Perhaps the favorites, all worn and well loved, are hidden away in an overstuffed dresser drawer. Perhaps your collection of vacation t-shirts are overflowing in the closet.
Maybe you have saved your student’s shirts from high school events or you have a vast collection of concert t-shirts, work related events, team sports….the list goes on! So many shirts not enough time to wear them all!
How can you keep them forever?
3 Simple Steps to Keeping Your Shirts Forever
At The Quilt Rambler studio we specialize in the quality manufacture of what is known as T-shirt quilts. You provide the clothing, we provide the quilt!
Step One – Sort Through Your Shirts for Your T-Shirt Quilt
Your t-shirt collection tells your story…
Do you want to showcase a specific collection of shirts such as high school, vacation shirts, or your prized Harely Davidson T-shirts? Or do you want the theme to be “This is My Life” and include all your favorites?
Step one is to simply sort through and pick out your favorite shirts.
Step Two – Wash Your Shirts
We understand stains and worn spots, that’s just part of the story of your quilt. But do give them a quick freshing up by washing them. Please do not use a dryer sheet or fabric softener.
Step two is to wash the shirts without fabric softener or dryer sheets.
Step Three – Box Them Up and Send to The Quilt Rambler
What could be simpler? Contact us for the shipping address and instructions.
Step three is ship your collection to The Quilt Rambler
It Really Is That Simple! 3 Easy Steps To Keep Your Favorite T-Shirts Forever as a T-Shirt Quilt
In a few short weeks we will turn your t-shirts into an heirloom that can be used and loved for a lifetime.
Galentine’s Day or Valentine’s Day? Projects for both were made at this weekend’s Sew In with the Island Quilters Guild of Galveston.
What is Galentine’s Day you say?
According to google search Galentine’s Day was “invented” by a fictional character on a program called Parks & Recreation to be celebrated each February 13th – it’s all about enjoying time with your lady friends, saving the romance for February 14th with your sweetheart.
February’s challenge for the Island Batik Ambassadors is to make Kennel Quilts but our bonus challenge is to make something for Galentine’s Day.
Knowing that I had an Island Quilters Guild Sew In over the weekend I began pulling fabric from my stash to go along with the Valentine fabric included in my ambassador box. My goal was to include my quilting friends in this project – after all, isn’t that the “true meaning” of Galentine’s Day! Girl time! Only thing better than girl time is girlfriend quilting time!!
Island Time – Island Quilters Guild Style
My Galveston Island girlfriends are the best, not only are they creative accomplished quilters, they are gracious and willing to set aside their own projects for a few hours to “play” in my Island Batik. fabrics.
Without further ramble, I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves…sorta….
Sew Many Ideas!
I couldn’t come up with an idea for a mug rug – actually, I had too many ideas! I’d been saving ideas to my Pinterest board but couldn’t seem to narrow it down. When quilting gives you too many decisions just make a purse!
No pattern, just making do. I had a candy wrapper saved from last year – the 150 year anniversary of Sweethearts, which IS my favorite Valentine candy. To protect the candy wrapper I placed a piece of vinyl over it before sewing the sashing strips from my batik stash. On the back, I made patchwork from the fat quarters provided in my Island Batik Ambassador box.
Once again I’ve asked my friend Irma to share her story concerning one of the quilts that I’ve made for her through the years. This is about her brother Jesse who would have been 55 today, February 11. Among other things, Jesse served his country and for that I would like to say a personal thank you!
So pour that second cup of coffee, settle in with your favorite quilt, sit back & enjoy this heart felt story of a sister’s eternal love.
The Making of Jesse’s Memory Quilt
This is my story about the various quilts that my friend, Karen E. Overton, has made for me – this one is specifically about the quilt she made for me for my brother Jesse using some of his favorite old t-shirts.
First, some background information…
My name is Irma Cortez, and Jesse Cortez is one of my younger brothers. Sadly, Jesse passed away unexpectedly in June 2011. He was only 49 years old.
As printed in his obituary, Jesse lived his life his way and only his way. He had many passions in his short life, some of which were: family and friends; working hard; playing just as hard; always having a good time; the Dallas Cowboys; riding motorcycles; collecting classic muscle cars; hunting; camping; drag racing; and joking & kidding around and making others laugh every chance he got.
Jesse’s Career Path included the U.S. Marine Corp
Jesse quit high school and never actually graduated, but instead enlisted into the Marines at the age of 17. My parents had to sign papers for him to enlist, but they proudly did, and he eventually received his GED while he was in the service.
While serving his country from 1980 to 1983 as a Proud Marine, Jesse could travel the world to places like Japan and Okinawa. After four years, he was Honorably Discharged with the rank of Lance Corporal.
Jesse Finds His Second Career with The Light Company
Once he arrived back home, Jesse got a job as an Apprentice at HL&P (Houston Lighting & Power). He eventually completed his apprenticeship, and continued to work for HL&P for a total of 28 years. To better explain what Jesse did at The Light Company, he was one of those men that you would see up in a big bucket truck working on power lines. He loved climbing those power poles and working outside.
During his years at The Light Company, HL&P decided they would stop using paid models or actors for their company promotions and commercials.
In 1997, HL&P sent out notifications to all employees that they would be using company employees for the upcoming new print ads and commercials and that any employees who were interested could submit their names to be considered for the new marketing campaign. Of course, my brother submitted his name, and the rest is history as they say.
