Wednesday, July 03, 2019

You Did WHAT With my T-Shirts?

You Did WHAT With my T-Shirts?

10 Biggest Mistakes In Creating A T-Shirt Quilt 

T-Shirt quilts are a work of art. They are the scrapbook you can sleep under. You have a drawer full or a box of treasured tee shirts that you have been collecting over the years. Maybe they are school, sports or vacation shirts.

You've heard about t-shirt quilts but don't have any idea about how to get one made.
There are SO many t-shirt quilt/blanket makers out there. (More on difference between a quilt and a blanket) There are good t-shirt quilts and the not-so-good results.

Here are 10 of the most common mistakes made by the non-professionals, and even some professionals.

Be sure to ask your quilt-maker lots of questions and ask to view examples of their work.

Workmanship - there are so many aspects to good workmanship.

  • - Do the seams run straight?
  • - Are there tucks in the seams?
  • - Are there holes or missed stitches in the seams?
  • - T-shirts all inserted in the same manner (up and down and not sideways)

Look closely at the photos, and you can tell if the quilt-maker takes care when creating your quilt.
T Shirts cut out in random sizes - T-shirts come in all shapes and sizes. Are the logos of the shirt centered, or just whacked off? Sometimes you will see a bit of the collar in the block. That is fine, and I'll bet the image is centered in the block.

Cheap Materials - Cheap quilts = Cheap materials. Just a fact. In order for a quiltmaker to offer cheap quilts, they have to skimp somewhere. Usually, this is in the materials used. Don't go for the solid colored fabrics, fleece, or other polyester fabrics. Ask if the quilt maker used 'quilt shop quality' fabrics.

Shirts are not stabilized

Some quilters skimp on this important part of your quilt. How old ARE those t-shirts? Is there wear and maybe a few little holes from years of use? A GOOD stabilizer will also add life and many more years of use to those most-loved t-shirts. Don't let your quilt-maker whack your beloved tshirts into tiny bits of fabric that have no relevance to the theme of the quilt. (read more about Order vs. Chaos).

Cheap Batting

Thicker and fluffier is not better! The really thick (high loft) battings are usually made of 100% Polyester. This equates to being HOT to sleep under as polyester does not 'breathe'. You want a quality batting that is at least 80% cotton. Some polyester is OK, as it helps the batting hold together. All cotton battings will not hold up to multiple launderings.

Seam intersections not matching

When four corners meet. it should be perfect. Many times when there is no stabilizer, the t-shirts are stretched and don't match up. Intersections should be flat and not forming 'volcanoes' (quilters technical term for those lumpy intersections). Read more about quilty technical terms.

Poor design layout

Whether traditionally pieced or random/chaos pieced. If the layout is not pleasing, you won't be happy with the quilt. You won;t understand 'why' you don't like it, you just know that it does not 'look right'. A professional quilter will have experience and an eye for layout. This only comes with experience. More about Traditional quilts vs. Random Quilts.

No sashing or Cornerstones

Sashings and cornerstones are an important part of creating a flat and even quilt. The sashing adds stability to the t-shirts, and the cornerstones, while adding a nice design element helps make sure the rows and columns all line up in a straight lines.

Not Quilted

What is holding the layers of your quilt together? Tying? - not a good option as it is usually too far apart to hold the quilt layers together for the long haul. You want to be able to cuddle, drag around and launder this quilt for YEARS to come. Professional quilting adds a pleasing all-over design to the quilt that does not take away from the t-shirts, but adds that finishing touch that makes you know you have a quality quilt.

Not finished properly

Binding is the term for that outer fabric covering the raw edges of the quilt. This is just as important as the other elements of YOUR quality memory t-shirt quilt. Some quilts/blankets just roll the backing up and over the outer edge to cover the raw edges. The really cheap blankets just do what is called the 'pillowcase' method as they literally just sew around the outside edges and call it good.

You can still have a quilt made with high quality materials, but if the maker is not skilled, you will still have a disappointing quilt. Please do your research, and find out how many quilts your potential quilt-maker has actually made. Make sure you the t-shirt quilt you get is one you will be proud of.
To learn more about having a quilt made from your tee shirts, download our free T-Shirt Quilt Buyer's Guide. Learn about what to look for when you are ordering a t-shirt quilt.

Back to Resource Page

T-Shirt Quilts of Texas is a full service professional business that can help you complete your quilt at most any stage. We also 'fix' quilts made by non-professionals. If you get started, and don't feel you are going to be able to complete your quilt. Take pictures of your quilt in process, email it to us, and we can let you know if we can help you get it finished.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

You Want Your TShirt Quilt When?

Wow, almost back into the swing of things after the big Christmas Rush of 2014.  First of all,  thank you to everyone that that trusted us with their t-shirts last year.  We are blessed. 

That being said, we run into the same problem every year during peak times.  The customer believes that we will start working on their quilt the moment they leave our shop, and will do nothing else until it is complete.  Um, no. 

Our 'normal' turnaround time is 4 or 5 weeks.  Now, that seems like a long time, but that is just reality.  At peak times like graduation and Christmas, it definitely takes 4 weeks.  But why so long??

OK, let me list just a few reasons:
  • The phone.  OMG.  Yesterday, I had 12 robo calls from the same number.  (I re-dialed it one time and it was some foreign voice saying they were Microsoft Support.  Really??  Fraud alert..... Microsoft NEVER calls anyone..... ), 3 other  'Private' callers, with no one at the other end, and multiple other phone calls from valid customers either scheduling a drop off or pick up.  Just a part of doing business.
  • Backlog.   When you came into the shop, you even commented on how many tubs/jobs we had going on. We do the jobs in the order they come in.  We do NOT move YOUR job to the top of the list.   All of our projects are important.  Yours is also.

