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Making a T-shirt Memory Quilt, part II

20150505 - basic layout In part one of this T-shirt Memory Quilt series, we cut our blocks and attached backing to the fabric. In part two, we will plan the layout and fill odd spaces.

You will need a large flat surface to lay out your blocks. The top of a bed will work but can be hard on your back so please remember to stop and stretch often. There are expensive things available at stores called ‘design walls’ for laying out your fabrics, etc. However, I use flannel backed plastic table cloths found at Thrifty Shopper, which is more economical and a great way to repurpose.

The flannel side works wonderfully to lay out designs. You can use a few thumbtacks to secure it to a wall, or use skirt hangers to clip to the tablecloth and then hang over closet doors or wherever you can. Because I use mine frequently, my husband secured hanging clips near the ceiling for mine to hang from in the back hall. When I want to take them down, I simply remove the hangers and fold it up out of sight. I use two tablecloths because I often make large quilts.

20150505 - measure cut and sew your sashingsSpread your blocks around on the chosen flat surface and arrange until you find an aesthetically pleasing layout. When you are happy with your layout, begin looking at the spaces between images. Because T-shirt designs often come in many different sizes, you might find there are odd shaped gaps. Don’t worry; we will use trimmings to fill the gaps.

Optional: An alternative design is adding pockets to your quilt. These pockets can be used for all kinds of things: a loving note, a clue to finding a special treat, a CD or movie depending on the size of the pocket. Let your imagination be your guide. Just be sure not to sew the pocket closed when stitching around it.

Now that you have pieces cut to fill in all the areas, begin sashing. There are two kinds of trimming (strips of fabric) used in quilts. The trimming between blocks is called sashing (pictured). Trimming around the outside of the quilt center (where sashing and blocks are sewn together) is called border. Neither is required in quilt making, but can add a whole new dimension to the appearance of your finished quilt.

When the blocks are very different, I often choose the same sashing as it will bring unity to the quilt. When the blocks are similar, I might sash each with a different fabric to add some contrast and interest. With the featured quilt, I am using the same sashing for unity.

20150505 - cutting setupI’ve included an easy quilters set up (pictured) for cutting strips, which can be an expensive investment. However, fabric stores often offer 50% off coupons and competitors often offer to match coupons/offers. Once you have these items they will last you for many years given proper care. Of course, they are not necessary; for generations our ancestors made lovely quilts without a single fancy tool. Due to my own health issues, I could not make a quilt without them, so they were a necessary investment for me.

In part three of this series, we will cut and add the sashing and border. Get out the fabric you have chosen for your sashing and press it nice and smooth.

This blog was written by Linda Wedge White, a regular blog contributor to our Thrifty Shopper website! If you would like to offer fashion advice and tips, share unique finds and what you used them for and/or stories you would simply like to share with other like-minded people, we want to hear from you! Contact us at!

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