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.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

UFO Finishes for January 2014

After finishing umpteen hundred T-Shirt Quilts and Machine Quilting for the holiday season, I always take a week or two (or three) and work on 'my' stuff.  So far this year, have several finishes to report - Yippee!

Here are a couple of them.

Batik Jelly Roll Race. 
Batik Jelly Roll Race.  Started 2013 –   62  x 74  8.5 yards 2013.  This is one of those Jelly Roll Race quilts.  SUPER easy to piece, not as easy to finish and quilt.  I did join my strips on a 45 degree angle to give it a little more interest.   However,  I did get it done in January.  Added borders, quilted and binding.




18 patch on Point - (started 2006)  67 x 82 .
Does anyone know the name of the pattern?  It's an old pattern.  I saw an old quilt hanging from the ceiling in an old store on the Strand in Galveston when we first moved down here.  This is my version of that vintage quilt seen in Galveston.  The fabrics are Moda brushed cottons from many years ago.  You can see it is still on the machine here, but has since been finished.

Bamboo & Pinwheels Part Deux
Bamboo and Pinwheels Part Deux  –
Started in 2008.   68 x 72  This quilt was the second quilt made from swap blocks with the Thursday Night Bee.  Finished it up by adding borders, quilting and binding.  Did a leafy pattern in gold colored thread that mimics the metallics in the Oriental style  fabrics

Saturday, January 18, 2014

T-Shirt Quilts - Should I or Shouldn't I????

At Shadywood Quilts and T-Shirt Quilts of Texas, we have literally made hundreds and hundreds of T-Shirt Quilts over the last 10 years.  Suffice it to say, that we have a bit of experience in making a successful T-Shirt Quilt.

While we are busy making T-Shirt Quilts for hundreds of folks every year, we have several people that bring us the T-Shirt Quilt TOP for us to finish.  We love taking care of you, but sometimes we cringe when we see the top that the customer wants us to work a miracle on.  Here are some suggestions.

STABILIZER
Usually, the problem is that they have not STABILIZED the T-Shirts before piecing them together.  We use a high quality 100% cotton fusible to stabilize all T-Shirts before including them into a quilt.  This prevents the block from stretching or looking "saggy" in the finished quilt.  While we don't suggest using a heavy-weight polyester, that is still better than NO stabilizer at all.  If you do decide to not use a stabilizer, we will require a stabilizing 'waste' border be added to control the stretching.
SASHINGS
We also always include Sashing and Cornerstones at no additional charge.   We always press the seams away from the T-Shirt towards the sashing to reduce bulk.  The cornerstones help us line the blocks up nice and even.
BATTING
The finished T-Shirt Quilt does not have to be heavy and cumbersome when it is complete.  Use a high quality 80/20 (80% cotton, 20% Polyester) batting.  Don't go 'cheap' on the batting (or any of the fabrics) when making a T-Shirt Quilt (or any quilt for that matter).   Make sure your quilter does an 'all-over' pattern or 'pantograph'.  There is no reason not to quilt through the T-Shirts.   You want the quilt to be securely quilted so that it can hold up after years and years of loving use and laundering.  Our favorite battings are Hobbs and Legacy brands.

In most cases, stitching through the emblems does not cause any problems for the quilter.  However, sequins and crystals can wreak havoc with the longarm machine and it's needles.  Be aware that the 'hopping foot' cannot go over these items and may cause the stitching to go around the 3-dimensional object and corrupt the quilting.  'Puff' paint also causes problems, and if you think about it, is not very pleasant if you put your face on it!!
THREAD
We have been asked to use 'invisible' thread.  First of all, no thread is invisible.  It might a translucent shade that blends really well, but we really don't know how well the nylon or polyester thread will hold up to repeated washings and visits to a hot dryer.  We always use neutral colored thread, more on the light side that won't detract from the shirts.  Most popular colors that we use are a light grey or a light tan color. 
QUILTING
Be realistic.  If you are not familiar with machine quilting on your domestic machine, let a professional quilt your quilt.  PLEASE don't tie your quilt or just stitch around the squares.  We have had so many people bring their quilts to use to fix after well meaning moms, aunts or grandmothers have tried to do.  It really does not cost that much, and the recipient will be much happier with the result.