Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rags To Riches... I Believe! I Believe!

It's me, Quiet Quilter from One More Quilt.  Thanks to Madame Samm I am here again with a story of a special quilt.

Moral of this story before it even starts.....Stash is where you find it, if you just believe!

About the first of 2009, DH saw a TV show about the Gees Bend Quilts.  One quilt was made by a widow from her husband's old clothes.  DH fell in love.  He wanted one.  He wanted a Crazy Quilt.

He dug around in his closet and came up with this: 

I thought to myself, this is going to be one boring quilt....all those faded blues and browns and dark I really want to do this???

DH then stated certain requests: the older the clothes the better (old paint splatters was a plus!). 

He wanted large pieces, batting preferred, very little topstitching or design,  big enough to drag the floor when put on the bed, (at least that was my interpretation) and "no real hurry".

That last statement was almost his downfall.  Say "No Real Hurry" to a quilter who has other UFOs or WIPs, and you are asking for it.  Especially when the quilter isn't sure of what she is doing.

I have a bad habit....I really hesitate (put off, delay, etc) when I am starting something I have never done before.  I had never made a crazy quilt before... and a possible tutorial on this one would make veteran quilters pale.  I was SO unsure of myself...

I nosed around in my closet and came up with a find--some old pieces of muslin, about 36" square that came from my mother.  I decided to use these as foundation for some of the blocks and get more muslin when I needed it. 

I did satisfy DH by making 4 blocks.  Since he wanted large pieces, I ended up making 16 1/2" blocks .   If DH wanted Crazy, then he was going to get Crazy.  I incorporated a pants zipper into one of these first blocks.

I did not trim these blocks right away.  In fact I did not do any trimming for over a year as it turned out because, in the fall of 2009, I stuffed his clothes into a bag and put it in the back of my closet, where they aged and kept my odd pieces of batting company.


A year later, May 2010.  I come home and find that DH has located the bag of clothes and very politely dumped them in front of my sewing machine.....hint, hint, hint.

Most were still in their original form, shirts and jeans, with a few slacks thrown in.  I had to have some sort of organization to this madness if I was ever able to make any progress.

Sooooo, without rhyme or reason, I started cutting everything in hopefully useable pieces.  And this is what I ended up with about a month later....

Pants in the big container, and separated shirts in other containers. Please note my sophisticated identification method.....

Now, at least, I could pick and choose.

In July, 2010 I found I had completed a total of 8 blocks since I started in May, 2009.  I needed 30.

And I was having a problem.....

I was also working on other quilts, as we normally do in Quiltland.  My sewing room was not in the pristine shape as I had hoped....I blamed it all on those containers of cut clothes.  I was constantly having to move them from one place to another, getting them out of my way while I worked on Other Stuff.  I was starting to realize I was going to have to actually finish this quilt...if for no other reason than it was attacking my sewing room with the "Push, Shove, Pile" virus. (shiver, shake, quiver).

So I put myself in second gear, and with jerks and jumps, during the summer I made a few more blocks to add to the collection.

We found coffee fabric for the backing and, needing just a little more, chose the "Man" cloth from my stash. 

Come the end of September, 2010, I had actually put 4 of the blocks together with sashing, batting, backing and all.  Well, whoop-de-do!

This was the first time I had tried the quilt-as-you-go method.  I decided to use ties instead of quilting.  It seemed the obvious thing to do....

But again, I was slowing down, trying to find excuses to do something goal was to finish one block a day...and the quilt by the end of winter.  DH appreciated this effort, stating he was really looking forward to using the quilt during the warm weather of spring and summer....

Pokey, pokey, block here, one block there, I would NEVER get this done!


October 15, 2010 - I read this post on Stash Manicure by Plum Cox, who said, among other things, "Just Do It!!"

Something clicked!  I said to myself, shove everything aside, forget all other quilty notions and projects, and get busy!  Thanks, Plum!

So, October became known as the "barreling to the finish line", or "Katy, bar the door, the horse is loose!" month. 

Before I knew it, I had all 30 blocks done and had given them to DH to decide the order and arrangement.  He immediately commandeered the den floor and had a ball!

