Shirt vortex

I love the scrap-busting methods of Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts and wanted to join in her scrap vortex quilt-along, but I do not have a very big scrap box. My scrap box is only the size of a large shoebox. However, I did have a mountain of fabric left from my two shirt quilts, so I decided to do some random piecing and make something with that.

Shirt fabric scraps

I still had all these scraps left over from making two shirt quilts.

I made quite a few scrappy panels using Amanda Jean’s methods, but in the end I chose to use only a handful of them to make cushions and pouches. I also fell off the random improv wagon when I found I had some largish strips that would work well in a log cabin block, so they became one less-than-random cushion front.

Pouches and cushions made from men’s shirts

I love the crazy improv of the front of this cushion.

In addition to using my shirt scraps, I cut into two ‘new’ old shirts from my dad. They came in handy when making the cushions because the shirt fronts were large enough to turn into cushion backs. I kept the buttons and pockets. Both shirts had short sleeves, but there was enough fabric in the sleeves to line the pouches.

Pouches and cushions made from men’s shirts

I used shirt fronts, complete with buttons and pockets, to make the cushion backs. One shirt back was cut into bias strips to make the piping.

Pouches made from men’s shirts

For the linings, I used shirt sleeves.

These were the ultimate stash-busting projects. The only things I bought were the two zippers and a length of piping cord. I found scraps of quilt wadding and zigzagged them together to make pieces big enough. (It is a sad day when you realise you have to join pieces of wadding to make a small 9 by 12 inch piece!) Even the cushion inserts are those I made from repurposing a feather doona. With the inserts now in covers, I appreciate the lovely weight and fluffiness of the feathers even more. These inserts are far better than store bought.

Cushions made from men’s shirts

Almost everything in these cushions is recycled.

I have had problems with quilting in straight lines and suspected the main cause of my problems was foot pressure, so I tried an experiment. When quilting the pouches, I did not ease up the foot pressure. When quilting the cushion fronts, I dropped the foot pressure considerably. The difference is noticeable. Do you have any other tips to improve my quilting in straight lines?

Foot pressure and straight line quilting

For the cushion (left), I eased the foot pressure and had far less distortion of the stripes from the quilting lines than I did when sewing the pouch (right).

Would you believe that I still have a bag full of shirt scraps? Instead of putting the bag of leftovers back into the Cupboard of Shame, I am posting what is left to Kate, who also has plans for a recycled shirt project. After two quilts, two cushions and two pouches, it is time for me to let go of the shirts and let someone else have some fun with them.

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42 thoughts on “Shirt vortex

  1. Great use of the shirt fronts! A really cute back for the pillow. Are you giving them to your dad? I like the way Amanda Jean uses scraps too. Wish I had more time to sew with mine : )

  2. Hi! Your pillows and puches became really beautiful! I have used shirts for quilts and bag lining but never thought how fantastic they would look like this! I need to make log cabin pillow for the quilts we have and surely some pouches! Thank you for inspiration! x Teje

    • I generally like the paleness too, but I also like the darker colours of the almost navy blue and the chambray as they add interest and contrast. It would not be as fun if it were all pale, don’t you think?

  3. He would have been proud of your economical ways… I’m looking forward to getting my scraps, which will get added to the ever mounting pile of shirts confiscated from the Husband for being too threadbare/stained/small/horrible. I do love your use of the buttoned front for the cushion opening, by the way, but you’re on your own with piping. Life – for me at any rate – is to short to pipe cushions.

    • Dad loved and used the shirt quilt I made him, and he would have been happy with anything that got rid of shirts he had to iron. He rarely wore proper button-up shirts and preferred T-shirts for that reason.

      Your parcel is already in the mail. I hope there is something in there you can use.

      • I will use it all. My own aged parent has never worn a T-shirt in his life, despite spending more than 25 years in Spain. He’s a ‘proper collar’ man, but wears the shirts till they disintegrate and are no longer of use to me. So I’m honoured to share your fabric legacy!

  4. Love the cushions and pouch. And many thanks Carla for the tip about the presser foot and the straight line quilting. I’ve noticed the drag effect on mine recently and it does make sense so I will definitely give that a try on my next straight line quilt project.

  5. Those are awesome pillows!!!! And to get everything basically from scraps is great. I am doing 4 shirt quilts and they are killing me. I’ve decided the leftovers will be stuffed into a pillow or two.

    • These cushions now match the original shirt quilt I made for Dad (now back with me), so I see the potential of matching leftover cushions. I can imagine your four quilts would be a mammoth task all at once. Are you tackling them one at a time or en masse?

  6. They’re lovely Carla, and I admire you trying random piecing. I know it’s not easy for people like you and me who prefer accurate measurements and nice straight lines. I found doing the border on Sharon’s quilt quite difficult, but Alice found it easy to join up a bunch of scraps in a random manner. Well done.

  7. Great use of materials at hand. I love the free form structure of the pillows and the sewn lines of the pouches. Wish I had my dad’s shirts to use.

  8. Amazing how shirt scraps can turn into,such loveliness. I bet they’re soft to lay one’s head upon. Well done!

    • I didn’t really have anywhere in the house in mind to put them when I made them, but they seem to have found a home in the blue spare bedroom. At least they will be used by visitors there. It is better than a cupboard!

  9. Pingback: The cupboard of shame | Granny Maud's Girl

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