Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Using a T-Shirt Quilt For Fundraisers

Many organizations use T-Shirt Quilts to help raise money. A great looking and well made T-Shirt quilt will typically draw in donors. There are two typical scenarios for raising money with a T-Shirt quilt: the auction or the raffle.

Whether your auction is 'silent' or 'live', it is not always the best way to raise the most money for a T-Shirt quilt. Typically, a T-Shirt quilt sold at auction does not bring in as much money as a quilt that was raffled. Also, consider that only ONE person is paying (donating) money in an auction. Although we have word that one quilt we made was raffled for a little over $31,000 for the Ronald McDonald House  a few years ago.   Many schools report that  they can count on at least $2500 for the quilts that they raffle.

Raffle / Tin-Can Raffle
Having participated in many fundraisers with our local quilt guilds over the last 20+ years, I have some experience with what results in a successful raffle of a quilt. Of course, check with your state or locals laws about 'raffles' or 'donations'. As I understand Texas law, we (a non-profit organization) can hold one fund-raiser each fiscal year. That being said, our local quilt guild sponsors a quilt show every other year, and part of the fund-raising efforts include a quilt raffle of a quilt, AND a Tin-Can Raffle. I'll go into both.

Quilt Raffle
You provide the t-shirts pertaining to your school or organization, and we give back a finished quilt for you to auction. This entails selling tickets over a period of time, then culminates in a drawing - usually at a gala or some other event.

Tin-Can Raffle
What our quilt guild finds as a very successful money raiser is the Tin-Can Raffle. The Tin Can Raffle consists of many baskets/packages that you can win with the purchase of raffle tickets. You drop your raffle tickets into your desired item's "tin can" and one winning ticket is randomly
pulled at the end of the night.

Consider the option of a gift certificate for a second 'tin-can' raffle.  Rather than a quilt that has generic t-shirts from the charity, the gift certificate allows the raffle winner to select their own t-shirts to include in the quilt.  We have had a number of raffle winners come and buy additional quilts.

Planning For Upcoming Event

It will take more time to gather all the needed T-shirts and to have a T-shirt quilt made than you might expect. Give at least 4 weeks to collect the T-shirts and 6 weeks to have a quilt made. Don’t forget that you need to add in time to display the quilt before the event or gala.

Quilt Topic
A T-shirt quilt used in a fundraiser needs to appeal to those attending the fundraising event. A Mickey Mouse T-shirt quilt probably would not fetch as much money as the high school quilt using t-shirts from the school or charity doing the event.  Be sure to carefully consider your audience. 

Type of Event
Since a T-shirt quilt sold at silent auctions generally doesn’t bring in as much money as a quilt that was raffled or at a live auction, you might limit quilts that are donated for auctions.   Of course a raffle is a little more work than an auction. If you  purchase a T-Shirt quilt for your event, then the only way to recoup the cost of the quilt is to sell a lot of raffle tickets, or have a good auctioneer!

Type or Style of T-Shirt Quilt
The style of T-shirt quilt will also determine the amount of money you can raise with it. A T-Shirt quilt from T-Shirt Quilts of Texas are proven winners.  The conservative style  appeals to almost everyone.    Random style quilts are confusing to most bidders and seem to be a jumbled mess.  Most bidders want to see something that pertains to 'their child'  for something safe to bid on.  One of our more popular events is an Auburn Alumni annual gala.  They usually select a 'throw' sized quilt, generic shirts (meaning not a particular focus), but represent the school with commonly seen t-shirts and Auburn orange and blue colors.

Are you contemplating a new way to raise funds for your organization? Consider using a T-Shirt Quilt as part of your plans. T-Shirt Quilts of Texas does make a limited number of quilts each year at a discounted rate for non-profits.

How can we help you make money with a T-Shirt quilt? Give us a call; we would be happy to consult with you.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What is Difference Between Quilt and a Blanket?

So, you want to have a T-Shirt Quilt made from your shirts.  How do you select from what seems like hundreds of tee-shirt or T-Shirt Quilt makers?

Rather than looking for a 'local' t-shirt quilt maker - lets figure out  whether you are getting a quilt or a blanket.

What is a T-Shirt QUILT?

First of all, you need to understand the difference between a QUILT and a BLANKET.    According to the dictionary: 

kwilt/ noun:quilt;   a warm bed covering made of padding enclosed between layers of fabric and kept in place by lines of stitching, typically applied in a decorative design.
ˈblaNGkət/ cover completely with a thick layer of something.
That is interesting - 'A layer of something' - that is what you need to be on the lookout for. Read the details on any website and if they bother to tell you what they put on the back, you'll see things like "a brand new sheet" or "fleece".  

Fleece is usually a keyword meaning - no batting. To cut costs, some non-professionals with use fleece ($3 bucks a yard at Joann's) instead of a layer of batting and layer of cotton backing fabric. Keep in mind that the top of your quilt is mostly cotton, and fleece is usually a polyester.

