BEFORE YOU BUY! T SHIRT QUILT QUESTIONS TO ASK

Hello my friends, I know it’s been a while, but t’is truly the season. Meaning, this is THE season for quilters to be busy. June is second to the holiday season for reason of graduation gifts. But a far second, let me tell you.

I felt the need to take a moment to share a few thoughts, as I have recently found yet another “t shirt quilt maker” that offers a pretty sad result. This “company” brings customers in by way of a very low price. For those of you who want a t shirt (or memory, clothing, baby clothes, sports jersey, etc.) quilt made for you, here are some very important considerations I beg of you to ask prior to handing over your precious and irreplaceable items:

1. DO THEY USE A STABILIZER ON THE SHIRTS? Stabilizer is a light fabric that is ironed onto the backside of any jersey knit item to stop it from stretching. If you have shirts that are in good shape, or relatively new, this may seem like something that could be skipped. Not so, my friends.

When the shirts are sewn together, the stabilization prevents the shirts from stretching at the seam, so you don’t get your quilt back with all sorts of puckers at the seams. When the quilt is quilted, the stabilizer also adds an extra layer of strength and thickness to the top and ensures no puckers end up within the quilting.

2. WHAT KIND OF BATTING WILL BE USED? Batting is the center, and batting price and quality varies more than cotton fabric. If they tell you they use 100% polyester, your quilt will not be as warm, and may disintegrate after time and washing. 80/20 batting is a blend and works great for this application, and cotton will quilt nicely, and lay flat.

3. HOW MUCH QUILTING WILL BE DONE? The point of the quilting is to relieve tension on the seams and threads throughout the quilt. Less quilting = more stress on those seams, which means they will come apart sooner. Batting requires stitching or ties to hold it EVERY 4-6 square inches, (unless bamboo batting is used). So if your quilter says s/he will be quilting it every 12″, your batting will eventually tear and shift. Not good. Don’t pay someone to make your treasures into a quilt that will not last past a few washings.

4. WILL THERE BE ANY MATERIAL THE QUILTER PROVIDES? There are a few reasons to ask this question. One, if they are providing material for you, you will want to know the quality of the fabric (i.e. where did they buy it – a quilt shop or a cheaper craft store), the constitution (is it 100% cotton), and whether it has been prewashed. Secondly, you want to know that they are using good quality if that is what you are paying for. If the charge passed on to you per yard is <$10 you can bet it’s not fabric from a quilt shop, so you may have rougher texture, lower thread count, shredding seams or color bleed in the end.

5. HOW DO THEY FINISH THE QUILT EDGE? In my world, we call this the binding. There are several types, the above example is called double or French fold, applied binding. It is a good, sturdy, even and neat type of binding. Self-applied binding is when the back edge is folded over to the front, and if machine stitched, will provide a sturdy finish but softer edge. Envelope bind is when the edges are folded in and top stitched by machine. This is the toughest way to make a binding edge neat and even, so be sure to ask for photos of their work in advance.

I implore you to ask ask ASK for details from the maker PRIOR to relinquishing your shirts. It makes me very sad that there are great quilt makers out there potentially having their reputation tarnished by the few that are either ignorant or not focused on the quality and care of your special item.

These are truly one of a kind gifts and should be treated as such. I’ve made enough memory quilts to truly appreciate these irreplaceable gems and what they mean to the families that retain them.

In fact, your best bet is to ask to see photos of their previous work. That will give you a good visual as to what you should expect from them. Just FYI, all the pix posted here are from quilts I have made for my customers. 🙂 The three below were for siblings:

I can tell you that you will definitely get what you pay for. Experienced and knowledgeable quilt makers will charge you for the materials and labor, and that adds up to a lot more than a Walmart or Cracker Barrel quilt, so don’t expect to pay those prices. If you ask for a breakdown of costs, most quilters will provide one. Or ask why they charge more than another quilt maker, and they will be able to detail the various benefits you will get from the quality they can offer.

Buyer beware, and best of luck with your endeavor my friends!!

A quilt is a quilt, not a blanket

This is one of those ‘pet peeve’ type articles, but really it bears addressing, since there is a technical difference between these various types of bedding. And being a grammar aficionado and semantics perfectionist, as best as I try (and of course fail, from time to time), I insist on ensuring when the inappropriate word is chosen, that it is corrected and the proper word found and put in it’s place.

Regardless, there is a point to be made: there is an absolute, positive, identifiable difference between a blanket, quilt, summer spread, duvet, comforter and (tied) comfort. Are you ready? Get your pen and paper at the hand…

It’s actually quite simple, but incredibly often (for some reason, ignorance, perhaps?) that these terms get mixed up. Before I began quilting I thought anything with three layers was a quilt. Not true.

QUILT: 3 layers, to include a back, a top, AND a center of batting (in poorer times they even used old blankets or old quilts as the batting as not to waste a thing) that HAVE BEEN STITCHED TOGETHER at relatively close intervals.

feather border from backside

TIED COMFORT: 3 layers, same as above, but TIED together at intervals, rather than quilted.

tied comfort

tied comfort

In the case above, the strings are thin and long, and you can see them hang off the top of the quilt. Some comforts have short strings frayed (yarn), some tied to have the strings show on the back.

COMFORTER: 2 layers of material with feathers in between. Can be quilted or tied.

feather down comforter

feather down comforter

DUVET: the fabric that slips OVER a comforter, basically a comforter cover, single layer.

SUMMER SPREAD: a top and a bottom, with no center, quilted or tied.

BLANKET: ONE SINGLE layer of fabric (usually thicker), usually with a finished edge.

blanket

blanket

I’ve fielded numerous requests for many of the above items on numerous occasions in the past 4 years, and many times the requestor really wants something other than what they are asking for. This incredibly simple guide is a helpful tool to insure you are asking for what you actually want. Because I would hate for someone to ask for a blanket, wanting a quilt, and actually end up getting a summer spread.

Happy quilting my friends. May you always get what you want, even if it wasn’t what you asked for. 🙂