 When he had arranged them the way he wanted, I took a picture (for safety's sake) and slowly started putting the blocks together.  And I even enjoyed the lovely weather outside.

 As I worked, the bulk of the finished quilt increased.  I am not a weight lifter, so I had to slow down and rest after each episode of sewing rows together. 

Rearranging my sewing tables to hold the bulk was a brilliant idea on my part (pat on back).

(Side note: Please notice my "elevator" chair.   After I get up from sewing, it takes about 5-10 minutes and slowly "rises" to the occasion., ending up as high as my table.  When ready to sew, I have to climb into it, release the lever at the bottom and it slowly sinks to normal has character.)

I was able to finish on November 4, 2010.

Dimensions: 87" x 105"
Weight 10 lbs.

Look close and you will find several jean pockets, some shirt pockets,  pocket linings, yokes, collars, cuffs, buttons,  and the infamous pants zipper.


 I had quite a bit left over and I was tired of working with clothes.  So I made a large dog pillow from a denim piece and stuffed it with the leftover stash.

DH liked the dog pillow so much that I made him a pillowcase to go with his new quilt.

And the final benefit I received from finishing????

I went from this (remember?)

to this

Empty containers just in time for a sewing room "makeover"!

Now to get the energy to do that!

Thanks again, Madame Samm and all you quilters.

PS: (Added about a week later.....DH casually made the statement..."Ya know, I think she (Gees Bend quilter) ripped the seams out of her husband's clothes and used the entire legs (sleeves, backs, etc) instead of making blocks.." He looked at me and added quickly, "....but I like mine better...."


  1. I laughed so hard at this! My husband is hinting that he wants a quilt. I am NOT letting him see this post! I love the finished quilt, but I know how much work went into that. A true labor of love. Great job and thank you so much for the very funny post. Just what I needed tonight. ((Hugs)) to you and hubby too!

  2. I read this on your blog, and thought how wonderful! I think you did a fantastic job on such a big project. And to go from all those filled tubs to empty - bless you. But you added the shirt pillow case since - I love it. I think DH owes you breakfast in bed for at least a week for this one.

  3. Love this story! he quilt looks fab, gives me the incentive to just get on with it too!

  4. I agree with Marilyn - I dare not let my DH see this post. It was a wonderful story!

    And so do you like quilt as you go? Very clever way to handle the wait.

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Good Morning Frances...from the moment you shared with me this most delightful tale, I have been downright AWED...I just love the fact that your most "delicious" husband got involved..Delicious I say as I just know this was a quilt made from SWEET LOVE. And to tell you the truth, the results are over the top impressive.
    A tale of how to use one's own scraps indeed...I just love this post and to have it shared by both of you...well simply

  6. gosh! that's so funny! Thanks for sharing this wonderful story with us :-)

  7. I have been avoiding cleaning our closet. Some of those clothes are 40 years old! Now I know why (groan)!!!

  8. Wow! What an amazing story and an awesome quilt! Way to go and look at all that space you have now! =)

  9. I love your story, you should be proud! The quilt is amazing! I have started collecting old shirts from my husband, but it will take some time to get enough to make a quilt, he has trouble parting with the old shirts. The older they are the better he likes them :o)

  10. That's the coolest story I've read in a long time! And I love the shot of your DH putting the blocks where HE wants them... I can only imagine the (horror?) interesting combination my husband would make f I gave him free reign like that... Now I want to try it! Maybe next year.
    Congratulations on finishing the quilt-- it looks awesome!

  11. That is truly awesome, and you tell a great story. My dh could never part with any clothes, so I won't have to worry that he'll want one of these! Enjoy your masterpiece.

  12. I come here for the knowledge you all share with me on a daily basis. Today I welcomed the soft smiles and heartfelt emotion you both stirred within me. I am thankful for Samm and Stash for finding such great guests. You are certainly one of them. Love your post hugs Katt

  13. Great quilt and a great story to go with it. One has to wonder, what is your husband doing for clothes now???

  14. Thank you for sharing, it is great to have a husband who appreciates what you do and even encourages you! (Mine does, so I know). This is a lovely quilt with many happy memories too!
    Good luck on the reorganizing!

