I’m excited to share the finished results of a side project I’ve been working on for quite a while – a quilt made of my husband’s dress shirts! This post is not sponsored by Brooks Brothers. :p
A few years ago I started saving my husband’s dress shirts whenever he wore out the elbows, and they added up rather quickly. I hated to toss the shirt due to a small tear. My crafty brain took over and I knew I would use the fabric for something eventually. After my dress shirt inventory grew to a dozen shirts (I added one of my own), I decided that I wanted to make a quilt. And how fun would it be for the pieces to be identifiable as dress shirts?
I gave all the shirts a final wash and began to cut them into pieces of usable fabric. First I cut along all the seams. I saved the two front panels, two sleeves, and the back panel. I threw away the collars because they were too stiff to be used for anything. And although I did save all of the cuffs, I never ended up using them. Next I ironed everything. At first I used iron-on interfacing on the first small batch because I was concerned about the the fabric being so fine, but found that it wasn’t necessary to continue. (Perhaps if I was quilting in smaller pieces I would have found the added heft helpful.)
Because I wanted the fabric to be identifiable as dress shirts, I decided to keep the rows of buttons intact instead of breaking them up into smaller pieces. To achieve this I began to cut long rectangular pieces and randomly piece them together. All the pieces are the same width and different lengths. Although I’ve put together two t-shirt quilts before, this was my first attempt at making a quilt, so I figured the less precise I needed to be, the better.
To keep the width of the rows consistent, I used my handy-dandy clear ruler as a guide. I cut all my fabric into long strips (varying between 12″-24″ long, which I would cut down later as desired).
Next, I arranged the pieces on the floor randomly alternating patterns and colors, as well as pieces with visual interest like buttons, buttonholes, pockets, or pleats. Since I wanted to make an over-sized lap quilt and wasn’t aiming for a specific size, I added rows and length until I was satisfied (accounting in my mind the size with a .25″ seam on each piece).
Working from the top down, I moved each row into a pile so I would sew the pieces in the order I intended. Then I began sewing the rows of fabric. As I came across pieces with a pocket or sleeve, I would sew them shut. Then I sewed all the rows of fabric together – and there was my topside.
While I planned on doing just a simple solid backing, I had enough fabric left over to do several more rows. So I bought a blue gingham fabric that matched the colors and style of the shirt fabrics in the quilt to go in between and I ended with a long white row on each end.
I mentioned earlier that I kept all the cuffs. I really wanted to incorporate them somehow – but I couldn’t figure out how without it looking sloppy or forced. I ended up ditching all of the cuffs, with the exception of one. My husband had a shirts with monogrammed cuffs for our wedding, so I kept the cuff with his monogram on it and stitched it on to a corner of the backing.
Next I ironed the top and the back, and put quilt batting in-between. I bought over-sized safety pins to pin everything into place.
For the topstitching, I met a Mennonite woman who lives near my parents in New York. She hand-quilted it for me and she did a beautiful job!! It really brought the quilt to life.
After the topstitching was completed, I put on the binding. Throughout the course of this project, my husband ended up “retiring” the suit he wore at our wedding. It was navy with a very small white pinstripe, and to keep going with the theme of this quilt I thought it would be fun to use the fabric from the suit pants for the binding. I cut the pants into long strips 2″ wide and sewed all the strips together. I used that to make the binding.
Although I have made two t-shirt quilts before, this was my first “real” quilt project and it was a lot of fun. I am already planning my next one! I haven’t decided where it will live yet, but I’ve had a good time moving it from place to place to stare at it! (Insert heart-eyes emoji.)
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