During those years, HL&P went through several management changes and a few name changes – at one time it became CenterPoint Energy, and then it eventually became Reliant Energy.
My brother was very well liked at work by his managers and supervisors, and he was known to be a very hard worker, always very supportive of his company. He represented HL&P in many BBQ cook-offs at the Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo with his team oftentimes winning top prizes.
Jesse was a stubborn free spirit that cared for others with his whole heart and soul – he was always there when you needed him. To me, my brother’s greatest asset was his great zest for life and his kind and gentle soul. Although physically, Jesse was a large, stout man, he was really just a teddy bear at heart, and he loved children. Because of his love for children he participated in various fun-runs or toy-runs for local charities, like the Shriners. Since Jesse was never married, nor had children of his own, he always volunteered to work the various holidays so that his married co-workers could have time with their kids and families for the holidays.
Jesse’s Extra Career – Advertising!
The first photo in this story shows my brother in one of the original full-page ads that appeared in the Houston Chronicle for the new HL&P marketing ads using real employees of the company. This print ad first appeared in the paper on 11/12/1997, and it was later reprinted several more times throughout the following years. It was interesting to note that even after the company changed names, the HL&P logo on his hardhat in the original picture was also changed.
Of course, Jesse had told everyone that would listen, including our parents that he had volunteered, and that he had been chosen for some of the ads or commercials, but he wasn’t sure when any of them would come out. He also told us that he had signed a release, and that HL&P would be able to use his name and his pictures for all time.
On November 27, my parents started getting phone calls from friends and family from all over. They had all seen the signs and the newspaper, and had recognized Jesse and everyone was calling our parents to talk about it. My parents were always very proud all their children, but during this time, they were extra proud of Jesse and they sure enjoyed the extra attention they were getting because of Jesse being in the paper. (Note: there will be more about this photo later in this story.)
After Jesse’s Unexpected Death Decisions Had to Be Made
After his death, I helped my siblings to clean out his house and the shop next door to it. Since Jesse had gained a lot of weight in the few years before he died, he had lots of clothes of the Big & Tall variety; however, all his clothes were so large that none of my other brothers wanted any of them. During the cleanup, I asked the family if anyone wanted any of his clothing, otherwise I was going to donate it all to the Goodwill. All my brothers told me they didn’t want any of it, so I proceeded to separate all the jeans from the shirts, and jackets, etc. While I was doing this, I noticed that Jesse still had several of the shirts that I personally had gifted to him during his life (albeit it some of them were torn and tattered), so I decided that I’d keep all those shirts and any of the ones that I knew were some of his favorite shirts, or that he had worn most often.
This is how and when I decided to make a memory quilt with his old t-shirts, and this is how Karen Overton comes into this story.
Time to Visit The Quilter Again
Since Karen had already previously made me two other quilts – a queen-sized quilt using my son’s high school spirit shirts that seldom got used because it doesn’t get cold enough, and a “lap throw” using my Mom’s old clothes that gets used very frequently, I decided that I wanted another lap throw using Jesse’s most favorite t-shirts.
Once I knew the size of the quilt that I wanted, I decided that I wanted to include those shirts that conveyed what I considered to be the four great passions of my brother – those being: the U.S. Marines; his job; Chevy Camaros; and The Dallas Cowboys of course!
The quilt I decided to have made was another 3X4 quilt (also called a 12-square quilt), meaning it was 3-squares wide and 4-squares long. Approximately 53″ x 70″.
During the planning time of making this quilt, I knew that Karen would need to know what color scheme I would want, and it was too soon to tell yet, but I knew that she would be working on the t-shirts first, cutting them into squares, etc., and that I still had time to choose the colors for the sashing, the cornerstones, and the backing.
Once I had chosen the theme of the quilt, which was to use only those shirts that I felt would emphasize his passions in life, I could already envision the final product in my mind’s eye.
Below is a photo of the completed memory quilt that Karen made using my brother’s old t-shirts. The finished product speaks for itself.
Each Quilt Block Tells Jesse’s Story
Each t-shirt square used in this quilt tells a story about my brother by itself, but pieced together with all the other squares, I think it paints the perfect picture of who my brother was. I’m very happy and pleased with the way it came out and I have this quilt on display on a quilt rack in my living room.
Although I had several t-shirts to pick from, and because I wanted to use only those that most represented the things that I felt were most important to my brother, I felt the theme of the quilt coming to life. In the end, we used one t-shirt for the square with a reference to Chevy muscle cars; and we used other t-shirts for the various squares with a reference to the U.S. Marines, Harley Davidson, and the Dallas Cowboys, which would create four of the needed twelve squares.
Since Jesse had worked for HL&P for so long and because the company had changed names several times, and because he had acquired work shirts from each of the new companies, we were able to use a combination of smaller pieces of his various shirts for three more squares each representing the original HL&P, Reliant Energy and CenterPoint Energy to fully represent the entire 28 years he had with the company. This was important to me as I knew how proud he was for having had only one job his entire adult life.
Picking The Right Shirts Can Sometimes Be Challenging
As it turned out, this was not a simple project by any means. In fact, it turned out to be very complicated and tedious for both me and Karen. During the planning and preparation phases of this quilt, we encountered several obstacles that I feel the need to explain to fully appreciate Karen’s workmanship and the sentimental value I had already invested in this memory quilt.
