Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tasting Table Tuesday - Tips for Making Quilts from Shirts

Have you ever made a quilt using flannel shirts?

I have made several quilts from oxford cloth shirts (cotton), but this is my first experience using other fabrics, like flannel.  The shirts I was given are a mix of fibers, including heavy chamois-weight flannel, medium weight flannel, and lightweight acrylic/polyester.  For someone who has always used cottons, this is quite a diverse range of fibers, and they create their own set of challenges, requiring a totally different approach.

So I thought I would share what I've learned, for those of you who might want to try making a quilt from these types of fabrics.

The lightweight acrylics proved to be the most difficult.  They are very fluid, loosely woven, fray very easily, and don't play well with the others.

So I resorted to some tools to help them behave.

The first is spray starch.  It makes a huge difference in the amount of control you have over your fabric.  It took two cans to starch all of the shirts, but it made the cutting so much easier.  (Tip - spray one side of the fabric, then flip it over and press on the other side to avoid flaking.)

But the bias edges of the triangles were still very stretchy and hard to control.  So I used Sharon Schamber's method of basting each seam with Elmer's School Glue, then pressed to dry the glue, and that really helped to stabilize those bias edges and reduce the fraying.  (The acrylics fray like crazy!)

Click here for a video by Sharon's daughter, Christy, demonstrating the basting technique and the special tip for the glue bottle.  (If you use the tip that comes with the glue bottle you'll get way too much glue.  You only need a hair-line to do the job.)

Once all the Flying Geese blocks were finished, it was time to start pairing them up... glue-basting and pressing every seam.

Once they were all glued, I chain-pieced them into pairs.  No pins!  Yay!  That glue works like a charm!

Since many of the fabrics were very heavy-weight flannel, the next hurdle was the bulk in the seam allowances.  My solution was to clip two notches out of the seam allowance at the tip of each goose, allowing the seam allowance to go one way in the center, and the other way at the sides, minimizing the bulk in the side seams when I sew all the rows together.

Of course, all this clipping makes for lots of Quilter's Confetti!!!

It is definitely a lot more work to starch, glue, press, clip, etc...  but the end result is so much neater and precise than I could have ever accomplished without these extra steps.

And when it comes to a job like this, precision is not an option.

These Geese will be flying in perfect formation soon.

I hope these tips help, for anyone contemplating making a quilt like this.  I love to share with other quilters, so please feel free to ask questions if you'd like more information.


1 comment:

  1. What wonderful ideas to make it all go together so beautifully. Thanks for sharing Kathy.


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