T-shirt quilt for 2011 Brenda Novak auction

My 2011 contribution to the Brenda Novak Online Auction for Diabetes Research was to make a t-shirt quilt for the winning bidder. The winner gave me a pile of old t-shirts and I turned them into a twin-sized quilt. This turned out to be an especially fun thing to do, because this pile of old t-shirts represent special memories for their owner. It was interesting to get a small glimpse into the life of the winner.

My first task was to turn the shirts into blocks. Because the motifs were of various sizes, I had to do some planning. Fortunately the winner was willing to let me design this however I liked. Being a tad anal, I decided I wanted a symmetrical look to the quilt. I also did my best to balance the colors, although that orange t-shirt did throw things off! I created 10 12-inch square blocks and then 4 blocks, all 15 inches wide, but of varying heights. Here is the layout I decided on:

I had a discussion with the winner. We decided green would make a nice background for the shirts. I did some shopping and showed her some small samples of green fabrics. She selected the dark green used for the outer border. She also liked the lighter green; I ended up needing to use it for the vertical sashing and then I used it for the backing. I like the extra spark two shades of green give the quilt. Here it is after I finished quilting it, but before I added the binding.

Here's a look at the finished quilt:

I'm pleased to say that the winner was very happy with her quilt. I was glad to hear that, because this quilt presented some special challenges. I stabilized all of the t-shirts, but some stretching still occurred. I had some rippling in two of the borders. Also, I didn't want to quilt through any of the silk screened or embroidered motifs. That meant some areas puff up a little. The "Miami" and "Browns" shirts are actually sweatshirts; the thickness of the fleece was a little hard to work with, but presented fewer problems than I expected.

So, our winner is a graduate of Maryland Law School, with ties to Ohio, who loves dogs, and has vacationed in some interesting spots.

What do your t-shirts say about you? And would you like to preserve those shirts in a quilt made by me? Email me for my rates and scheduling.


  1. Oh, Phyl - I love that! And what a fantastic prize to auction off. (I never ever win anything in that auction - I always get outbid)

    I'm so glad the winner was happy with it. You did a fantastic job.

  2. Phyl! I think that's just fantastic. I know you say the orange t-shirt throws off the colors, but you know what? I think you did a fabulous job balancing that out.

    I always participate on the Diabetes Research Auction (if I can), but I totally missed it this year! :( Bahhh....

  3. Thank you all so much! I'm so glad you all like it. It was such fun to work on.


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