One issue was that not all of his work shirts had large enough logos or artwork on them to be able to make one full square (this is important because all the squares must be the same size to make the finished product); however, because Karen is so experienced and knowledgeable in making custom quilts, and because she knows how to improvise so well, she was able to “piece together” the smaller logos from both the pockets and/or the sleeves of his various work shirts to “create” additional squares of the proper size.
Another issue was that I knew that we were going to need a total of twelve squares to finish the quilt, and at one point, we discovered that we only had eight full squares, which meant we were going to be short four squares to finish the quilt that I wanted. Luckily, as previously stated above, Karen could partially solve this issue by piecing together those smaller pieces from the same shirts to create two additional squares for a total of ten squares, which still left me short two more squares to finish the quilt.
By this point in time, I was at my wit’s end. I was frustrated with myself, and disappointed that may have to revise my theme and use other shirts that would not convey what I had imagined in my mind. Thankfully, Karen was not worried at all. She gave me time to mull it over, she told me to look around for more shirts – she told me that not all the shirts had to had specifically belonged to my brother, and not to stress too much about it – she was confident that it would all turn out.
This part is a little bit off-topic, but it serves as additional background. There is a local biker bar called, “Ronnie’s Hog Heaven” in town that is owned by some long-time friends of ours, and it was not unusual for Jesse to stop by there several nights a week to have a few drinks and visit with friends after work. As luck would have it, I had previously purchased a bright orange t-shirt from Ronnie’s bar that I thought could be used as one of the missing squares that I still needed for the quilt.
Persistance Pays Off
As one last ditch effort to find a t-shirt I could use for the last remaining square, I started going to local resale shops and several of the Goodwill stores around town looking for men’s t-shirts that might work.
It just so happened that on one of these trips, I came across a shirt that quite literally jumped out at me and I knew it was the exact shirt that I was looking for. My heart started pounding, and I was actually giddy as I was walking to the register to buy it, and I was grinning from ear to ear.
Finding this last shirt at a random Goodwill store is how and when I decided to use the Harley Davidson color scheme for my brother’s memory quilt.
Below is a picture of the artwork from that shirt that we needed and used for the last, center square to finish my brother’s quilt.
The Tasmanian Devil Utility Worker T-Shirt Reflects Jesse’s Life
To better understand and appreciate the significance of why I chose this shirt with this picture on it is to know the following things about my brother Jesse: 1) Jesse had a tattoo of the Tasmanian Devil on his back right shoulder and he wore a small gold Tasmanian Devil on a gold chain around his neck; 2) Jesse was a long time employee of HL&P and was therefore a “utility worker” for many years; 3) the photo that HL&P used of my brother in the newspaper in 1997 shows him wearing his hardhat and also with a roll of power lines resting on his shoulder; and 4) my brother used to carry his tools and wore a utility belt around his waist when he was working. Now, look at the Tasmanian Devil picture on the quilt again and then look at the first picture at the beginning of this story and tell me that you don’t recognize the uncanny resemblance!?
It was simply amazing to me that the Tasmanian Devil on this random shirt was posed and dressed as a utility worker, and it instantly reminded me of my brother, so that is why that very last square on this quilt means so much to me.
When I found that shirt, I immediately called Karen to inform her that I had the last two shirts that we needed for the quilt, and she let me come over to drop them off, and that was all she wrote… or in this case, that was all that Karen need to start stitching.
T-shirts and Clothing Are a Reminder of Those We Love
As with the other two quilts that Karen made for me, I was very pleased and thrilled with the finished product. The Harley Davidson color scheme came together after adding my orange t-shirt from Ronnie’s bar, and it was an easy choice to go with orange and black for the rest of the quilt.
Since my brother was also an avid supporter of the local football team, I used one of his Dickinson Football shirts as the last corner square on the quilt, and the photo below shows the monogram that I had put on it.
My brother was cremated, and in my house, I have a small urn engraved with his name containing a small amount of his ashes in a cubby hole that I keep as a small memorial for him. Inside that cubby hole is also a U.S. Flag and a copy of the photo that I took and used in his obituary. Coincidentally, the black Marines t-shirt that he is wearing in that picture is also on my quilt. I miss and think of my brother every day. This memory quilt is the final piece of the puzzle that I was missing, and it is proudly on display on a quilt rack in my living room for all to see and admire when they visit.
The photo below is an updated copy of the original picture published in the paper. Notice that the original “HL&P” logo on his hardhat was been changed to “CenterPoint Energy” in this copy. I found this copy one day at work on the back of an old Directory for the Hispanic Legal Association for 2013. When the new directory for 2014 arrived in the mail, and I was going to discard the 2013 directory until I noticed his face on the back of it. Wow!
This concludes my story of all the quilts that Karen Overton made for me. I have a sneaky suspicion that I will find a few other projects for us to work on in the not too distant future.
That’s all, folks! Irma Cortez
Once again, thank you Irma for sharing your stories with us, and for being such a faithful customer!
If you missed her other guest blog appearances click here to read of her mother’s memory quilt and click here to read of her son’s t-shirt quilt.
This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler Telling YOUR story one quilt at a time.
As always, we appreciate your comments and feedback.
If you haven’t figured out yet, I’m a brand new ambassador for Island Batik Fabrics and I am still pinching myself for the privilege and opportunity to promote and represent this fine line of fabrics.
