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.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

2015 Quilt Festival Wrap-Up

The largest convention in Houston each year is the  Houston Quilt Festival.  Quilt Mecca.  That is what the locals call the last 10 days of October each year.  I moved to Texas over 10 years ago, and have been attending Market and Festival every year since then.  What is it?

Well, Market  is a credentialed trade show, not open to the general public.    This is a whole different animal and is for quilt shops, book writers, pattern designers, longarm quilters  and other quilting professionals.  While there are several quilt displays, this is just the preamble to Quilt FESTIVAL.

Aaahhh, Quilt Festival.    This is the best of the best.    I remember my first Quilt Festival in 2003 (the first weekend that we had moved to Houston, the moving truck had not even arrived yet).  I went by myself.  Who cares that I  would not know anyone.    I went up and down the rows of quilts, my mouth hanging open.   Oh my,  the next row, how could it be more awesome than the last row...  I was in awe.    THEN, I discovered the vendors.  OMG...  Quilt shops from all over the country in one place.  Fortunately, my birthday is the same weekend.  I called hubby and told him not to worry about any birthday presents.... I had it covered....

Anyway, update to 2015.  My sister-in-law is visiting from out of town, and we are both taking classes.   This year we are commuting from Cypress to downtown Houston (about 30 miles) each day and learning about HOV lanes and Houston construction.    No worries.  We make it to our 8 am classes each morning.  Note to self -  next year bring DOWN JACKETS as classrooms are freezing.  Oh wait.. folks in Houston don't HAVE down jackets as it does not get that cold here!

Friday, November 06, 2015

70 Uses For Leftover Batting

As a longarm quilter I have PILES and PILES of leftover batting scraps. I have lots of uses for these leftover scraps, but here are some other suggestions that I have collected over the years. Some may be similar, but that is OK. Since we first posted this about ten years ago, we have had many suggestions for additional uses for batting scraps. New items added to the end of the list, and some of existing suggestions have been updated.

1. Rough cut a 9 x 12 rectangle to use in your Swiffer - bonus, you can turn it over and use the other side too!

2. Cut into 5" squares to use to make coasters

3. I use small odd shaped pieces to dust with.

4 . Use small piece of batting at your sewing table to collect loose threads ( I keep a stack of randomly cut rectangles at the end of my longarm table to collect thread scraps).

5. have another one at the ironing station to collect threads that you trim off while ironing

6. use them to pre-test thread tension settings by sandwiching pieces between muslin trimmings, cutting them into squares of 6-10 inches and moving the sandwich around under the needle as the machine runs in constant or manual mode and with the longer pieces, you can clamp to the take-up roller (I use PVC pipe tension clamps that I get from Jamie Wallen at the Quilters Apothecary) and lean on the other end with your tummy and also use that to test thread tensions..

More on those muslin sandwiches: use scraps with Muslin to practice machine quilting, but my difference would be that I often zig-zag stitch a bunch of them together to get a bigger piece (on my sewing machine), and this gives me a "challenge piece" because I sew all different types together, and I can see how my practice looks on different battings.

7. Wipe the machine down with it! Several variations on this theme. Cut cotton batting into small squares and keep a stack next to my machine to collect thread snips, and an easy grab to wipe down oil leaks.

8. Make small quilts for use in front of your coffee pot or other places where you get drips!

9. Make quilt as you go placemats.

Another placemat suggestion: I love to use my scraps for placemats for myself and to give as gifts. Cut into approx. 14" x 20" pieces and add to whatever you choose for top and backing. I also use this same size of batting scrap to make strip cut mats. These are easy, fast and help use up my fabric scraps, making great placemats or mats for tables under lamps, plants, etc.

10. Use as a for 'diaper' for your longarm. Tuck a small piece under the bobbin area when my machine is parked. Catches machine oil.

