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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)

Like so many of your projects, inspirational! You are so talented Brooke. Thanks for sharing.

04.30.2009 | Unregistered CommenterMadschill

I love the idea behind this quilt! It looks like such a snuggle blanket!

04.30.2009 | Unregistered CommenterLindzie

holy smokes! i love it! great job.

05.1.2009 | Unregistered Commentersk

hooray! so happy to see it complete. it's just right- simple and lovely.

05.1.2009 | Unregistered Commenterkatie

Wow! That turned out great.

05.1.2009 | Unregistered CommenterChristine Jensen

this is so very special. he will cherish this, always. I've been saving for my kiddos. . . but daddy's shirts aren't as spiffy--when you are the CFO at a coffee business you own, well, things are pretty casual. Still saving the casual cotton might make something lovely and comfortable for the kiddos, too.

05.1.2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

I have been so enthralled with the idea of this quilt since you first mentioned it, and have been determined to make a similar one for my son, even though I have no sewing skills whatsoever. I will be going one of two routes that exist in my skill range: sewing squares of fabric onto an existing blanket (sans quilting), or taking pictures of my husband's shirts, printing them onto heat transfer paper, and ironing them onto an existing blanket. Perhaps my makeshift ideas will inspire someone else : ) (By the way, the incorporation of shirt elements is pure genius!)

how lovely! what a treasure you made. i really love the edges and the grid fabric with it... so classic.

05.1.2009 | Unregistered CommenterLynne

What an amazing quilt..I love how you did the edge binding. Perfect details...and inspiring, too!

05.1.2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Your talent blinds me. I have never looked at my husband's dress shirts and thought, "This would make a treasured quilt for our sons."

05.1.2009 | Unregistered CommenterJules

I too have been too scared to wash any of my quilts, but recently I threw caution to the wind and bunged the lot in the machine. Gentle wash. The best thing is to make sure you do it on a hot sunny day so you can lie it flat outside to dry - I think it's the drying that can stretch the fibres inside.

And your son's new quilt is beautiful. It's always the way when you finally finish another quilt that you have a million ideas for the next one. I always have at least three that I want to start.

And here's my version of the husband shirt quilt... http://pandorapocket.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/01/davids-quilt.html

05.2.2009 | Unregistered CommenterClaire

I love this quilt and it's a wonderful heirloom for your son.

I made a quilted pillowcase for my Mom out of some of my Dad's shirts a year and a half ago while she was undergoing chemo (http://yesimadethat.blogspot.com/2007/08/quilted-cushion-cover.html). The front is pieced and the back is the front of one of the shirts intact with snaps and pockets. We lost Dad in 2003 to ALS and now my Mom lost her battle and I have the pillow with me and cherish both the memories of my Dad it represents and those of my Mom and the comfort it gave her.

On a less maudlin note, I recently made a throw quilt out of several old dress shirts that my boyfriend was getting rid of. I love that one too, but for far less tear-wrenching reasons.

05.2.2009 | Unregistered CommenterLori

Yay, another Pfaff owner! I have my mom's 30 year-old Pfaff, and it's still going strong.

Your quilt is beyond lovely, and how special for your little boy! My mother-in-law recently gave me a stack of unfinished quilt tops that have been handed down in her family. There are a couple made from men's shirting that I just love. I'm hoping to back, quilt, and bind at least a couple of them this year :o)

05.3.2009 | Unregistered Commentermarne

this is so beautiful. i love the "love mom" part - he will always treasure this and it will keep him happy and cozy! joannaxoxo

05.5.2009 | Unregistered Commenterjoanna goddard

I still have a whole bag of cut fabric pieces for a baby quilt that I cut while pregnant for my 7 year old! I'm thinking it's going to be for her first born at this point! congratulations on finally finishing!!! it's really gorgeous. love the shirt details and am thinking how cute women's blouses would be for a quilt for my gals... uh, oh.

05.7.2009 | Unregistered Commenterangelina hart

Just love the historical note about sewing with your mom...I do something similar, in which we go to Oregon from California and I sewed (last year) with my mother's left over from high school sewing machine. Oy! I was thrilled to come home to my Bernina and my old Viking will probably make the trek north with us this year...and I hope to make a quilt or two with her out of my dad's shirts. Thank you for sharing all the photos and the dress shirt inspirations.

05.7.2009 | Unregistered Commenteranie

It's beautiful Brooke!

I once had someone tell me to label & date all my quilts. (She collects antiques and often wonders about the history of quilts she finds.) While I hope the quilts I make are forever treasured & in my family, I am now sure to include a date with the message like "Rebekah, Happy 12th Birthday, love Mom. January 2005." If nothing else, at least they'll remember when & why I gave them each one.

05.10.2009 | Unregistered CommenterTania

What a beautiful quilt. I am not a quilter but find quilts beautiful and fascinating. I might consider making one if only I could draw or cut a straight line - I can't hang pictures straight either....

05.13.2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngie

This is a great quilt (my works-in-progress list just got a little longer...) - What's the backing fabric? It's terrific, but I'm not familiar with it. Thanks so much!

05.25.2009 | Unregistered CommenterBear

I have a stack of my husbands shirts that I've saved for this same idea. I haven't made a quilt before and I've been at a loss at how to begin. They've sat in a basket for over a year! This post was pure inspiration for me. I love all of your details and that it was stitched on a Pfaff. I bought my first one (very basic) last year and am so in love. Thank you for sharing your process.

05.26.2009 | Unregistered Commentermaya*made

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