To tie or not to tie

comments (5) July 27th, 2008     

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lcampb Lilly Campbell, contributor
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Luckily, our ping-pong table is serving as a good place to layout the squares!

Luckily, our ping-pong table is serving as a good place to layout the squares!

I finally finished stitching up all of the squares for my t-shirt quilt which means that after I sew them together, it will be time to make some big decisions. First, I have to pick a pretty fabric for the back. Then, I have to decide on my batting and that choice will inevitably effect the ultimate decision: how to attach it all.
For those of you with no quilting background (and I was very recently among you), there are three basic options when it comes to putting all those layers together:
 1. Hand Quilting: The oldest and most revered quilting technique, hand quilters today value the artistry involved in hand-stitching quilt designs.
 2. Machine Quilting: The advanced technology of the newest sewing machines on the market means that machine quilting can create gorgeous, complex stitching patterns.
 3. Tying the Quilt: Arguably not really quilting at all, this technique makes use of knotted embroidery thread at intervals to keep the quilt sandwich together.

Now, I know it doesn’t sound glamorous but there are several reasons why I have decided that the tying method is the right one for me. Firstly, I am running low on time: I go back to school in exactly three weeks and I want my quilt to be finished to bring back with me. Secondly, I really want my quilt to have a comforter-feel to it and since my very feeble sewing machine is having enough trouble already, I am pretty sure that stitching through heavy batting would lead to its sad and sorry demise. Finally, I really like all of the designs on the t-shirts in this quilt, each one is original and I don’t want to disrupt them with lines of stitches.

I started off by finding some solid tips for tying a quilt online.  I recommend Quiltsmart’s "Tips for Completing Your Quilt" which comes with far better explanations of the three techniques than I had to offer.

My biggest disappointment was the lack of ideas I found for fun ways to tie a quilt - I feel like it is a little sad to finish off the piece so simply.  I did find the suggestion to sew on buttons at intervals instead of ties, but since I spend a lot of time lying on my bed reading (I'm an English major who can't read at a desk, so you get the idea...) I thought these might irritate more than they decorate. I think I have settled on the prospect of repeating a basic embroidery design, like a simple star-shaped stitch at intervals rather than just a knot, but I definitely have some experimenting to do.

I would be beyond thrilled to hear your suggestions or advice on quilt-tying!  Anyone out there with experience to share?

posted in: quilt, tie, bed

Comments (5)

pamortrud writes: I have made several t-shirt quilts and I prefer to tie them. I also find putting fleece on the back without batting is a good way to go because they are heavy enough to lay the way you want them and not so heavy they can't be washed easily.
Your quilt looks great! Enjoy!
Posted: 5:39 pm on June 9th
JaydedCammie writes: I think tying is perfect when it comes to a t shirt quilt. They're quirky, a quilt sure, but they don't look like a normal quilt.

For backing, I would go with a fleece of a flannel of whatever nature you want and hand stitch the edges in a blanket stitch for detailing once it was done. Cool think about that being it could be done after you already completed it as mini project at school.
Posted: 12:29 pm on July 31st
lcampb writes: I did interface all of the t-shirts before sewing them to cut back on stretching but I think you're still right that stretch could be a concern. I love the idea of using fleece too, I think I'll be making a trip to fabric store tonight to check out my options.
Posted: 11:04 am on July 28th
IggyJingles writes: Oh, I forgot to say - I have had some good results from using thick fleece as the backing/batting combined (so maybe not a true quilt either) to result in a really soft blanket. Lots of basting required but worth the trouble in increasing the cosy factor.
Posted: 11:08 pm on July 27th
IggyJingles writes: Your quilt looks really bright and comfortable. In my limited experience with quilts, it has been best to baste using large stitches radiating out from the center to prevent movement and stretching in the quilting process. I believe some people use large safety pins for that purpose. If it were me, I would probably want to stitch down very simply around the squares, either by hand or machine. I would do that in order to reduce uneven stretching over time from using the t-shirt knits. That may not be a concern for you with the other fabrics if they are wovens.

I would be worried that the fabric would want to stretch and pucker around the ties over time. Perhaps my worry is unfounded, and would be mitigated by using many ties rather than just each main corner. Even so, nothing prevents you from going back and sewing later if the the tying doesn't work out for you for some reason.

How lovely to be able to come home to such a wonderful, comfy thing each day. I bet you will be the envy of all your friends, and get asked to make some for their rooms too.
Posted: 11:05 pm on July 27th
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