11. Donate the batting scraps to your local senior center where they can be used to make small crafts.

12. Donate scraps to a group of ladies who make raggedy quilts for charity.

13. The Cotton Theory uses small strips of batting. I have made one of the table runners.

14. A small piece of 80/20 batting around the thread in the guide on my serger type adapter *keeps the thread from knotting* or getting loose. Kind of the same idea as the sponge cube on the Gammill.

15. I use my extra batting for my dog kennels and even donate some to the local animal shelter. The practice muslin pieces I donate to the local animal shelter for doggie or kitty blankets.

16. Use small scraps for small projects like pot holders, mug rugs, placemats etc.

17. Our local hospital ladies auxiliary uses batting scraps to make "heart" pillows for heart surgery patients to hold to their chest when they have to cough or (heaven forbid) sneeze. Another idea: they use it for pillows to give to all the children who come in the ER 18. I use batting scraps to pack in boxes when I send a package. It is great because it doesn't weigh as much as newspaper and nothing ever gets broken when wrapped in it.

19. Cut into 5" squares and give them for auction items along with a pattern for one of the 'rag' quilts like the Christmas tree one.

20. Use as a *base for fiber post cards* and journal sized quilts.

21. Wrap a big enough piece *around the seat belt* that bites your neck!

22. Whack off a chunk ('whack off' is technical term!) and safety pin (optional) it to my right shoulder. When I have loose threads, I don't toss them over my shoulder, I toss them TO my shoulder. A larger piece is kinda like a burp cloth. Catches threads!

23. I use them for packing filler when I mail out quilts.

24. If you ever use fusible batting you won't have any left over as [the scraps] can be "pieced" pretty easily. (These are often referrd to as 'franken-batts).

25. My friend uses them to make "envelopes" for holding kits that another friend uses in classes she teaches. Anything over 10" goes there.

26. I have also given them to the Girl Scouts to sew together and use for their first quilts (usually one block pillows)

27. Use them in the winter to "chink" leaky windows or make door draft stoppers.

28. Use for biscuit quilts, raggy quilts, raggy jackets, etc.

29. Wrap it around the broom and use it to knock down the spider webs. (WHAT? you have dust bunnies???- LOL) Just throw it away, no messy broom bristles.

30. Wrap it around that casserole you are taking to the potluck. If it leaks, just throw it away! (96" width goes around a lot of times!)

31. Cut it a bit smaller than your lamp base and protect your table.

32. Use scraps to clean the wheels and tracks, oil on the longarm table.

33. Use to remove chalk marks on quilt tops. [or use 'same' fabric that quilt top is made of. Rub, marks disappear!]

34. I use small, potholder size scraps to erase the black marker lines off my white board. When the batting gets dirty, I just throw it away.

35. Give to friends that use it for stuffing in teddy bears and animals she makes to sell at bazaars and craft sales.

36. I use some of my batting scraps to make quilted purses.

37. Use for making the front portion of your anatomy appear to be more ample than it really is. Batting scraps are MUCH better than socks for this purpose. (Stuff your bra!!!)*** [OK, not sure about this one.. we seem to have plenty of stuffing!!! LOL]

38. Pincushions

39. Fabric Christmas ornaments

40. Christmas stockings

41. Pad photo album cover.

42. Cut batting in 2" by 2" squares bundle a dozen together with ribbon and give them to customers for make-up removal.

43. Give to guild members for craft projects - I try to remember to measure and tag scraps as to size just to know if they are big enough for table runners etc.

44.. I make a 6" quilt block and use the smaller piece of batting with it, quilt it up, bind it and give it!

45. You know the small drawers you can get from Walmart in the tool section that holds your nails, and bolts and washers? I use that for my jewelry. I place small pieces of batting on the bottom of the drawer so my rings, necklaces, and bracelets don't slide around when I pull the drawer open.

