The T-Shirt Quilt for My Son’s Graduation

What kid doesn’t have a mile-high collection of t-shirts? 

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Usually, these tees are a visual history of the things, places and activities deepest in the hearts of our children, a record more true than any trophy or scrapbook.

Like many mothers, I decided that making a tee shirt quilt for my son would be a perfect high school graduation gift. Although I’m a pretty confident quilter and have practiced the craft since the late ‘80s, it somehow made me queasy to cut into these treasures. Plus, I had no experience working with stretchy t-shirts. And a tight deadline.

So I hired a pro from my local guild, Sandy Merritt, and gave her very explicit instructions. I knew which tees I wanted to feature, and where, and what fabric I wanted to use between them. He was totally nuts for trucks as a toddler, but I thought 2 truck shirts was enough. I also wanted to include some embroidered patches, like the one he got for reading extra books for the library’s summer reading program.

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My son really loved this gift, and we’re going to hang it over his bed now. Partly because these quilts go back to toddlerhood, he’s not interested in taking this to college. I told him if ever stops wearing all his high school theater tees, I’ll make the next quilt myself!

I wanted to share this because I’m so happy about how it came out, and to encourage others to try this.

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TIP: if you are collecting tee shirts for a future quilt, let me pass on some advice. Store all the shirts carefully, and in a place you won’t forget as the years roll by. Sandy Merritt adds that you should NEVER store them in a dark plastic bag: not only will that lack of air cause them to deteriorate, but she knows a mother who diligently saved tee shirts for years in such a fashion. Until the day her husband decided to help clean up clutter around the house, and assumed the garbage bag was full of …. Garbage. 

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