Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Keepsake Rag Quilt

What to do with keepsake clothing-namely old, well worn Tshirts from a loved one- rather than just let them stay squirreled away in the back of the closet with some other things.

Of all the clothing we kept when my husband passed, why the tank tops? Because that is what he wore all summer as soon as it was warm enough to put them on. They were tank tops that I had been making for close to 30 years. We couldn't find the shirts with pockets and he had to have pockets so I started making them for him. Every 2 or 3 years I made a trip through the fabric store to get more t-shirt knits and set in to make another slew of the designer wonders. There may be one or two of the originals in the stack. 

He was well known for the famous [infamous?] shirts that he wore everywhere. His golfing, bowling, fishing buddies chuckled at them-Do you think he cared? Not one bit. There are photos at almost every summer gathering of him in one or the other of his tank tops and he had to have a ball cap that matched almost exactly. Oh, yes, he was a fashion icon. 

Our grandson, Travis, asked a couple of months ago if he could have something made from his Papaw's things. Travis has been with us almost from the time he was born and though all of us have been affected greatly, Trav is the one most affected. His only father figure that has watched him all through his school events, his baseball/basketball/football games will not be in the stands any more for him. 

I got out the tank tops and other items the other day, bought some polar fleece in of all things-camouflage [Papaw also wore a lot of camouflage- we live in the country and the area squirrels are just now realizing the great white hunter is no longer stalking about] and began whacking away.

The first thought was to just cut out squares maybe 12" or 14" or 16" and back with matching polar fleece squares. I didn't have the time or patience for any in depth quilt project. One of those quick rag quilt things would do.   Some of the shirts were selected but if they were cut into the squares, a lot of fabric would be wasted so I just cut off the bottoms under the arm holes and left the rectangles whole. They measured about 16" by 22". There was a t-shirt from one of Trav's basketball tournaments that his Papaw had worn. [All us booster parents and grandparents ordered matching shirts for the tournaments]. The transfers from the front and back of the shirt were salvaged and set the tone for the whole rag quilt. Corresponding polar fleece blocks were cut for all the t-shirt pieces. 
Match t-shirt with polar fleece pieces-wrong sides facing. Pin blocks together with back sides together. Sew together with about 1" hem allowance. The hem allowance will be cut every 1/2 to give the ragged affect on the front of the quilt. 
Please, Please, Please!!! have a great pair of sharp scissors or snips for all that fringing/ragging. There are snips especially made for these rag quilts that are hand savers. I found a pair of Fiskars that I don't even remember buying that were great and ordered a couple of pairs from CutRateCrafts for my sister and me.They made the jobs so much easier and enjoyable.
The camouflage back

The whole thing turned out to be about 55" by 55".
I can't just make just one of these memory quilts of course. The cutting table is piled high with the shirts and polar fleece to make one for the rest of the grandchildren. Each will be different but each grandchild will have a Papaw quilt to cuddle in.  

Here is a step by step video for the whole process, children and teenagers especially love making these:

Have you checked out the fun, online classes available @ There are classes for everyone and at great prices for gift giving or for yourself. SOME ARE
FREE Classes! 
Creative Quilt Backs by Elizabeth Hartman
others start at only $9.99 but all are super sale priced-WOW!!
Scrap Quilting by Pepper Cory
Happy quilting, Happy crafting and God bless you.
Carolyn Wainscott

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