46. I have done strip quilts with strips 8" or wider batting just to practice on.

47. I use really small pieces to wipe up scraps of cloth that have dropped on a smooth tile floor.

48. I cut some of the batting into squares to hook my earrings/pins onto for my garage sale...........

49. I have also torn up the poly scraps to use for stuffing or filling of small throw pillows that I made the forms for.(Shred into small pieces for best results)

50. I usually keep the scraps of batting to stuff baby toys.

51. I roll larger pieces and put them at the folds when folding my quilts for storage -- keeps the fabric from breaking down

52. I make TONS of the raw edge quilts and have taught all my relatives to do likewise. We take two 8" squares of fabric and put a 6" square of batting in an X over the sandwich - this makes one block. Then sew all those squares together into a quilt with the raw edges all to one side, either the top or the bottom. Clip the raw edges up to about 1/8 of the seams every 1/4" or so, and wash till it's fluffy. I've also taught school kids to make them, and our church quilting ladies. This is the BIGGEST use of the batting scraps that I have.
53. I use them to *wrap breakables* when mailing items.

54. I place them between my good seasonal glass plates so they don't scratch each other.

55. I sew cotton batting scraps together to make rice bags. Then I either use these hot or cold for soothing my achy body, OR ... I lay them on my quilts to take up the slack while I'm quilting a non-square, non-flat quilt. Kinda like bean bags.

56. I contribute it to anyone that will accept it -- quilt shops, church groups, school groups, relatives, etc. Actually, my trash guys LOVE my scraps. They are always going through the trash cans and rescuing scraps that they want to keep.

57. I occasionally zig-zag scraps to do table runners or wall hangings that I am not particularly concerned about. You can't tell when it's done anyway. ( these are usually called Frankenstein bats!!!)

58. I also sew larger scraps together and use them in my own personal crib-size quilts

59. Use as snow at Christmas for decorating around little trees or your nativity scene.

60. Use in trapunto

61. I made a *small padded camera case* to wrap around my point and shoot camera. Put a little pocket in front for extra memory cards. The case and pocket are kept closed with Velcro and the neck strap comes out of the side of the top alongside the Velcro.

62. Mug Rugs? Coasters? Pot holders?

63. I use small scraps of batting as interfacing in little zipper pouches and they are cute little bags etc... You could also make some cute coasters or maybe a padded strap for a camera?

64. They make great dusting cloths. I cut them to fit on my Swiffer and use them to clean my wood floors.

65. Key Fobs - There are several patterns that use 2.5" strips of batting and it's perfect to use leftovers that you've been hanging on to.

66. Quilted mobile phone cases are a great way to use up little bits

67. If batting is all cotton, you could make a microwave baked potato bag.

68. All cotton batting makes a great Tortilla bag

69. Use batting scraps to quilt Linus Quilts or Nursing Home quilts.

70. Cats LOVE to sleep on batting. Use a big scrap, or piece together scraps to cover the area where your cat likes to sleep! Place it over the couch or chair that they favor.

71. Throw pieces too small for anything else in an old but sturdy pillowcase. Sew the end shut when it's full. Voila. A comfy bed for a cat or small dog

72. Practice your quilting with small sandwiches made from batting scraps.

73. Narrow strips of batting can be used for pretty jelly roll trivets, coasters, place mats and more (based on the popular “Jelly Roll Rug” found here). Cut and collect 2 1/2 strips until you have enough for a project. You’ll find the free “Jelly Rolls Trivets” pattern here.

74. Thinner strips can be used to give structure to straps for tote bags and purses.

75. If you have any batting scraps left (just kidding), tuck pieces of batting into the bottom of flower pots to cover the holes and keep the dirt in.

76. I use narrow batting strips to tie up delicate plants outdoors. The strips are soft and giving and don't damage plant stems!

77. I use them to wrap my Xmas ornaments.

OK, so a few more than 70 suggestions. Always like to give more than expected. But, granted, some are similar. Let me know how YOU use batting scraps in the comment section.

