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Monthly Archives: July 2013

  • Lace Trim T-Shirt

    July 23, 2013

    Now that we've dealt with those old t-shirts by making a quilt (or some quilts), it is time to make some new t-shirts. You don't want to let the empty space where the old t-shirts were stored go to waste.

    My daughter came for a visit a couple of weeks ago. She wanted to go shopping for some new clothes – as if there are no stores where she lives. Being a good mom, I went with her to a local department store. I have not been in a department store in years. In case you haven't noticed, fabric is not sold in department stores anymore. I think (actually I know, but won't admit to it) my age is showing, some of us remember buying fabric in all the major department stores. While she shopped and tried on clothes, I was taking in all the wonderful lace garments. They had everything from total lace to lace trim dresses, tops and even shorts. The store visit turned into a research trip, and I was reminded why I love being able to sew. It wasn't long before I was sketching ideas to use all the lace I've been stockpiling – I mean collecting. First on the list is a simple t-shirt with lace trim.

    Supplies: T-Shirt – either purchased or one you made Lace – the width and length will be determined by the size of your shirt. If you wear an x-small shirt you may want to use 2 or 3 inch wide lace. My shirt is a large and I use 5 inch wide stretch lace. I have stretch lace in many widths and colors. I prefer to use similar fabrics when possible, so a stretch lace seemed like a good idea for a stretchy knit t-shirt. Thread – Invisible thread for the top or thread to match lace.

    Instructions: 1. Measure the length from the front neck line to the bottom of the front and add two inches. Cut the lace to the result of this calculation. 2. Find the center of the front of your shirt and mark by pressing a fold line or marking the neck line and bottom with pins. 3. Find the lengthwise center of your lace. 4. Line up the center lines and place the lace with one inch beyond the neck line and bottom hem edge.

    5. Pin along the long edges of the lace. 6. Using a zig-zag stitch set at 1.5 width 2.5 length, sew the long edges of the lace. 7. Fold the lace over the neck opening and edge stitch. 8. Fold the lace under the bottom hem and edge stitch. 9. Trim excess lace from the back side at the neck opening and the bottom edge.

  • T-Shirt Quilt - Part 2

    July 18, 2013

    Assembling the Blocks: 1. For any blocks that will be made from 2 or more small t-shirt pieces, sew the pieces together with a 1/2” seam allowance to make a complete block.

    2. Remembering to use a 1/2” seam allowance, sew blocks in rows, either horizontal or vertical, inserting sashing pieces as desired. Then assemble the rows and add borders, if you're wanting them.


    Layer the top with batting (if using batting) and backing. Then quilt as desired. As I am a longarm quilter (that is I use a longarm quilting machine – Facts be known, I have pretty short arms and cannot reach items on high shelves in the kitchen cabinets), my choice is to do an open free-motion design.

    Bonus Project:

    Being frugal, I just couldn't bring myself to toss the left over tee shirt parts. So, I decided it would be fun to create a necklace.

    I tied this one in an overhand knot, but I've seen friends use different techniques to hold the tubes together.

    1. Cut one, some, or all of the remaining t-shirts into one inch strips. 2. You can mix and match the shirts to get the number of strips and colors that you want. 3. Now comes the fun part – stretch the strips as much as you can. You may need to get a friend to help you if you are using extra large shirts. 4. The knit strips will curl, making fabric tubes. The finished length of a tube is determined by the size of the t-shirt from which the strips are cut.. My strips were cut from a size 'large' shirt.

    Your style preference will influence how many tubes you want in your necklace and possible color mixes. I've seen some very impressive multi-tube single and mixed-color creations.

    Of course, you may just need some dust rags or have some other creative use for the t-shirt leftovers. Those of you with a strong constitution may decide to throw the scraps away – but I know you are few in number.

  • T-Shirt Quilt - Part 1

    July 11, 2013

    Whoa there! - we are NOT making t-shirts out of quilts – but we are making a quilt out of parts of several t-shirts. Most of the readers of this blog have a collection of t-shirts from vacations, rock concerts, sports or hobbies (I'll bet on that prediction) that they can't bear to throw away.

    This blog topic is so overwhelming that it will appear in two parts. Neither part deals with how to acquire t-shirts nor the psychology of why we have t-shirt collections. If you need help in these areas, consult with someone who might be able to help you – not that it will help much, but you can try to get help.

    Your t-shirt quilt can be any size. If you have many t-shirts, you can make every block from a t-shirt. If you have only a few t-shirts, you can add some plain fabric blocks if the finished quilt size needs more blocks than t-shirts on hand. The plain fabric can be woven cotton fabric or cut from unprinted areas of  t-shirts.

    Getting Started:

    1. Pull out all the t-shirts that you think you want to use. Sort them by size of images on the shirts and perhaps a theme or related themes. 2. Roughly measure the sizes of the images and make a list of the heights and widths of the designs you want to use. 3. Decide – in general terms – how you want your finished quilt to look, overall size, and block arrangement. These criteria are likely to change as you audition block arrangements.