Have to admit I was getting over excited as I saw my fellow ambassadors posting photos of the opening of their boxes…..and I was still waiting on mine…oh the joys of shipping zones…
Here’s a sampling of the tantalizing photos popping up all over the internet this week.
Now can you see why I was drooling! I know you are going to want to see all the Ambassadors’ big reveals – just use the hashtag Island Batik Ambassadors on your social media and check often with Island Batik’s Blog to keep up with us.
Patience is a virtue
Needless to say, once Mr. FedEx rang my door bell I couldn’t wait to shout to the roof tops “De Box! De Box!”
Ah, but “the rest of the story” is that Mr. FedEX (who was a tad taken aback when asked to pose for a photo) had arrived precisely as I was walking out the door to head to church….. THE BOX had to wait….
If you want a good laugh visit my Facebook page to see a replay of my Facebook Live recording my dilemma concerning “opening THE box”…..okay, so I apologize in advance – I’m brand new to FB live…
What’s in My Box You Ask?
The wait is over! I hope you enjoy my big reveal – I can’t tell you how pleased I am with the fabric choices made for me! I look so forward to “being creative” each month as the Island Batik Ambassadors work hard to bring you inspiration within various themes and challenges on ideas for incorporating these beautiful fabrics into YOUR quilts!
As special thank you to Katie and Elizabeth, Marketing & Designer Relations at Island Batik, to Island Batik for their generosity, and to Superior Threads and Aurifil for the coordinating thread samples! It’s going to be a great 2017!
This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler (and new Island Batik Ambassador) Telling YOUR story one quilt at a time.
As always I love to hear from my readers, please leave a comment and if you haven’t already done so, subscribe to my blog for lots of future quilting fun!
The February challenge for the Island Batik Ambassadors is to make one or more Kennel Quilts – which are used in animal shelters across the country. This project is coordinated by the volunteer organization TQPM Small Kennel Quilt Team sponsored by The Quilt Pattern Magazine (TQPM). Island Batik is also among the industry partners.
When disasters strike, team members get busy sewing small kennel quilts for animals in need -some may be separated from their humans and others possibly injured. There is always the need for more team members or random donations!
How to Make a Kennel Quilt
The guidelines suggest a 12″ x 18″ quilt that will fit in a kennel. In addition the quilt should not have a binding as little claws could rip off the fabric. There are other stipulations, such as prewashing the fabric, so be sure to read carefully.
I rummaged through my collection of Island Batik precuts and found a set of 5″ squares to work with as well as some scrap batting and away I went to the sewing machine! Note: I do not pre-wash my precuts, but I will wash the completed quilt before donating.
I love simple mindless sewing…the relaxing hum of the needle, the feel of fabulous fabrics under my fingers. An audible (book on tape) playing in the background or perhaps my favorite Christian radio station….just in the zone…sew sew sew!
In no time I had whipped up a little 3 x 4 arrangement from my 5″ squares.
After careful pressing I layered the pieced quilt top right sides together with the backing fabric placing the batting under the wrong side of the backing to sew all three layers together at one time, leaving a 5″ area unsewn for turning.
After sewing I trimmed the edges with pinking sheers – just because they were handy. You could easily use your rotary cutter or regular scissors. The idea is to have a narrow seam allowance for reduced bulk.
Time to turn the little quilt, press around the seams to lay flat and press the opening to the inside even along the edges.
I then topstitched along the perimeter carefully closing the opening. Followed by simple “stitch in the ditch” quilting to hold the quilt sandwich together.
Betcha’ can’t make just one!
I think making these little quilts is a lot like eating potato chips. You can’t just make one! I decided to get a little more creative with the next one and instead of just 12 plain squares I wanted to add pinwheels.
The method I used is fairly quick and easy. Simply layer two 5″ squares right sides together and sew a quarter of an inch around all four edges. When complete take a rotary cutter and ruler to cut from corner to corner to produce 4 triangle shapes. Press these open, trim the dog ears, and then piece together as a four patch to form the pinwheel. It’s important to note that once the blocks were pieced I did trim them down to 5″ square to match the precuts.
I chose to lay the pinwheels every other one with the squares in a checkerboard fashion. Repeated my process and in no time I had two little quilts!
My Kennel Quilt Challenge
My local guild makes quilts to share with various local charitable organizations but I have to admit, I had never thought about making something for our little four legged friends who are in need of comfort.
I’m going to challenge myself to make more of these small kennel quilts as the month goes by – I would like to at least fill up a box! There is information on the website concerning where to donate the kennel quilts as there is always a call to action when disaster strikes. I may even check with my local shelter to see if they have a need.
How about you? Want to take up the challenge with me and make a few kennel quilts? It’s a great way to use up your scraps or practice a new block pattern.
I hope you have enjoyed this month’s Island Batik Ambassador challenge. Check the Island Batik blog for links to other ambassadors and their projects.
This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, Telling YOUR Story One Quilt At A Time….
Please leave a comment below as I’d love to hear from you. Are you going to take up the challenge with me this month? Inquiring minds want to know!
I’ve been doing a happy dance in The Quilt Rambler studio ever since I received this email a couple of weeks ago…
Thank you for applying to become a 2017 Island Batik Ambassador!
Congratulations! We would love to have you join the team.
I couldn’t be more thrilled or honored to be included in this prestigious group of quilters who share the same love of fabulous Island Batik fabrics!