The 'new sheet'  should really raise a red flag.  Remember those cheap sheets you had when you were first on your own that made those little nubbies?   At least ask them what the thread count is for the sheets.   You can have a quilt with a sheet for the backing, it is just not recommended.  

Keep in mind that professional quilters will have a wholesale account with one or more fabric distributors, and shouldn't be depending on a 40% off coupon from Joann's.   They should provide quilt shop quality fabrics, batting and other supplies needed to complete your custom t-shirt quilt. 

At T-Shirt Quilts of Texas, we have over 500 bolts of fabrics to select the best color combinations for your special quilt.  We only use the highest quality materials to when making your quilt, and refuse to compromise on quality to save a few dollars. 

Sunday, November 09, 2014

You did WHAT with my T-Shirts?

There are a lot of folks out there making T-Shirt Quilts.  Or rather, should I say t-shirt comforters or blankets.    There is a new company out there professing to be the 'cheapest' on the web.  I have had several of those 'cheap' blankets come to my shop with either the mom in tears because the t-shirts were ruined, or the recipient in tears because the 'blanket' was awful....  Whatever the issue, you just know that this 'blanket' was done poorly, and you know it will never be used or displayed in public.   
One of those  other 'blankets'.

Is there any hope?   We have reconstructed many quilts that were a big disappointment made by other non-professionals.  While this is not our main business, we do understand that sinking feeling when getting  a horrible quilt/blanket/comforter.

 Generally, these are the styles of quilts/blankets/comforters. 

  • Professionally Machine Quilted -  This is a professionally quilt edge to edge pattern that evenly covers the quilt without distracting from the t-shirts. The stitches are consistent and the pattern is consistent across the quilt
  • No quilting at all - The quilts from Project Repat boast that they are the cheapest, and there is a reason.  They don't use batting, they don't quilt it, they don't stabilize the shirts, they don't bind the quilt, they don't use real fabric for the backing.
  • Minimal quilting   -   Non Professionals who are making quilts on their kitchen table, or doing some random loop de loops in a messy manner. 
  • Too much Quilting - How can that be?   While well intentioned, too much quilting is just as distracting as not enough quilting.  T-shirts that are quilted too densely (and especially those without a stabilizer) will end up with 'squoosed' quilting.  That is a technical term for pleats and puckers.   We are the only company that use 100% cotton stabilizer to prepare your shirts for a lifetime of use and wear. Most don't use any stabilizer or use a man made polyester material (such as Pellon or Thermoweb). 
  • Tied or no quilting
  • Tied - Oh my.  this is what my great-grandmother used to do for utilitarian quilts.  At least she put the ties a couple of inches apart where they might do some good.    One quilt that I got in for a makeover had a total of 6 (as in SIX) ties to hold an entire quilt together. 
  • Other - This is what we lovingly refer to as 'creative quilting'   This is means that the maker used one or more methods of assembling a quilt.   Sometimes we can't even figure out the method. 
Can YOUR Quilt Get a Makeover?

Really, the easiest quilts to do a makeover are the ones that are tied or have the least amount of quilting.   The 'non-professional' quilters make inconsistent size stitches and the pattern is all over the place. 
 What we can Fix

 Your choice whether we re-piece the entire quilt, or leave it as is, and add a stabilizer, borders and new backing fabric.  We use fabrics called 'Tone on Tones' which are great for hiding everyday wear such as pet hair and lint.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What Do Quilters Do On Vacation?

Why Quilt of course!

Well, my StashBuster friends will understand.  There is nothing like a new grand-baby to get the grandma juices flowing.

While spending three weeks in Atlanta helping out with the kiddos, Our first stop was Little Quilts in Alpharetta.  I managed to indoctrinate - I mean that 2 of my grand-daughters picked out their fabrics for their ''big girl" beds.  Julia picked 'Kaffe' type fabrics, Chloe picked all BLUES...  What??  I thought she was pink and purple!!  She is growing up.

I am using the same pattern for both quilts, but using the colorways that the girls picked.  I am using the Moda Bake Shop"Jelly Roll Turnover.

Second stop was at Tiny Stitches, where I picked up several Christmasy fat quarters to make Figgy Pudding, a pattern at the Moda Bakeshop.  This little quilt shop had some nice fabrics, but just found the fabrics for this quilt.

Then, because you can just have one, or two, or even three projects going at the same time, I also started a Double Irish Chain quilt using 2 inch strips with a Cheddar Yellow, red and Kona Snow.  Not sure how big I will make it but I have plenty of fabric to make it a large as I want.  Really need some bed sized quilts instead of the lap sizes I've been doing the last several years.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Retreat Recovery Mode

All you quilters know what it is like to go on retreat.  You look forward to it for months, you get projects lined up that you want to start.  You get what is needed to finish up a project (aka UFO), then the big weekday (or weekend) comes and you sew and sew and sew some more.  Well, yeah, we do some eating, talking and margarita drinking, but we do a LOT of sewing.

