Jan 06, 2017 02:46PM ● Published by Ashley Pape
Jennifer Baker, a retired special education teacher at Carroll Senior High, has long had a knack with a needle and thread; she’s been sewing for 45 years. Now, she’s sharing her creative skills with the community through her custom T-shirt quilts—school spirit items you can display, give as gifts and most definitely snuggle. To anyone with stacks of old Dragon T-shirts you don’t dare part with, imagine them repurposed into a one-of-a-kind keepsake quilt.
Why do you enjoy making T-shirt quilts?
I like having an idea of what I want to make and then seeing it come together, bit by bit. This project is especially fun because I am creating something special and meaningful. Hopefully [each quilt] will be treasured for many years.
Tell us a little about the creative process.
I begin by cutting the squares and working on a layout. I pin and sew each row of squares together, then sew the rows together. After ironing the seams out, I carefully lay the whole thing on top of the fabric that serves as the back of the quilt and pin it. I cut, sew and iron the binding that goes around the outside. The last step is to use embroidery floss to tack and knot each corner of the squares to hold all the layers together in the middle of the quilt. Then it’s ready to be reunited with the owner!
How many T-shirts are needed? And how long does it take to create a quilt?
Thirty shirts make a five-by-six-foot size. Twenty shirts make a four-by-five-foot size. Both are good sizes for a couch. It takes about 18 to 20 hours for a quilt made from 30 shirts.
What’s the most challenging part of the process?
The trickiest part is making sure the squares meet exactly at each corner. It requires lots of pins. Finishing the binding by hand is challenging because it takes so long and I get eager to return it to the owner.
Have you made a quilt that was especially meaningful?
My first quilt, for myself, which is made from some of my shirts from my 18 years at Carroll. I loved working at the senior high. All these shirts hold a special meaning and bring back wonderful memories.
Why do people most often order your quilts?
I have many people who want them for Christmas or graduation presents. Mostly they are using school and/or sports shirts, college shirts and shirts from traveling. One person is planning to make a quilt for her dad’s birthday out of shirts from his business.
Your post lit up the Southlake Moms’ Facebook page last year. How did it feel to see such a huge interest from the community?
It was crazy! I posted it on my personal Facebook page first and got a lot of encouragement to make the quilts for others. When I posted on the Southlake Moms’ page, I was surprised that it got so big, but excited and flattered with the response.
How do you handle the overwhelming response?
I am thankful and appreciative for everyone’s positive comments and interest! I take a lot of pride in doing the job right. I enjoy seeing my work done well and do not like rushing a job or taking shortcuts. This is a hobby of mine that I very much enjoy, but because it is something I want to keep part-time, the number of quilts I can do is limited.
Want your own Dragon T-shirt quilt? Contact Jennifer at email@example.com for details and pricing.