So What Exactly Does This Mean?
For YOU my dear readers it means lots of blog posts and tutorials using gorgeous fabrics and sharing the FUN – not only on my blog but with links to the other Ambassadors and all their projects!
For me, it means eager anticipation of my first shipment of fabrics to be used in the monthly events planed by the Island Batik Marketing Team.
ohhhhh….I can’t wait to share with you all the fun things they have planned!! And I can’t wait to get creative interpreting the themes into fun projects!
Introducing My Favorite Fabric Line
Island Batik!!!! I can’t imagine that you aren’t already familiar with them, but just in case let me give you a little company background.
Island Batik, located in Carlsbad, California, has been a leader in the batik industry for over 14 years. The fabrics they produce are handmade in Bali, Indonesia by skilled artisans using a wax resist method which gives the fabric outstanding depth and range of color.
They are a wholesale only operation whose customers are mainly independent quilt shops in the United States, but through distributors, their fabric is finding its way to quilters all over the world! They launch new seasonal lines twice a year corresponding to International Quilt Markets that occur in May and October.
As a side ramble….The Fall International Quilt Market is held in my home area of Houston just prior to the Houston International Quilt Festival. I have been faithfully been attending Festival since 2000 (when we moved back to Texas) and Market since 2004 (when I started my quilting business). While attending the 2013 Fall Market I actually was blessed to meet Island Batik’s CEO, Caleb Willis. Each fall I look forward to visiting with him and his capable staff. Talk about a company that believes in customer service….well, I can’t say enough about the good people at Island Batik!
Interestingly enough even though the fabrics are launched and ordered by independent quilt shops in May and October at the International Quilt Markets, they are not delivered to stores until August/July and January/February respectively due to the fabrics being “made to order” by those skilled artisans who have perfected their craft. Perfection can’t be rushed you know!
Note: That’s why when you see a fabric in your local quilt shop you need to purchase it right then and there because it could be gone in a few short weeks. My philosophy is to always purchase a little more than I think I will need because when it’s gone it’s gone. And yes, your husband called and said you could add as much as you want to your stash!!
There’s more I could tell you about the company but I will save that for a future ramble…
What’s Going to Be In My First Ambassador Box??
Well…I’m eagerly awaiting for it to arrive! Any day now!!!! One thing I do know is there will be fabric from the Fall/Winter 2016 line – fabrics that are arriving in your local quilt shops this month!!
Okay, this is a true sacrifice as I have just made the executive decision to give away something from my own personal stash….Yep…going to be a little unselfish here…I picked up a really cute little 5″ square precut from the Fall/Winter 2016 line of Dotalicious at the Fall Market this year that I am willing to part with for one of my faithful blog readers!
Here’s an idea – I have NO IDEA which fabric from the Fall/Winter 2016 line I will be receiving in my box – so let’s all give it our best guess. Why not! A winner will be chosen from among the correct answers left in the comments below. But wait there’s more! Well…more as in the way of contest rules…
(2) Share on your social media tagging #thequiltrambler
(2) Subscribe to our blog and comment on this post your best guess of what fabric I will receive from the Fall/Winter 2016 line in my first Ambassador Shipment. One guess per email address, please.
Here is the choices for the answer:
Fifi and Fido
Bubbles n’ Tiles/Heart’s Desire
Merry and Bright
Surf and Sand
Share with friends!
Share the fun ~ and yes, there will be more giveaways! Remember to be eligible to win this giveaway you have to leave a comment below of your best guess for the name of the fabric line that will be in my First Ambassador Shipment. Watch for my future post of unpacking the box to see if you guessed correctly.
Ready set go!!!! Time is of the essence as my box could be here any day!
This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler AND New Island Batik Ambassador, Telling YOUR story one quilt at a time.
Comment Below Your Best Guess to Enter the Giveaway! Subscribe to our blog to keep up with all the Island Batik fun and future giveaways!
Once again, I’ve asked my friend Irma to share with us about her son’s high- school -graduation-send-off-to-college t-shirt quilt. As a special note – today Casey is celebrating his 25th birthday! Happy Birthday Casey from your friends at The Quilt Rambler!
This is my story about the various quilts that my friend, Karen Overton, has made for me – this one is specifically about the quilt she made for me for my son using his old high school spirit shirts.
First, some background information…
My name is Irma Cortez, and I have only one child – a son named Casey. As an only child, I admit that I lovingly doted on him and gave him anything and everything he needed or wanted, and I also kept everything he ever made or wrote, or that was of any significant or sentimental value.
In high school, my son was actively involved in various sports like football and tennis, along with various organizations and clubs. He also has a strong Christian faith and he attended many youth activities including singing in the Christian Rock Band at his church.
Since he was involved in so many different school sports, clubs and activities, he was always getting free spirit shirts or we purchased shirts from the various clubs or events that he attended, which eventually lead to quite a large collection of spirit shirts.
At first, spirit shirts were only allowed at school on Fridays for pep rallies and football games; however, it was soon announced that it would be acceptable for students to wear spirit shirts any day of the week.
My son was scheduled to graduate from DHS in June of 2010, and he was accepted to and would be attending Baylor University in the Fall that same year. Since we knew that he’d be going away to college after graduation, I started cleaning out his room at home, going through all his old clothes, and discovered that he was no longer wearing a lot of the older shirts from his previous years in high school.