I was with several longtime friends, Barb, Linda and Sharon - all original FML members.  Linda has moved to San Antonio, but she always makes time for us, and we get artsy input from her.  I think this is the first retreat where I finished more tops than Sharon.  I don't think she took it too well.  She has been reigning TOP FINISHING DIVA for several retreats now.  She did bow down at one point!!

The three quilt tops pictured were all quilted and completed shortly after we got back. 

 I think I ended up finishing 5 quilt tops.  Not all are pictured, (a few were customer quilts).  Sharon finished four.

This third picture is what I have name 'Dream Quilt"  I guess finishing it is 'in my dreams'.  One day I will finish it.  It is one of my oldest (but most favorite) UFO's.  All she needs, is a border and quilting.

Oh, we were at Diane Anderson's Quilters Cabin TOO (the log cabin just down the lane from the original Quilters Cabin.   This place is great, because there are no minimums on how many people you have - it is per person - per night.  Book early, because she fills up quickly...

First Quilt, Last Quilt

While looking for pictures to update my website, I ran across a picture of my first quilt that I finished in 1979. You know, the one that you make all of the mistakes on. It was definitely a learning experience. We were in upstate (Plattsburgh) New York. I had never heard of a quilt shop, no Cloth World or Joann's. I had a McCalls quilting magazine, found a pattern called Aunt Sukeys quilt. The picture at the left shows it shortly after it was finished. It has been washed a gazillion times, and 'does' look the worse for wear. BUT, it was hand-quilted, in spite of having the thickest poly batting that I could find and a 200 thread count sheet on the back.

This next quilt is the last 'big' quilt that I've finished recently. Had it in the Tri-county Quilt show in Feb. 2014. Proud to say it won a ribbon. This one is called Chasing Chevrons, and is done totally in Flannels. If you look through my quilts you will see that I love working with flannel. These quilts end up being the softest, warmest quilts ever.

Just did the math - 35 years! Maybe I know what I am doing by now...

Thursday Bee - March Meeting

I've been a member of the 'Thursday Bee' for almost 10 years.  Each year we come up with different ideas for celebrating birthdays.  Since there are 12 of us, you would think everyone would have the courtesy to spread their birthdays out one per month, but no, several of us share many months, so we celebrate quarterly.  We decided to make a pot holder from chosen themes to honor the birthday gal.

The first of the "birthday" potholders were given to Connie B., Michelle M. and Linda G..  What an amazing and creative group of quilters.  No two potholders were alike--themes, sizes and fabrics were very diverse.  Our next reveal is in June--the anticipation is growing!

Monday, February 17, 2014

UFO's Multiply Like Rabbits!!

Hubby and I have been on a purging binge.  When we moved a little over a year ago, a LOT of stuff landed in HIS barn.   The last couple of weeks, we have been going to Goodwill, local antique shops, listing stuff on eBay and Amazon.  Oh, also donated a bunch of stuff to Tri-County Quilt Guild for the upcoming quilt show  and had a hugely successful Fabric By the Pound sale.

Why is it that now I feel like I have even MORE 'stuff' than before?  My quilty UFO list is now up to a grand total of 50 items - although I do have 13 finishes for 2014.    But, 2 steps forward - one (or three) steps back!   already have about 4 or 5 NEW STARTS for 2014.
  • We had our first Blockbuilders meeting of the year last week, and swapped blocks, and decided on next swap.
  • Saw another pattern that I just HAVE to do.
  • Found out having a new grand baby in August
  • Pinterest - OMG.  Need I say more?
Always need a break after the new year.  Going on a quilt retreat next week at Quilters Cabin in Tomball TX.  Yeah, yeah, I know, I took a break for a couple of weeks after the Christmas Holidays.  So what??  I work hard, I deserve it.   Of course, Hubby thinks every time I leave the house I am going to a retreat.  I'll still keep him - he does treat me like a queen - or is that a Diva?  Have a bunch of projects lined up to work on.  Always take way more than I can possibly get done, but you never know what you might be in the mood to work on.

Speaking of UFO's and finishing.  Did finish up a couple of UFO's - got them submitted for the upcoming Quilt Show, so can't show pictures yet.  Literally, finished the binding and ran them over to the church to turn them in.   Will get pictures of them hanging.  We have a great venue for the show, and last I heard there were 187 entries turned in.

The cold stuff has finally moved to the areas of the country where they expect it to be.  We have had 70's temps the last few days.  Even turned on the A/C in the car over the weekend.  Ready to start planting.  Hubby made a couple of new flower beds, and Houston Garden Center and even Lowes did not have bedding plants out yet.  Hope that does not mean we have any more freezes coming.  SO ready for spring.