    1. T-shirts – Wash all used t-shirts once. New t-shirts should be washed twice to soften the fabric. 2. Non-stretchy fusible interfacing – Don't use a knit interfacing. You are using the interfacing to make the knit t-shirt non-stretchy for ease in sewing. 3. Woven cotton fabric – If you are going to add sashing and borders 4. Fabric for backing – You can use t-shirts on both sides if you have a lot of t-shirts. Plain cotton backing with batting is good or use polar fleece for backing and omit the batting. 5. Batting – A polyester batting is best if you are going to tie your quilt. A cotton or 80/20 blend batting is better for machine quilting.

    Let's get started: T-shirts:

    1. Take the side seams apart, if knit in the round, cut one side.

    2. Remove sleeves. If they have small logos remember to save them.

    3. Cut the fusible interfacing about 2 inches larger than the size of your unsewn blocks. 4. Following manufacturer's advice, fuse the interfacing to the back side of the tee-shirt sections you plan to use. 5. Note: Use a 1/2” seam allowance instead of the usual 1/4” used for other types of quilts.

    6. If all your blocks are going to be the same size, make a template from mat board, cardboard or plastic template material to mark your t-shirts. Remember to add a 1/2” seam allowance on all sides. You can also purchase a tee-shirt template that you can use with your rotary cutter from Moore's Sewing Center.

    Let the fun begin:

    1. Clear a place on the floor, or a bed top to lay out your blocks. 2. A digital picture of each potential layout will be useful as you rearrange the blocks. The pictures will also be helpful as you start to assemble your blocks.

    To be continued next week – – – –

  • Hoito Bag

    July 2, 2013

    Hoito Bag

    This bag is not your traditional bag with a well defined bottom shape, side walls, and a top opening.  It reminds me of the wrapping on a candied apple where all sides of the wrapping are gathered and held with a twist-tie at the stick which is the handle that you use to hold the apple while you are eating it. The bag, however, does have two 'built-in' fabric handles and two sides that are kind of self-closing because of elastic sewn in – there is  no stick to be stuck into the contents of the bag.

    I first saw one of these bags when I visited friends in Maui back in the 80's. The size of a Hoito bag is determined by the size of the square or rectangular piece of fabric that you use. Keep in mind that bigger tends to be synonymous with heavier, so it is best to go for the smaller size for your first bag. I speak from experience. The first one I made was big enough to put a queen size quilt in. Since then I've made smaller versions, generally big enough to hold a beach towel, suntan lotion, and a few other essentials needed for a day at the beach or by the pool. The bag also makes a great reusable shopping bag when you visit your local farmers market – just remember how heavy a watermelon and a few ears of corn can get.

    Supplies: Fabric – 1 yard ¾ inch wide elastic – ½ yard Thin batting – 2 pieces 5” x 26” Twill tape or strips of selvage – 2 pieces 36” long 1/2” ribbon or fabric ties – 24” (optional)

    Cutting: Bag – Cut one 27” x 44” rectangle Handles – Cut two 3” x 44” strips Batting – Cut two 5” x 26” strips

    Bag Instructions: 1. Overcast all four raw edges of the bag fabric with a serger or sewing machine.

    2. Press a 1” casing along both of the long (44” in this example) sides of the fabric.

    3. Place a pin 5” in from both ends of both long sides.

    4. Stitch the casing starting and ending at the 5” marks.

    5. Cut elastic into two 9” pieces, and insert a length of elastic into each casing.

    6. To prevent the elastic from disappearing into the casing, safety pin one end to the fabric before pulling the other end through.

    7. Secure the elastic ends with a zig-zag stitch.

    8. Press and sew a 1 3/4” casing along the remaining two edges. Optional – if you want, cut two 12” lengths of ribbon or make your own ties from fabric. The ties can be centered and sewn under the casing for tying the bag shut.

    Handle Instructions:

    1. Fold handle fabric, right-sides together, in half along its length and serge or sew with a 1/4” seam allowance.

    2. Turn fabric right-side out.

    3. Fold batting width-wise into fourths to form a long and skinny batting strip. Use pins to help hold the layers together. Center the twill tape on batting, leaving a 5” tail at each end.

    4. Stitch down the middle of the twill tape and batting through all thicknesses.

    5. At each end of the batting strips, insert a large safety pin through the batting and twill tape.

    6. Pull a batting strip through each handle. Gather the handle fabric so the ends of the fabric and batting are flush at each end.

    7. Re-pin the safety pins through the handle fabric, batting and twill tape at all ends and pull a handle through each bag casing. 8. Remove safety pins and pull 2” of handle fabric free from batting at all ends.

    9. For each handle, overlap the handle ends 2” and sew across the width using a zig-zag stitch a couple of times. 10. Pull the handle through the casing until the stitched overlap is hidden in the casing.

    11. Your Hoito bag is ready to use.

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