This is how and when I decided to have a t-shirt quilt made from my son’s old t-shirts, and this is when Karen Overton came into the story.
Once I gathered and collected all the spirit shirts that my son no longer wore, or didn’t plan on taking to college with him, I contacted Karen and we scheduled an appointment to discuss a quilt project.
With all the shirts we had to work with, I elected to have a queen-sized quilt made for my son using all his old shirts. This size quilt that I decided on is called a 5X5 quilt (also called a 25-square quilt), meaning it was 5-squares wide and 5-squares long.
I’m not really sure why I chose green and gold for the sashing and the cornerstones, except that maybe it was because there were various shades of green, but I recall that I choose gold for the backing to bring out the gold colors on the front.
The photo below shows the monogram I had put on Casey’s quilt. I used gold thread to match the gold sashing and cornerstones and the backing.
As I previously stated in my other story about Lulu’s MuuMuu quilt, most of my quilts that my Mom made me were always kept in storage at the top of my closets.
However, I now have this quilt hanging on a quilt rack in his room at home.
I’m so pleased with all the quilts that Karen Overton has made for me. Her workmanship and the quality of her quilts are top-notch. Her knowledge of quilting and the time required to finish a project is very precise. She can estimate when it will be ready and most times, she finishes them sooner. I have received so many compliments from friends and family who have seen the quilts she had made for me, and I’ve referred several people to her.
Thank’s Irma, you are a great mom! And a wonderful friend and customer. The best compliment is a referral – I appreciate you!
Ode To The Unknown Quilter – A Double Wedding Ring Quilt
By definition, an ODE is “a lyric poem expressive of exalted or enthusiastic emotion.”
I’m not a poet, I’m a rambler…but this post does have what I hope to be enthusiastic emotion.
As a longarm quilter for hire, it’s my job and joy to assist quilters in the finishing of their masterpieces. Sometimes the owner of the quilt top isn’t necessarily the one who pieced it, sometimes the top has been inherited or a special purchase from an estate sale or antique market. Sometimes I don’t even know the story, as in the case of this quilt.
Several years ago one of my faithful customers had a neighbor with a quilt top that needed to be quilted. If I was told the story I have certainly slept since then and don’t remember. All I remember is my customer telling her neighbor that she would show it to her longarm quilter and see if anything could be done with it…for you see, the top had “issues.”
I wish I had a better of a command of vocabulary because “issues” seems disrespectful, and I certainly don’t mean any disrespect to the unknown quilter, but this is another one of those “bless her heart” quilts…
This particular quilt was hand pieced, and judging by the feed sacks and other recognizable fabrics, was probably pieced in the 1930’s or 1940’s when the double wedding ring pattern was prevalent.
I always love taking a photo of the actual hand piecing before it is covered up forever and ever amen. For a reason unknown to me, the piecing was done in both a black thread and occasionally a white thread – could it be that the unknown quilter was using what was available as far as thread choices were concerned? Could it be that she was a beginner and the black thread was a way for her to see where she was working, or could it be that she was a seasoned saint whose eyesight was aided by this choice of thread color? I’ve had one friend suggest that the quilter had a “waste not want not” attitude and perhaps re-used thread from worn garments as perhaps even she repurposed those garments incorporating them into her quilt.
The double wedding ring is not a pattern for the faint of heart, however, the symbolism of the design is one that will warm your heart. Double wedding rings were sometimes made in hopes of a future marriage or sometimes given as a wedding gift. Regardless, it’s a difficult pattern to piece with its small ring of colorful scraps and its odd size melon in between, not to mention the large center piece whose proper geometric name escapes me….
Yes, this quilt had some issues – for one, it didn’t want to lay flat when spread out on the floor, and as you can see in the photo above, it didn’t end on an even note. The edges looked more like ruffles potato chips with ridges than a quilt that would grace a bed ensemble.
Ah, but that’s only if you look with your eyes and not your heart!
Not knowing the quilter, the history of the quilt, or anything really except the current owner wanted it finished and was willing to accept puckers in the completed project – I was left up to my imagination as to how to quilt this particular masterpiece.
The design needed to be taken into consideration knowing there would be many pleats and puckers along the way, yet I didn’t want to just meander or stipple over the entire top. An edge to edge pantograph wouldn’t work either, number one simply because it would again be difficult to ease in the fullness and number two (which was really number one in my mind) is it just wasn’t befitting to a double wedding ring. Too much time had been invested in the piecing, it would be disrespectful to rush the finishing by just stitching any ole thing to hold in the batting and call it finished.
Somewhere in time, a lovely lady set her mind upon piecing a double wedding ring quilt. Perhaps in hopes of her own marriage, perhaps just because she liked the pattern. Could it have been her first quilt or even one of her last? After all the careful planning and choosing of the scraps for the rings and the countless hours of piecing did she grow weary and decide not to quilt it? Was she frustrated when she couldn’t make the seams obey and lay flat, or was she piecing during a difficult time and the simple motion of needle and thread working in her fingers brought her peace and the end result wasn’t the focus? Something I’ll never know – but what I do know is this unknown quilter had the tenancy to finish that which she started. Not a ring missing, not an unfinished row, a little uneven and a little full, but a complete top. Bravo!