    We had one day last November where we received 18 T-Shirt/Memory quilt projects in ONE day.
  • Customers.   Yes, we love you.  You love your shirts.  You are excited about getting your quilt.  But please, don't call and ask 'how is my quilt coming along?'   Unless you have a deadline (that we know about up front), and it is getting close to the date.  Rest assured that your quilt is coming along just fine. 

    We do not work on one quilt from start to finish.  For the amount of quilts that we do; that is just not efficient.  We do process shirts as they come in, but that mostly means that we get it in the computer, and print paperwork.  If the shirts are mailed in, we shoot an email letting you know that the shirts have arrived safe and sound.   The rest of the processes are done in steps. 
  • Your crisis is not our emergency.  We try to work with everyone so that everyone is happy.  If you call in 4 days after dropping off your shirts because you decided to celebrate Christmas on December 3, instead of the end of month.  Well, we might have a problem.    The squeaky wheel does NOT get a quilt.  (Oops - did I say that out loud?)  
  • Life.  Believe it or not, quilters have (or try) to have a life.  Ask my friends.  I disappear around Quilt Market time (end of October), not to be seen until the New Year.  That is because we  are working 12 to 14 hour days on your quilts the last few months of the year.  We then take off (as in not even turning on the lights in the shop) until New Years Day, when I generally host an all-day sew-in for my quilting buddies.
I am really not complaining, and don't want to sound rude - (which sounds rude), but just trying to explain the process. 

So if you are planning on a special t-shirt quilt for someone, try to plan ahead to ensure your quilter has plenty of time to get your gift back to you before your event.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tied Quilts - Can They Be Quilted?

Tied Quilts - Can They Be Quilted?

Example of a quilt that has been tied.
Most of the time YES. Most of the time,  it is a T-Shirt quilt that was commissioned  by a non-professional. They did not know what they were doing.  Because we have a 'soft spot' for T-Shirt quilts, we offer a special rate for quilting these type of quilts. If you use the Crazy Puzzle pattern- scaled to fit your quilt, we offer a special discounted rate over our usual rates.  And no, we are not prejudiced because you tried to do it yourself.

As one of the premier 't-shirt quilt' creators in the country, we get a lot of projects where we 'fix' quilts that were done by the non-professionals or well-intentioned family or friends.  Because these folks do not have the equipment that quilting professionals use, they end up working on a project that is beyond their capabilities.

What We Offer

We do ask to see the quilt in person or photos via email to evaluate whether we can help you with your project. In most cases, the results have been awesome and the owners have been thrilled with the results.

Example where we fixed quilting
by non-professional.
Depending on what the original 'quilter' used to tie the quilts, there might be holes in the fabric that might not be acceptable to the owner. I have fixed quilts that were 'tied' with yarn. This can leave a larger hole in the quilt, that might not go away with the usual ironing or squirt of water. However, usually the holes disappear with the first laundry or a few shots of steam from an iron.

In some cases, there is a bit of 'fullness' that results from the their original quilt. In this case there we might not be able to 'quilt it out'.

If you have a tied quilt that you would like to have quilted, please contact us to discuss it. We had one quilt that came in, that only had 4 ties in the entire quilt, others a tie every couple of inches.  These are the easy ones to fix.

In some cases, the crafter tried to quilt the quilt themselves. In many cases we 'CAN' fix it.  The images show where they tried to quilt 'in the ditch' .  In this case we did not take out the quilting, just loaded it on the longarm machine and added our own quilting.  See the straight lines of quilting?  That was the original quilting.

Transforming Your Tied Quilt

  • Do not remove the ties first. We will do that as each row is ready to be quilted. It may be that all ties are removed before quilting, and we will get a better result from removing the ties before loading the quilt on the machine.
  • Go ahead and remove one tie to determine if the resulting hole is acceptable to you - or not.
  • If repairs need to be made to an older quilt, you should take care of this prior to sending it to be quilted.
  • We can do minor repairs (such as popped seams), but do not count on us doing any major repairs.
  • If a quilt is old and fragile, we reserve the right to not do any machine quilting.
For the most part, we are only doing edge to edge (E2E) or 'panto' style quilting.  Custom quilting takes a lot of time, and in order to accommodate everyone, we have to limit the amount of 'custom' quilting that we accept.

We do have a minimum charge of $50 to do 'anything' to your quilt. This does not apply to batting, backing or binding.  We do not charge a set-up charge, thread charge or other random fees for items that are required to quilt your quilt. (such as a thread charge. Good grief. How can you quilt a quilt without thread or loading the quilt on the machine???)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

T-Shirt Quilt Gift Certificates for The Holidays

Oh no!  You just now figured out that giving a T-Shirt Quilt for Christmas is the best idea you ever had!  Oh wait...  Christmas is just a little over a month away.  Yeah really.  5 weeks.  In the best of times, it takes five weeks to create your special t-shirt quilt.  What to do?

Give a T-Shirt Quilt
Gift Certificate for Christmas
Give a gift certificate.  This way it will be a surprise - AND the best part is that you don't have to figure out what t-shirts you should use.  Most of the time Mom is in the kids closet trying to figure out what t-shirts mean the most to their child.   Or, hubby knowing this will be the best gift ever, does not have a clue how to get started.  Last year, a husband bought a gift certificate thinking that his wife would get the standard 12 block generous throw quilt.   Instead,  she dug out a big box of baby clothes and !had a quilt made from all of the clothes from when the child was newborn to toddler.

Christmas is just a few weeks away.  You can order your Gift Certificate clear up to Christmas Eve and we will email you a  personalized PDF file that you can print out and put under the tree!    What could be easier?

If you are not sure about a t-shirt quilt.  No worries.  We have several quilts already made that you might consider as a gift for that special person.  Just let us know what you are looking for and we will help you find something.