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a quilt for my sweet boy

Remember this color palette? Finally, the quilt is actually done. And my boy couldn't be happier. This is the first quilt I've actually finished since I took Joelle's patchwork quilting class almost three years ago.. it sat for over a year all pieced and ready to be quilted, and then once quilted, sat for a few months patiently waiting to be bound. And of course, now that it's done, I have a million ideas for the next one.

For those of you who are new, this quilt was made from a pile of old dress shirts my husband was throwing away. I love the idea of my son sleeping under a quilt made from his father's shirts.. I tried to incorporate as many little details as I could, a pocket here, a placket there.

I sewed most of this quilt while visiting my mom. When I lived back East, I would try to fly home each summer for a few weeks to visit my parents in California. This quilt came with me on a few of those trips. My mom has a beautiful Pfaff that sews like a dream, and switching back to my machine sometimes felt like switching from a Mercedes to a Pinto. (For my birthday last year, I finally got a Pfaff of my own.. not quite as nice as my mom's but it's so lovely to sew on..)

I made a little sketch of my quilt in Illustrator before I cut up the fabrics, so I could see it a few different ways. I decided to just keep the design very simple, in hopes that it would have a classic feel and that my son might keep it on his bed for some time.

For the backing, I wanted something with a very subtle pattern. I found a Japanese grid fabric at Purlsoho that was perfect. (thanks for your help Jen!)

When it came time for the binding, I didn't know what to do. I had originally bought a solid blue fabric, but it seemed so plain. In the end I decided to sew together some of the extra squares I had leftover from the shirts and piece the binding. I'm so glad I did. I think it makes the back look almost as pretty as the front.

I did a very simple "stitch in the ditch" quilting. For some reason, I'm just scared to death to throw it in the washing machine, so it has yet to be washed. I think the squares will have a little more poof once they've been washed and dried.

I wanted to leave a message to C somewhere so I finished it off with a little cross stitch... "to C, love MOM". Using a grid for the backing certainly came in handy.

After finishing my quilt I started researching other quilts made from men's dress shirts... turns out it's not such a new idea. I came across so many beautiful examples, I will be sharing them with you over the next few days. They make my simple little quilt look quite elementary... but my son loves it, and that makes me so very happy.

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Reader Comments (64)

Beautiful! I love the simplicity. Great job!

04.30.2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate

this is amazing - really moving to think about your son sleeping under dad's old shirts. a family heirloom for sure!

04.30.2009 | Unregistered CommenterLecia

I'm a fairly new follower and I love this quilt and the story behind it. I live in the east and go to visit my mom in CA for a few weeks every spring. And we sew together. I'm a beginner, so I use that time to get her input and advice while I work on her much nicer machine.

04.30.2009 | Unregistered CommenterKiasa

I was totally inspired when you shared this idea awhile back that I started saving my husband's shirts. I am actually watching and wishing for a hole or ink stain to appear in more of them so they can be added to the pile. I love the finished project, and only hope mine turns out half as beautiful and quirky. This is the perfect solution for a boy's quilt!

04.30.2009 | Unregistered Commenterkarin

Someday I'll have to take a quilting class. That's on my list of things to do. What an amazing job you did! What a treat for C.

04.30.2009 | Unregistered Commenterjen jafarzadeh

What a lovely idea... I'm a mother of 2 boys and I love crafts. Altough my grandmother and aunt are great dressmakers, I never got to learn the "art"... but I love to wander thru the internet and get to see beautiful work like yours.
And I think it takes a lot of imagination to do nice things for boys cause boys will be boys and they don't apreciate dolls and little dresses... lol... this is a very good idea and I absolutely love your stich cross message... adorable... Hope you continue to do beautiful things like this quilt.

04.30.2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndreia Vale

Wow. My favorite part is the sweet little cross stitched message.

04.30.2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie

So very nice... I like how shirt details showed up in there, as well as the binding. That was a special brand of perfection. It's good to have it done, huh? (Go ahead and wash it, you'll love it even more!)

04.30.2009 | Unregistered Commentermiss chris

this is a beautiful story, gorgeous quilt. so so special.

04.30.2009 | Unregistered Commenterxanthe

How beautiful! Quilts always make me feel nostalgic...

And, of course, so do cookies!

04.30.2009 | Unregistered CommenterRosebud

Love how you kept in all the shirty detailing. Such a perfect quilt for a boy.

04.30.2009 | Unregistered Commenteraneela

wow. really special.

04.30.2009 | Unregistered Commenterjones

Just great! I can't wait to see what you have found from your research. I am currently working on a similar quilt for a friend's deceased husband and need inspiration and information. did you use stabilizer or backing or anything on the shirts?? What did you use for the white squares - shirts or regular white fabric? Again, great job!!

04.30.2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Gorgeous. I have always wanted to use old clothes, but haven't gotten around to it. It will be treasured for years, I am sure.

04.30.2009 | Unregistered CommenterBeachMama

such a treasure - not much you can make for a boy that he will keep on his bed forever. my aunt had quilts made with old dresses from her 4 girls and some fancy patterned boxers and probably shirts from her husband - so much fun to look a†.

04.30.2009 | Unregistered Commentermarnie

I felt a little hint of guilt reading this post as there are currently 3 unfinished quilts in my studio - Congrat's on finishing and to have such a beautiful quilt - how rewarding! The cross-stitch message is a wonderful idea!

what a fantastic idea! i love the idea of using the shirts. brilliant. truly.

04.30.2009 | Unregistered Commenterkirsten

When you first showed the fabrics I was excited to see how it all came together. It's really beautiful. I look forward to seeing the other shirt quilts, also. Who knew that shirting was often used for quilts, but it has the same appeal that the insides of envelopes do.

04.30.2009 | Unregistered CommenterTIA

Goodness, I just adore this quilt you've made. I've always toyed with the idea of making a quilt out of men's shirts, even my own. It's such a good way to use small pieces of high quality fabric. You've combined everything in such a lovely pallet and I enjoy the details of the original clothes that you left in. Well done. Happy to find your blog too.

04.30.2009 | Unregistered CommenterRansacked Goodsq

Men's dress shirts are also wonderful for dying. They take colour beautiful and wash wonderfully.

Don't be afraid to wash it. It will crinkle up because the shirts probably won't shrink and the batting will. It will make it all so much softer.

Great job!

04.30.2009 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

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