This was a top that cried out “finish me” and to the best of my ability that was my goal. In an effort to mask some of the fullness I decided to double layer the batting, with an 80/20 cotton/poly on the back to help shape the quilt and a high loft poly on the top to soften the fullness that was inevitable.
What to stitch? What would work the best considering the obstacles and still honor the quilter’s love and attention to the completion of her top? What indeed but hearts!
When that thought hit me, the love just flowed out from one quilter to another. The shared passion and perhaps the shared imperfection. Somehow I could relate to this unknown quilter. My designs aren’t perfect, I don’t make a perfect quarter inch seam in all my quilts, sometimes my blocks are a little wonky, but the love is never less than a perfect love – love for the process, love for the journey, love for the therapy brought about by playing in fabric and thread, and love in hopes that one day this labor of love will warm someone’s heart as it warms them from the outside elements. Can the love be felt? I certainly hope so, I tried to match it stitch for stitch with the love I imagined of the unknown quilter.
So yes, it’s a little uneven, yes it’s a little puckered, and yes it still needs a binding put on to make it complete but once that is done IT IS FINISHED! I hope the new owner will savor the character added to the quilt by its age spots, creative piecing, and beautiful scraps.
And yes, I hope it is loved when it finds its way home. I hope it will be said that I completed my task of honoring the quilt maker by finishing her quilt so it can be used as intended.
I love scrap quilts. Maybe it’s the magnitude of colors or the gentle reminder of days gone by when grandma would “make do” with what fabric scraps she had left from the family sewing projects. Or maybe it’s because I entered into the quilting world being a “fat quarter queen” (translation – buying bunches of fat quarters to build more color more quickly and economically in a new stash). Whatever reason, scrap quilts seem to call my name.
Some time ago I received a shipment of several bolts ordered from Island Batik and to my great surprise and pleasure there was a bundle of fabric strips from the new Glowing Embers collection included in the shipment with a simple note – enjoy. I’m not sure, but my guess would be that these were the “scraps” from the edge cuttings for their yummy precuts. I love precuts…. I have made multitudes of quilts using precuts…I will have to show you some of the sometime….just remind me…
Have I mentioned that I also like traditional pieced patterns? Only I’m not into the 1930’s reproduction prints or those civil war prints. I love seeing them, especially antique quilts, totally enjoy quilting them for customers, but I’m not naturally drawn to those colors when I want to piece something for myself. Instead, I gravitate to bright tropical colors, jewel tones, juvenile prints and most definitely circles and stripes, and batiks!
Actually, I had a pattern in mind. Pattern #3056 Hummingbird. Funny thing about patterns, a block can be known by several names but I love how Barbara Brackman has done the research on the earliest known names based on publications…This is a pattern that I’ve seen floating around the internet lately but it appears that everyone is doing a paper-pieced version. I’m not much into paper piecing either – I have problems with the reversal or mirror image or something, I become totally dyslexic ..nope…give me a good ruler and I can figure out how to make it work!
By the way, true confession. I’m a ruler queen. Trust me, there’s a ruler for everything and you can never have too many rulers! One day we’ll do a ruler drawer reveal…or a ruler challenge – would you like that? A challenge to actually use all those rulers in your drawer! or find out how I use mine?
Since I own every ruler made by Deb Tucker with her Studio 180 Designs I do tend to play around with them a lot. A while back I was trying to figure out a way to make this particular block scrappy using Deb Tucker’s Corner Beam Ruler. I cut a block and put it on the design wall…and that was that. Until this weekend when I decided it was time to play in the fabric strips.
Time to get busy. I opened one section from the fabric bundle and found that there were about 20 strips folded in half approximately 2″ by 20″ or so. I decided to let my scissors rip right up that fold line – GASP!! – Yep, I did that! Why not? Much faster than using the rotary cutter and besides, I was feeling adventuresome and decided this was more like a true collection of fabric scraps, sorta like keeping cuttings to make a string quilt. Once cut into smaller strips, I literally tossed them together like making a salad to mix up the scrumptious colors. How else can you randomly pull from a pile if they aren’t all mixed up?
I pulled out my favorite notions (we will do a notion review soon) and got to piecing!
Since the strips were not precision cut I had to improvise making sure to catch enough fabric to make a quarter inch seam. I would put the offending rough cut on the bottom so I could see it and just used the “good” cut strip as the guide for my quarter inch seam. Sometimes that meant that strip was well under an inch itself – but that’s what makes it interesting! It was okay to be a little wonky. This is where I love using my Stiletto & Pressing Tool by Annie to gently guide my strips – it’s so much easier than pins!
Soon two strips became four, four became six or eight until I had a section a little over 6″ wide.
Next, I went to my ironing station and pressed open the seams to reduce the bulk for when the block is constructed later.
Then I placed two strip sets that were close to the same width together on the cutting table to straighten the edges to make them the same width. Yep, I showed them who was boss! It didn’t matter that some of the strip was short or “crooked” looking – they were now equal width and on to the sewing machine to sew a quarter inch seam on BOTH of the long sides forming a tube.
As I mentioned, there’s a ruler for everything. I wanted to make my strips go across the diagonal instead of horizontal, so I used The Strip Tube Ruler by Cozy Quilt Designs and followed their directions to cut out a 6″ square. My “tube” was a little big but I planned it that way so I would have more variety of fabrics that didn’t look cookie cutter the same…. Trust me, it’s okay to have a little extra cuttings to work around for the look you want.
