So upcycling project number one is underway—the race shirt quilt. I selected sixteen race shirts to give their lives to become a quilt. Strangely enough, these are actually shirts that I wear with some frequency, as opposed to the vast majority of the other shirts in this project, because they were my shirts of choice for working out in the gym. That is not because I was particularly fond of them, however; quite the contrary, it was because I wasn’t especially worried about keeping them nice. Nonetheless, I have decided to switch to ultimate shirts for workouts and use these as quilting material. Part of the reasoning is that I have a lot of them and see no likelihood that I will not continue to acquire them, and enough that I could compose a quilt of them while maintaining one encompassing quilt-wide theme, as I am a sucker for themes. Sixteen race shirts also makes for a nice, symmetrical, perfect-square 4 by 4 layout, and I am also a sucker for symmetry and regularity.
Sixteen race shirts.
So having selected my sixteen shirts, I measured them to get a good idea of how much usable space I could harvest from each, and settled on a sixteen-inch square, front and back. Sixteen inches based on that it was roughly the maximum space between the sleeves on the smallest shirts and that it would enclose the design of both front and back on all of them. Square based on see the above about liking symmetry, etc.
The next order of business was to make a template so that I could accurately replicate the sizing of the cutout on each shirt. Template-making is a hallmark of my project work. So I measured and cut a 16” x 16” square from my favorite template material, that being whatever cereal boxes are currently in the recycle bin. I also made a space with center points on each side so that when using it I could have a gauge on properly centering the design in the square.
Template cereal box view.
I then proceeded to iron all sixteen shirts (inside-out so the heat of the iron would not mar the printing) and then lay them flat, center the template, and cut out the square with a rotary cutter. Because the square on the front as a rule will not line up with the square on the back, one must put something in between to prevent cutting through, and do each side separately. The only tricky part of this was that I don’t have a cutting surface that is 16 x 16, so I had to either move it halfway through, which was a pain, or after I got sick enough of it to justify trying to find a solution, using more cereal box for the other half, which was still less than perfect but serviceable enough to get the job done. Thus I had two identically-sized squares (more or less) from a shirt, and a leftover neck-sleeves-shirttail with giant hole through it.
Template on shirt.
An individual cut-out square.
Once all these squares were separated from their previous shirt-bodies, I laid them out in rows as I intended them to end up in the quilt. The plan is for the fronts to be all on one side, and the backs on the opposite side, such that each shirt’s front square corresponds directly to the back square of the same shirt when viewed from the other side.
Pile of cut squares.
Squares laid out.
At that point it just becomes a matter of pinning and sewing. Four squares to a row, four rows per side, two sides. As of this writing I’ve completed I think six of the eight rows. Further updates as events warrant.
Pinned for sewing.
Some rows completed.