If you would like to know more about batting check out my friend Carol Thelans post about batting or this post I did awhile back - All About Batting

You might also be interested in reading about 10 Ways To Cut A Fat Quarter

NOTE: This is updated from our previous post from several years ago - 60 Uses For Leftover Batting

Shadywood Quilts 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.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

10 Ways to Cut a Fat Quarter

How many of us have a huge pile of fat quarters that you don't know what to do with? You can cut these fat quarters into the popular pre-cuts that fabric shops are offering to make quilts and use them that way.  Popular sizes are  layer cakes (10" squares), charm packs (5" squares), and jelly rolls (2 5" x 44" strips).

As most of you know, fat quarters are a quarter of a yard. But, instead of cutting 9" the width of the fabric (WOF*), it is 18" cut WOF, then that is cut in half. In other words, this is a half yard cut in half lengthwise and then crosswise. The fat quarter should be approximately 18" x 22".

If you are lucky and get a fat quarter from someone who thinks in 'meters' instead of 'yards' you will get a few extra inches in your fat quarter.

*WOF - Width of Fabric

Here are the Numbers:

You can cut the following from one fat quarter:
    1. (99) 2" squares
    2. (50) 2" squares
    3. (42) 3" squares
    4. (30) 3" squares
    5. (20) 4" squares
    6. (16) 4" squares
    7. (12) 5" squares
    8. (12) 5" squares
    9. ( 9) 6" squares
    10. ( 6) 6" squares

      And a Bonus- Number 11
    11. ( 2) 10" squares (not very efficient)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

So You Want To Make A T-Shirt Quilt!

So You Want To Make A T-Shirt Quilt!

While T-Shirt Quilts of Texas would love to make a custom t-shirt quilt for you, sometimes you just gotta do it yourself!

Should You Make Your Own T-Shirt Quilt?

So, you know just enough about sewing that you want to try it yourself. Great. Here are some things to consider.


  • Basic sewing supplies. Rulers, rotary cutter and mat. Seam ripper. Masking tape.
  • Sewing Machine. Basic sewing supplies (thread, scissors, pins, tape measure and so on.)
  • Rotary cutter and mat. You can use scissors, but you need the rotary cutter to get an accurate cut before piecing.
  • Time. Allow 30 - 60 hours depending on your skill and comfort level.
  • T-Shirts. - The more the merrier. But, keep it under control. BIG is heavier and harder to manage.
  • Fusible Interfacing - This is what makes the t-shirt fabric manageable. Don't skip this step. Whether you or a professional quilter is quilting this, this makes the t-shirt fabric easier to work with. Without it, your quilter has to spend more time making the t-shirt fabric lie flat and even.
  • Fabric. Amount depends on size of quilt. PLEASE use good quality fabrics. Don't spend all the time creating this quilt using low quality fabrics.
  • Apply fusible to back of rough-cut t-shirt
  • Batting/wadding. This is usually a 80/20 blend of cotton and polyester, or some folks will use a 100% poly. Your choice.
  • Iron and ironing surface. We use a professional iron press here in the shop, which only takes a couple of seconds per shirt. You will probably have to use a domestic iron. Just follow the product instructions and apply to back of t-shirts.
  • Plastic Square Ruler. Optional, but very helpful to size your blocks.

Creating the Top

  • Lay out the t-shirt pieces into a pleasing design.
  • If you are using sashing, add that to either one side or the bottom of the shirt squares (except the last on in the row/column).
  • Sew together.
  • Add borders if desired. (We get a LOT of t-shirt tops. Many times they have us select the backing and add a border to match the backing).

Finishing Up

  • Quilting. Next, you are going to turn the 'top' into a quilt. A quilt is defined as 3 layers with some sort of stitching holding those layers together. Probably the easiest way to do this is to send that finished top to your longarm quilter. She will probably have batting and backing fabrics available for your convenience.
  • If budget does not allow for a professional longarm quilter, then you can either quilt it on your machine or 'tie' it. We don't recommend tieing it, as the quilt won't be very stable and won't stand up to laundry over time.
  • Binding. The last step is binding. That is the step to finish all the raw edges of the quilt. Again, your longarm quilter should be able to take care of that for a reasonable charge.
There you have it. T-Shirt quilts in a nutshell.

