -- your son (and his kids, and thier kids!) are going to treasure this quilt! What a great project!!! thank you for sharing the detailed steps you took to plan it into being! I cant wait to see the final work of art!
    Happy Crafting!