Once all my tubes were cut into triangles as per ruler directions then opened up to reveal the square it was back to the ironing board to press open that center seam and to give the blocks a good starching with Best Press. I found it rather interesting that my 20 something strips yielded 9 blocks – while those blocks were pretty in and of themselves and would have made a cute nine patch … I was on a mission!
Following the directions on the ruler I cut out the center portion of the hummingbird block from the pieced squares and cut the side triangles from a 6″ strip of Island Batik Sprinkles which I think makes a fabulous background fabric! I use this print in a lot of my scrap quilts…kinda calming and a good way to tie in a lot of different colors. One thing I love about batiks, they play nicely together. And have you ever noticed that for the majority of them, you can’t tell the right side from the wrong side? That helps when you are just grabbing random strips to sew together…just sayin’…
Time to assemble the blocks. Chain piecing is a must – especially if you are a smokin’ needle like I am with limited time to sew on personal projects. I must say that I truly love Deb’s rulers – she designs a little “wiggle room” in that the oversized cuts accommodate our “personal measurements” when it comes to sewing a perfect 1/4″ seam….try as I might I’m never felt like I was perfect…but with overcutting and later trimming to size you’d never know my secret had I not told you (GRIN). Yep, Deb makes me look like a pro!
Nine units trimmed, only eight needed to make the four patch which makes up the Hummingbird block….two beautiful scrappy blocks if I do say so myself…
But what about all the leftover pieced scraps you say? Never fear…not a decent sized scrap was wasted in this scrap quilt creation!
Have you ever “made fabric?” I’ll warn you, it’s kinda addicting! Simply take scraps of similar size and piece them together to make a bigger scrap and just keep going. Kinda like eating potato chips!
Yeah, I know, it’s kinda crazy. Maybe even a little obsessive in trying to use up ALL the scraps – but I thought it would be fun this time! After all, I wanted to make more than two blocks and I wasn’t ready to dig further into my fabric bundle today with all these gorgeous leftovers pleading with me to be included….
To simply things I used my Corner Beam Ruler to make a cardboard template and kept piecing the scraps together until I had one large enough to cut out the template. I did find that I had to use a “normal” cutting ruler over the cardboard to keep from nicking it (or my finger) but I was only hoping for 8 wedges and figured the make-do template would survive at least that long. It did, no fingers were run over with a rotary cutter and only one little nick on the cardboard.
I will admit that pressing seams became a bit of a challenge. Where I could, I pressed the seams open to reduce the bulk. When it came to pressing the background triangles sewn to my center wedge I had to give up “pressing to the dark side” due to the bulk and just pressed to the light background where the fabric wanted to naturally lay. No big deal. Sometimes creativity means breaking a few rules. The quilt police don’t live at my house so no worries!
Trust me, after constructing two blocks you quickly become an expert. In nothing flat I had two more Hummingbird blocks all pressed and sewn together. Don’t you just love the true scrappiness of the “making fabric” blocks? I do!
So after a few short hours I had four blocks pieced – did I mention pieced, not paper pieced – grin – and look – I haven’t even made a dent in the fabric bundle of scraps! There’s still a few fabric crumbs leftover from all that making fabric adventure… Some will get used again to make larger pieces, some probably have too many seams to continue being sewn…but for now I’m holding on to them until I’ve decided.
What I did decide is that I want more than 4 beautiful 10″ blocks from this lovely bundle of Island Batik scraps. I “just happened” to have an “orphan block” leftover from the center block in my Illuminated Journey class that I taught on the 2014 Quilting Cruise whose colors blend perfectly don’t you think? Of course they do! They are made from an Island Batik strip pack. Have I mentioned that I love LeMoyne Stars? And there’s a ruler for that too! But this is for another day…
….I just love the direction this is going….and don’t you just love batiks! They do play so nicely together.
Since this is such a long ramble (and that’s as far as I’ve sewn sew far so I’m out of photos) I believe that I will just make this a continuing saga sprinkled in among other rambles as time goes by. I’ve got a few ideas circulating around in my busy brain and I can’t wait to see where the possibilities will take me! Will you join me again for more Scrap Quilt Creations? I hope so! Thanks for letting me ramble on telling MY story today!
But Wait! There’s MORE!!
I couldn’t stop thinking about these blocks, so early Sunday morning before going to church I had an idea of how to be “more efficient” in my piecing…..
Remember how I confessed that I’m a ruler queen – well there is more than one ruler to use for a given project! This time I decided to make one long strip unit from the second set of strips in the fabric bundle. I continued with the idea of cutting the strips up the fold line and just sewed them until the unit grew to almost 36″ in length! That’s a yard in length by 20″ or so in width! Nice volume of scraps if I do say so myself! Would have been longer had I not split the strips…but that’s an idea for the third set….
Okay, so quickly here’s what I managed to figure out before heading out for the day….why not use my 6″ bias square up ruler or Tucker Trimmer to make the units needed to use the Corner Beam Ruler technique? Why not indeed! And to make matters a tad more efficient I simply placed a mark on my long ruler to cut a 6″ bias strip to then cut the 6″ bias squares….
This is yielding me enough blocks to make FOUR more Hummingbird blocks which I will finish another time. And yes, there will be some crumbs (leftover pieced strips) for which I already have an idea! So stay tuned!! More Scrap Quilt Creations Ramblings are in the works.