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.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Houston Quilt Market 2015 - Last Day

It's our last day of Quilt Market, and we struggled to squeeze in some last sights before heading out.  We would have stayed until Monday, but we have  to take a day or so to catch up and get ready for Quilt Festival!   We walked the whole show On Saturday, and had to come back this morning  to make sure we didn't miss anything and tried to visit all of our quilty friends.  Thank you for another amazing Quilt Market, Houston!

We checked several of the fabric vendors and have several new fabrics ordered for the new year, as well as re-stocking many of our old favorites. I think you will find that T-Shirt Quilts of Texas has the largest variety of fabrics to choose from, than any other professional  T-Shirt Quilt company in the country.

Paula Barnes, Betty and Mary Ellen
The first stop we made was at Red Crinoline Quilts, with our good friends from Houston Paula Barnes and Mary Ellen Robinson.  they have a new book just being released.

Overview of Market floor
We walked, shopped and checked out all the new fabrics.  Placed orders with several of the fabric vendors like Quilting Treasures, Moda, P&B Fabrics, Troy Fabrics, We walked, shopped and checked out all the new fabrics.  Placed orders with several of the fabric vendors like Quilting Treasures, Moda, P&B Fabrics, Troy Fabrics,customers.

Selecting fabrics with fabric vendor.
Oh, did I mention that there was a little bit of 'weather'?  Part of hurricane Patricia was blowing through.  Totally missed the storm, as we were shopping  at the GRB (George Brown Convention center) and hanging out at the Hilton.

PS- we have a Janome 350E embroidery machine for sale. One year old. Prefer that someone pick it up rather than shipping it.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Photos on Your T-Shirt Quilt

At T-Shirt Quilts of Texas, we have printed photos on fabric for over ten years.  Nothing new about that.  However, we have found that while we can print high resolution quality photos on fabric and set the ink per product instruction, we find that the resulting product quality is not to our satisfaction over a period of time.  We are creating quilts to last a lifetime, and find that the images on fabric 'might not' last as long.  Not good.
National Honor Society Logo 

While we would follow the manufacturer instructions for setting the ink, there were potential problems that we  could not control.  According to the instructions,  you 'should' be able to include the photo in your quilt and launder it with same results as a traditionally pieced quilt.  We had one gal that repeatedly printed the color pictures on her fancy laser printer at work.  Problem was that it HAS to be an inkjet printer and not a laser printer.  We couldn't convince her of that.   The photos she printed and sent in literally faded from the squares about two weeks after the quilt was quilted and completed.  Again, not good.

What we have found, is that most t-shirt quilt owners throw their quilt into the laundry using harsh soaps.  Not surprisingly, that even though we followed the manufacturer instructions, we found that the images are fading much faster than expected.  So, we changed how we do things.  We no longer print the photos on fabric, and have decided to let the experts take care of this aspect of the process.

T-Shirt Quilts of Texas Logo
What did we do?  We have partnered with VistaPrint to print high quality images directly on t-shirts. While Vista-Print only offers shirts in white, gray and black, you can be assured that the resulting product will hold up like the rest of the t-shirts in your quilt.   Of course, you can use any of the many online outlets that let you use your image to print on a t-shirt.  Different companies will offer different color t-shirts if that is what you would like. See the header on our homepage.  It was created at CustomInk so that we could get the orange t-shirt to match our logo.
Customer Image added to T-Shirt

Note-  If you have more than one image to print, just print it on the backside of the same shirt for a discounted rate. 

