Campus Quilt Gem

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For years I’ve seen ads like this in the back of magazines. You send in a pile of t-shirts and they come back to you as a quilt. A few of my clients have mentioned the idea to me as well but I don’t know anyone who followed through.

Though I love to sew, I’ve never learned to quilt. I lack the patience, but love the idea and the finished results. The idea of making sentimental clothing into a functioning quilt however, intrigued me. In the ‘old days’ most discarded clothing saw a new life as a quilt. Nothing went to waste.

So after helping my sister clean out some drawers, we decided to turn her small pile of keepsake t-shirts into a sentimental quilt.

sharon explains the quilt

Sharon worked on this ad campaign at The Mercury News

Campus Quilts has the ordering process down to a science. I made a deposit online, then ordered a package with directions. They send you a large waterproof envelope for mailing your shirts, along with assorted fabric swatches and a detailed order form. You let them know what order to place your shirts, what kind of backing you want and if you want strips of fabric between each shirt. We opted for the strips and it turned out nicely.

t shirt side of quilt

Four shirts, including one with a button placket

The dark fabric frames each panel.  There are two styles of machine quilting and even an option to add photo panels or an embroidered name.

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Closeup of purple flannel backing and machine stitches

Our design is a simple one, but turned out even better than we imagined. Sharon chose her favorite color for the back of the quilt and black for the framing.

We’re tickled pink.

Sharon with quilt

The quilt is big and cozy

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The boys were nice enough to hold up the quilt for the photo, but asked to remain incognito

The Shirts:

Top row, San Jose Mercury News and a pair of wildlife t-shirts
2nd row, A gift from Mike, work shirts from Zazzle and Pindar (no she never went to prison)
3rd row, More shirts from Pindar
4th row, Shirts from the Spartan Daily, San Jose State University

20 thoughts on “Campus Quilt Gem

  1. What a totally brilliant idea! So often these are the things that are hard to throw away – and this solves the problem entirely! Your boys are incognito stars!! Sharon looks very happy with the end product 🙂

    My eldest has a ton of memorabilia t shirts – she buys one at every rock concert she goes to. What a quilt they would make 🙂

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  2. I absolutely love my quilt! My drawers had hidden these sentimental keepsakes for years. Old and faded they hadn’t seen the light of day in years. I think I stopped wearing T-shirts some time in the 90’s. Thank you Alys for your most thoughtful and generous gift.

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  3. I’m totally impressed at how fresh and new the T-shirts look. I rarely get one at a concert because the lineups are too long. I had a Keith Urban one at one time but wore it out. Speaking of Keith, Nicole Kidman was at the American Idol finale tonight, I think they’re a cute couple. The colours are great together aren’t they? Would you believe I only own 2 cowl neck t-shirts? One, Jim brought me from New York and one, very faded, well loved Pink T is signed by Chris Issak. I met him (very briefly). He does a very fun show. You’re looking so great Sharon! You love for each other always shines thru ❤ xoxo

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  4. Hi Alys. That looks amazing. That would be an awesome thing to do when travelling – buy a shirt from each location and then have a fab souvenir to remember warm tropical places on cold winter nights. I love the idea, thanks for sharing it. Cheers Sarah : o)

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  5. The quilt looks great–it’s such a nice way to deal with shirts that would be unused otherwise. I’ve seen cool ones done with t-shirts given out to to people who run marathons, etc. Now, take it a step further and think how extra-super-special the quilt would be if you made it yourself–and, really, it wouldn’t even take that much patience! 😉

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  6. I love that someone took a need and turned it into a business. T-shirt quilts are not like other quilts. You have to stabilize the stretchy fabric before sewing it to the quilt. My former DIL didn’t know that but made a thoughtful gift for my last husband. He had tons of t-shirts. The sashing between the squares does set them off nicely. I like the flannel back. Flannel is my favorite. Most quilters don’t like to work with it.
    I noticed that Sharon’s jacket looks almost quilted as well. I love it.

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    • Good point, Marlene. Find a need and fill it and you’re in business. I’ve worked enough with knits over the years to know that I did not want to tackle this project. They did an amazing job stabilizing the knits as you point out. We’re just delighted with it.

      I like flannel too. It reminds me of my childhood pajamas. It’s warm and inviting and soft as well. Do quilters avoid it because it is slippery or do they just not like the way it looks?

      Great observation on Sharon’s jacket by the way. She joked about wearing purple, but we hadn’t noticed the patchwork quality of her blouse. Amazing!

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      • Most quilters don’t like flannel because it gives more than regular cotton almost like a knit. You have to be careful not to stretch it. And it makes a real mess in the bobbin area requiring constant cleaning during the sewing process. Me, I almost prefer flannels. Made most of my patchwork shirts out of flannel.
        Sharon’s shirt caught my eye first thing.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ah…now that makes sense. Anything with a pile will slip and I guess the slightly looser weave allows it to stretch. It does make lint, too, but good for you for going for what you want anyway. In the end it’s worth it.

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  7. Oh I love this!! Looking for a graduation gift for my daughter and something like this would be perfect to send with her to college 🙂 how long did it take for the turnaround, Alys? Thanks so much for sharing all the photos. I agree, it turned out brilliantly!

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    • Go for it! If you know how to sew and quilt with knits already, then I’m sure you could pull this off in time. If not, you can show him your work in progress. It will be a terrific gift! Please let me know if you make it. I would love to see your work.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

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