Monday, April 22, 2013

Riffed by Thrift

A few weeks ago, Christine asked me if I could make a T-shirt quilt for her friend Anais, who's graduating from UD in May.  Christine offered to pay for the materials and take me out to lunch in payment.  

Because she's a grad student without a lot of money, I tried to keep the materials cost down.  Instead of buying batting, which is about $17 for a twin size piece on sale, I bought a blanket at Goodwill for $4 to use as the liner.  I also had a pair of double size flannel sheets from GW ($3 each) that I planned to use for the sashing and the back.

Keep in mind that sewing in my house is now a challenge with a large goofy kitten who thinks that the entire house is a cat playground:

and a Lab that wants to stick her nose in everything I do, although I admit that when I took this picture, her worst crime was being underfoot:

Here is Pax watching me work in the only room in our house that has an open floor space big enough for me to spread everything out flat:

This is the shirts laid out on the bathroom floor as I was still deciding how to arrange them and what to use as the sashing:

This picture shows the blue buffalo plaid that I was originally going to use but decided was too dark to go with the shirts.

After I finally had everything cut, arranged, and sewed, I assembled the layers and discovered that the blanket was too soft and stretchy so the finished product didn't lay flat. I had to rip the entire outside seam out and start over.  Once I took it apart, I realized that I had cut the sheet for the back too short.

How many more mistakes could I make on one project?  Maybe I could blame the cat and dog for distracting me....

But sometimes mistakes lead to a better product.  I put the quilt aside for the evening, and the next day, Doug went to the fabric store and bought me a bag of batting.  Then I searched through my fabric stock to see what else I had that could work for the back.  I found a cotton Tommy Hilfiger twin sheet that had small blue and dark red stars on a white background.

I decided that it would work with the blue, red, and tan plaid sashing and borders in a kind of funky way.  It also had a nice light blue and white striped edge that I could fold over the front of the quilt for some added interest (you can see it better a few pix down):

Christine suggested a pillow too, and I had a little bit of material left over from the back (with already finished edges) as well as a partial bag of loose batting in my stash:

One of Anais's T-shirts actually had her name on the sleeve, so I cut that out and ironed it on the border with "Steam a Seamz":

Christine gave the quilt to Anais last night, and she loves it.  I'm really happy with how it turned out, but I also learned a valuable lesson in thrift.  

Sometimes it just doesn't pay to follow the least expensive option, and you have to know when you're beaten.  If I had bought the batting in the first place, I would have saved the $4 on a trashed blanket.  I also had a funny feeling about the plaid flannel sheet for the backing because it wasn't heavy enough to hold its shape, but I went ahead with it anyway and ended up trashing that too once I cut it wrong.

Still, the whole project cost me under $30, and I have lunch with Christine to look forward to.  

She even promised to buy me dessert.

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