We are happy to provide this service for you.   We do have to charge for this service due to the time involved.. But, if you are feeling courageous, just click the VistaPrint link. You 'should' get a ten dollar credit towards your purchase.  If you are already a VistaPrint  customer, then go ahead and design your t-shirt online and have it shipped directly to us.  Or, order it ahead of time and include it with your shirts that you send to us.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Choosing Backing Fabric for a T-Shirt Quilt

The term tone on tone refers to a printed fabric that is made by combining different shades and tones of the same color.
Tone on tone fabrics often appear to be solid when viewed from a distance, but their printed motifs become recognizable on closer inspection.  Tone on tone fabrics  add subtle, visual texture to a quilt without the busyness of a multi-color print.
Personally, I rarely use a solid color fabric, because tone on tones serve the same purpose and do not appear as 'flat' as solids. Black is the exception, we do use a deep, dark saturated black as an accent border.
Backing Material

The backing material is the fabric that is seen on the bottom side of a quilt.  At T-Shirt Quilts of Texas we have over 500 bolts of fabric in stock to select that perfect fabric for your quilt.  We don't use solid color fabrics as they have a horrible tendency to show lint,  pet hair and just everyday use.    We use fabrics commonly referred to as 'tone-on-tone'.   These are fabrics that add a visual  'texture'  and 'depth' to a quilt without adding the more cluttered look of a multi-color print or the FLAT color of a solid fabric.  The professional quilting shows up beautifully on both the front and the back of the quilt.A
The binding is the fabric that is sewn around the outside of a T-shirt quilt. You see about ½" of the binding from the top, side and back of a quilt. Bindings are used to cover the raw edges of the 3 layers of the quilt (quilt top, batting and backing materials). Generally, the binding fabric used is the same fabric as used in the quilt.

Note: We do not use white for binding because it is difficult to keep clean while we are working with it and it will show all the dirt. White will quickly become grungy.

At T-Shirt Quilts of Texas we only use the highest quality quilt shop fabrics.  We are quilt-makers and quality of YOUR finished quilt is very important to us.

Friday, September 25, 2015

6 Tips For Selecting A T-Shirt Quilt Maker.

You do a search on Google to find someone to make a t-shirt quilt.  My goodness, there are so many websites, so many styles, so many prices.  How do you know who to select?  What questions should you ask?  How do you select a company to make YOUR custom t-shirt quilt from YOUR treasured t-shirts?
  1. Experience - How many t-shirt quilts has this company made?   Group-On, Crafters, Mom and daughter teams.  ASK how many quilts this company has made.  Over the past 14 years, T-Shirt Quilts of Texas has made several thousand quilts.  Do you really want your quilt made by a beginner?
  2. Materials - What materials are used - Looking at several websites, you'll see such options as "brand new sheet"  or "Fleece" backing.   Look for 100% cotton quilt shop quality fabrics.   The  backing fabric should be the same type of  fabric as the top of the quilt.  That means 100% cotton.
  3. Stabilizer - Stabilizer is very important in making a quilt that will last a lifetime. Ask what type of stabilizer will be used. 
      Here are the choices:
          - Pellon - a Polyester man-made artificial 'stiff' fusible.  There are different weights of polyester, but pretty much always stiff and rough to the touch.
          - NONE - as in NO stabilizer at all.
          - 100% Cotton T-Shirt Quits of Texas is the only company offering this stabilizer in all quilts we create.  It costs a little more, but the results in creating a quilt that will last a lifetime  we feel is worth it. 
  4. Quilting  - Is your quilt "quilted" or "tied" or "nothing"?  Here are the details:
    - Quilted -  Professional machine quilting in an overall pattern and is pleasing to the eye.  Some quilters use a 'scribbling'  type of quilting, and usually  results in a quilt that is not pleasing to the eye, but rather frenzied and chaotic. 
    - Tied - This usually means the provider does not have the equipment or initiative to create a professionally finished quilt*.  They create anywhere from 4 to umpteen 'ties' that is supposed to hold your quilt together, but in reality is a shortcut that leads to destruction once  the quilt is laundered more than a few times.
    - Nothing -  One of the more well known 'repats' company** does not use any batting, stabilizer or quilting.  It's the cheapest product, but 'you get what you pay for".   No batting, no quilting and a fleece backing.   This is a blanket and not a quilt and best to avoid if you want this to last more than a few launderings.
  5. Quilt Finishing- Is the quilt professionally machine quilted?   Is the quilt "tied". Some providers do a random 'scribble' stitch in each block.  This is usually not pleasing to the eye.  A PROFESSIONALLY machine quilted T-Shirt quilt will have a quilting design that covers the quilt in an even pattern and does not distract from the quilt itself.  
  6. Binding - Binding is the final step in finishing your quilt.  There are several methods, some are better than others if you want your quilt to last a little bit or a lifetime.
    • Birthing Style – The quilt top and quilt back are laid right sides together.  They do a quick stitch around the outside except for a few inches.  This is where the 'birthing' term comes from.  They literally turn it inside out, and then top-stitched around the outside edge.   This is considered a very low quality process, and it not recommended for a quilt that you want to last
    • Backing Folded Over to the Front – an inch or more  of the backing material is folded over to the front of the quilt and sewn down. This is what in quilting technical terms is  “quick and dirty”.   This is a sure sign of someone trying to get by with the least amount of work.
    • Traditional Binding – a separate strip of fabric is sewn over the edge of the quilt in a two-step procedure. This is what you want to see! Too Cool T-shirt Quilts uses the two-step binding method with a machine sewn second seam. The photograph to the right shows a traditional binding being sewn onto a T-shirt quilt.
  • Is the backing wrapped around to the front and stitched down?  A quality quilt will have what is called a double fold binding.  With t-shirt quilts, machine applied binding is the preferred method as it creates a finish that will last a lifetime.
    Some providers do not even do this traditional step.  They sew what is referred to in the quilting world as the 'pillowcase' method.  This is the cheapest way to finish a blanket.  This means that the provider literally does a quick stitch around the edges, turns it inside out and calls it 'good'.
    The binding on a quilt is used to finish the three raw layers of a quilt. There are 3 basic types of bindings, of which the first 2 should be avoided.

