I probably should have posted before Christmas but oh well, too late.
DH was in a service fraternity (not 'Animal House' type, this was full of pre-meds and their crush events were service type things like painting fences and washing fire engines). Part of being in a fraternity (or any organization at our alma mater) is that you get a LOT of T-shirts. I think this used ~56 and he still had several left over (he was active for the three and a half years of undergrad* plus around a year as grad adviser).
So here’s more or less how it went
- WASH EVERYTHING BEFORE HAND. Shirts can pick up all sorts of weird smells when stored and you don't want your quilt to smell funky. Also, while handling them they can transfer that smell to your hands and it will bother you for far too long.
Do wash everything- backing too (not bias tape if you use premade, you'll have to repress it then).
- Pick out the shirts you want to include, decide what part you want to include (front, pocket, chest, back, etc)
- Cut them out with whatever seam allowance you are comfortable with, I used 1/2" since I was using a regular machine. I cut front from back from sleeves/neckband before anything else. You can snip and rip since it's knit but I wouldn't suggest it since accidents do happen.
- set a standard block (roughly the standard back design of a t-shirt, most design companies use the same size we found)
- pockets can be grouped into 4 to roughly match the size of a front or back design
- some fronts take roughly the space of 2 pockets in width
- some backs are 1.5 length of standard blocks (we ran into this when they listed all the chapters at a convention)
- Find a big enough space and lay them out
In the first two columns you can see the various size blocks, the standard blocks are along the top while the pocket .25 blocks are below the first block followed by the long 1.5 block. Next to the long block is one regular block and two .5 blocks
- Put fusible interfacing (not sure what I used but it was terrible) on the back of each to support them when hung. I recommend a knit interfacing but since you don't want it to stretch that much a woven interfacing that is reinforced with stitching may work.
- Sew either in blocks or in strips and slowly assemble. I used an universal needle but since it’s a knit, I would suggest a ball needle.
- Once the front is assembled determine the overall size and get batting and a back to match. I had to piece two long lengths of very heavy interlock knit to make a large enough back for this. Unless you are making a quilt 60" or less in width, or manage to find extraordinarily wide fabric, you will need to do this. I didn't have access to a machine that had an overlock stitch so I believe I just flat felled it (this knit shed for some reason). Cut backing slightly larger than the top, ditto for backing to allow for wiggle room. Keep in mind the intended recipient. When picking up the backing, the lady cutting mentioned that men tend to prefer light quilts for whatever reason.
- BASTE the layers together.
- I zig-zaged the edges and then stitched in the ditch around the standard blocks with a straight stitch. Since you are not really needing the stretch element of the fabric to be in working order the strength of the straight stitch is allowable.
I believe I used medium to low loft batting, the heavy weight knit outer sides make it incredibly warm.
- Apply bias tape to the edges (the backing and bias tape are in his fraternity’s colors)
DH’s quilt is roughly queen sized (we never needed it since we lived in Texas after the wedding and then our heater here is amazing- also we got a douvet as a wedding gift, that's much more grown up) and took me most of a Christmas Break (roughly 3 weeks) with working part time and visiting my hometown friends to finish it on my mom’s old Kenmore. On a newer machine with less tension problems, it would probably take less time.
* University pledging rules state that freshmen may only pledge their second semester- I don't even know if most orgs even bother with a fall pledge class. The only sorority (non-social, mind you) I was interested in had one class year but the process sort of spanned the whole year since the source organization was only really together in the fall but pledging process didn't happen until spring.