  15. I love the jean pocket in the quilt

  16. I pick out super cute but manly fabric and a fun design and my husband says "I dont really need a quilt sweetie, we have enough, but thank you"... and your husband is grateful for one made out of his old clothes? no fair! haha

  17. What a great story - but I don't dare show it to my husband. :) Of course, he doesn't keep many old clothes (unlike me who has them in several different sizes to fit any occasion!) so I might be ok. But he would love the idea! blessings, marlene

  18. A great story and a fabulous quilt. congrats on finishing it and moving on to empty bins.

  19. Great story! I am making a second quilt for my DH right now...the first took me five years! Love how yours came out...

  20. Love your story....made me laugh, especially where your husband gives you not so subtle what a great quilt! Thank you for sharing!

  21. Awesome, awesome story -- well told!! And the quilt looks GREAT! Thanks for sharing it with us! :)

  22. He made that last remark JUST in time, huh? *L* Quilt As You Go is a great way to deal with these large heavy quilts, but at the last, they need to be all put together, don't they? No way to avoid that. But I love how you lined up tables to handle the weight. You're a very smart quilter.

    What a great quilt that is! I hope you signed and dated it somewhere.

  23. That is a great story and a wonderful quilt. I love the use of pockets, zippers and shirt labels to add lots of interest. You did a great job!

  24. I really love your quilt. It turned out lovely. I'd love to make a crazy quilt like that I see how yours looks finished, I may have to try it. It is truly beautiful.

  25. I was laughing so loud my DH came over to ask me what was so funny. :) I just told him the joys of marriage between two people who have obviously loved each other a long time. Your finished quilt is spectacular and truly one of a kind. How inspiring! And that shirt pillow case is super cute. Thanks for sharing your story!

  26. What a cracking result, love it.

  27. I love it!!! This is what I need to do with my husbands T-shirts. Thank you for sharing your story.

  28. Oh how wonderful!! Love this story and how lovely that your husband wanted your handiwork, your creativity. Great job- good stuff!

  29. Absolutely loved this post. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing. I would be delighted if my husband gave my quilting more than a passing nod. You're a lucky woman (and he's a lucky man!).

  30. Smart man! He knows when he has pushed far enough.
    The quilt is really fun. Maybe I will try that with my grandkids clothes someday.

  31. Oh my gosh, you looked in my closet, did you? I have been collecting shirts and pants for a long time too. And DH will ask me every once in a while, are you going to need more shirts or do you have enough? I think that is a hint........

    glen: you wrote this just for me, right?

  32. What a wonderful story! I think it's so great that your husband got involved! He loves what you do!! That is just so great! I love your quilt! Using clothing to make a quilt is so fun. That's what our ancestors did! It's great to keep that tradition alive!! Thanks for sharing!!

  33. Empty fabric boxes that aren't new boxes. Now that's a sight to see! You've done a great job on your husband's quilt.

  34. Thank you so much for sharing your trials and tribulations it certainly is a very entertaing post. Oh and the out come was super spectacular it makes me want to cut up all of my hubbies clothing.

  35. I love your story. Are the containers still empty?

  36. Gorgeous quilt and a happy hubby. Life doesn't get much better than that! Thanks for sharing!

  37. Funny story! I loved it! I have to say thanks for the warning. I'll be ready when my hubs asks me to make him that kind of quilt. I'm totally keeping in mind "JUST SAY NO"!!!

  38. What a great story here! And it seems like you must have one happy husband and there is nothing like a little extra space in the 'ole sewing room. Fantastic!

  39. What a wonderful quilt for the both of you! Full of love and memories, just like all the best quilts.

  40. Great story with a happy ending..."and they all lived happily ever after." thanks for sharing.

  41. Love the Gees Bend inspiration! What a wonderful story for a scraplicious quilt.

  42. awesome! i've made a quilt top using old shirts but not quite got around to finishing it. thanks for the inspiration!

  43. I loved this story. Glad it had such a happy ending too! My DH is asking for a scrappy log cabin quilt too and I have been putting it off. Maybe it is time to drag out the scrap bin and getr done! Thanks for the inspiration!!


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