* Quilt -  3 layers consisting of a top, batting and backing.
** Project Repat - Cheapest BLANKET producer, but product does not stand up to more than a few launderings.  Does not include batting or stabilizer.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

T-Shirt Quilt Style - Order or Chaos?

There are two major styles of T-Shirt quilts.   What I refer to as  'Order' and 'Chaos'.  OK, that seems like an extreme comparison, but let's look at the difference between order and chaos as pertains to t-shirt quilts.

First of all, I grew up looking at quilts that two of my great-grandmothers and my grandmother made or were working on.  In high school, my favorite classes were  geometry, accounting, physics and silver-smithing   (I went to a great high-school- we also had  archery and canoeing as phys-ed options).   I was a computer programmer in the corporate world.   I like lists. I like to read Science Fiction.  OK, yeah, I am a geek. But, all of these studies involve science and ORDER.

How does that pertain to quilts you ask??

Traditional Style Quilt
T-Shirt quilts fall into these same categories.  A traditional quilt is generally created using uniform sized blocks that are laid out in columns and rows.  Traditional  t-shirt quilts will appeal to most people because their sub-conscious wants this order and the 'eye' wants to see things in an ordered way.
Random or Chaos Style Quilt
A random quilt can be done in many ways.  If you have ever looked at the random styled t-shirt quilts, you will either love 'em or hate 'em.  Couple of reasons for this.    It takes a lot of skill and creativity to lay out a random style t-shirt quilt in a pleasing manner.  Most people don't have that skill. There are a few t-shirt quilt providers out there that have formulas for creating these quilts, but, the problem is that the color  and value of the t-shirts is not taken into account.  Sometimes, the formula works, but more often than not, the resulting quilt just looks like chaos.

At T-Shirt Quilts of Texas we are known for our high quality 'TRADITIONAL" quilts and proud of it!  We have years and years experience looking at the shirts that you provide, and coming up with a pleasing and satisfying layout of the shirts.

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.