Making an Heirloom Shirt Quilt

As I have written about in multiple posts, my grandfather passed away last summer suddenly. While it was a sudden and shocking passing for us, over the past year, we have learned to live with our grief and loss. We are now reveling in my Papa Alan’s life instead of being so overwhelmed by the hole left when he died.

One of the things that I did when he passed away and we were cleaning out his apartment, was that I found all of his colorful button-up shirts and put them in a big garbage bag. And boy, did he have the collection! These are just a portion of the shirts that I took:

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

I held onto these shirts for about a year before I knew what I wanted to do with them. I really wasn’t sure what I could do, and then my friend Crissy gave me a great idea: make a family heirloom quilt out of them. They are terrific colors, it would be something wonderful to use and remember Papa for years and years to come. She shared a great quilt pattern with me, and I immediately got to work washing all of the shirts to prep them for the quilt.

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

Most of my posts are tutorials. However, because I am using a published pattern on this quilt, I didn’t want to break down exactly how to make it. I will show you the highlights of putting it together.

I started with figuring out which shirt colors I wanted to use and where they would fit on the quilt. I made this drawing to help lay it out:

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

Do you like all of the color-coding? I wanted to be sure to cut exactly the amount of material I wanted, and I didn’t want to waste anything, if I could help it.

That first cut was the hardest to do, but then I just told myself that instead of unusable shirts, I would be able to turn them into something beautiful.

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

Once I had all 56 rectangles cut out, I then cut out my dark gray fabric… 112 pieces, to be exact! I made some shortcuts and cut a few pieces at once, which seemed to help my sanity a great deal.

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.comFamily Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

I then used my new 1/4″ quilting foot to sew the colorful shirt rectangle into the center of two dark gray rectangles.

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.comFamily Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

Once they were unfolded, you could see it start to come to life a bit more.

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

Once all 56 “squares” were put together, I had to figure out the order and sew them together as carefully and straight as possible into rows.

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

Then, being the Type A “perfectionist” that I am, I labeled the rows, did some pinning, and then some sewing together.

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.comFamily Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

Once I had the quilt pieced together, I took a look at it. Pretty close to the plan, I think!

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

Lucy loved it too!

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

After a bit of measuring, I figured out how much of the gray cross-hatch border I wanted, cut it, and sewed it to the quilt.

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.comFamily Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

I decided that I wanted to make my own binding, so I cut long strips of the dark gray material (4″ wide… this is a wide binding). At the ends, I placed them at a 90 degree angle.

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

I then imagined that I made a square in the corner. I drew a pencil line from one corner to the other corner.

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

This line then became my guide line for sewing.

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

I cut off the excess material. I then folded it back and ironed it flat.

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.comFamily Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

You can then do what you want to with the binding (folding the edges in, or waiting and attaching it a different way to the quilt).

I then laid out the quilt, batting, and the underneath piece (2 different materials I had sewn together).

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.comFamily Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

Then came a LOT of pinning and re-pinning together so that the material didn’t move around.

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

 

This was Lucy’s favorite part, as it was so soft because of the batting.

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

I had a bit of trouble quilting it all together in the way I had originally planned, so I just quilted it in strips. I then finished it off with the binding, and I was done.

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

It’s not perfect by any means, but neither was my grandfather.

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

Plus, it still smells like Papa- Listerine.

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

I love the back fabric. Although it looks turquoise and purple, there are other colors sewn into the material, so in different lights, the fabric looks different.

Family Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.comFamily Heirloom Shirt Quilt - DoyleDispatch.com

We were able to use the quilt a few days after I finished it for our maternity pictures. Don’t worry, I will have a post soon with more maternity pictures!

DoryTimTwins - DoyleDispatch.com

DoryTimTwins - DoyleDispatch.com


DoryTimTwins - DoyleDispatch.com

 

 

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