Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Steve's Memories

Several years ago I ran into a guy that worked in another office that collected t-shirts and we talked about the prospect of getting a quilt or 2 made from them, I gave him my card. I figured this would turn out much like the numerous encounters and cards that had been distributed at quilt shows and craft events and go nowhere. 
Image result for handmade goods pricing
I have come to accept the reality that most people like the idea of a t-shirt or handmade quilt but very few people are willing to pay what it costs to simply have one made (let alone if you add in labor amount). 

Fast forward to August of this year when I changed offices and one day a guy that had been out on medical leave comes to me and asks if I'm the lady he talked to about the t-shirt quilts -- Let's be honest, I have a horrible memory for faces and names so at first I had no idea what he was talking about. So as my memory is jogged about this encounter I remember some of the specifics we talked about and jokingly ask if he still had my card. Turns out that he did and he had been talking to his wife about contacting me in preparation for his upcoming retirement. (A 5 month deadline -- I should back away now) 

We seam out some plans and it's agreed that I will take on one quilt at this time with the possibility of making a few others after the first one (my brain is screaming RUN NOW!) and he brings me a bag of shirts for the first one. 
I always forget how draining for me these quilts seem to become -- it fogs up my creative juices for other projects and screams from across the room at me until it is finished, like a toddler in time out. 
Image result for toddler
After several times of delay, I got the top finally assembled and knew it was going out to be long armed. I refused to try and quilt this behemoth on my machine and risk personal injury like the last queen size quilt that tried to take out my hand. I made the arrangements and sent it to local to decrease chances for loss in the postal system. 
When I finally got it back the long armer, I was thrilled to be able to put the binding on and send it home. I knew it would make the coworker happy to have it back and I could start to focus on other things in my sewing room. 
After a happy delivery, the quilt gets brought back because some patching on one of the shirts has come loose and needs repair (this was upsetting for both of us) and in the end if was fixed and returned. 

Every time I take on a t-shirt quilt I get wrapped up in the excitement that others have about the project and forget that this is not the work I enjoy. After quilting costs (-half) and materials (-25%) the take home amount (25%) does not cover the time or effort (over 15 hours) and other projects have been delayed or rushed.  

Worst off for me is, if I know the person our relationship often is changed by this process as well simply by the pressure involved. I have another baby clothes quilt I am working on right now and it seems different than this one for me -- less stressful. 

I am wondering, if he decides to move forward with more quilts do I need to pass this project off to someone else? 

This is my 1st finish this quarter and hopefully not my only finish. 


  1. We do a lot of T-shirt quilts (and ties). We have a book with layouts, pricing, photos of finished quilts, and several fabric shop catalogs so they can see just how much fabric is. Our long armer (will only do simple pantos for these) has a print out with designs and pricing per size. It is all there . We do not use our own fabrics - it is all bought new at the best prices and only at local shops. Contracts - can draw up plans on the computer with EQ so they have a visual. We have no problem with fees (those who go into sticker shock leave) and actually have a large client list. When you do commission work, it does have to come first.

  2. First thing, I love the end result of the quilt! Second, I know what you mean, sometimes the making of one just feels like a cloud of doom over your head... I am starting some memory pillows right now but I am not doing anything more after this

  3. always stressful when sewing for somebody who is a non sewer with differing expectations, but a great finish I am sure he will love

  4. Even though you don't enjoy doing them it did turn out really nice.