Monday, February 27, 2012

T-shirt Blanket Tutorial: Finishing Stage.

Almost done! Once that flimsy collection of t-shirts is sewn together (jump back to part 1 and part 2 if you missed it), I know I'm itching to sew on the backing. It's almost done and so close I can taste it.

So to start, get your backing. There's two ways to do this, and multiple variations off of that. The first is to get the correct amount from a cut-off-the-bolt sort of deal, i.e. JoAnn's or another fabric seller. Sometimes, as in the case with my sister's blanket, there's was no such length and width of cut-by-the-yard that could cover that thing. And it was bigger than a king-size blanket, so my second option below wasn't an option. Womp womp. In this case, the back was multiple pieces of fleece and blanket-soft fabric to make the whole. Or, in the case of the Pittsburgh blanket, I made a checkerboard of two different fabrics for some variety (and because the yellow would've been too bright for one plane, in my opinion). The second option is to get a standard-size blanket on the cheap. You can score a twin-sized blanket for $15 if you're looking real hard, and sometimes that's cheaper than the cut-by-the-yard.

I usually take the t-shirts with me to JoAnn's for perfect color-matching and complimenting and to be sure that I get enough. Inevitably, if I measure myself, I'll inverse the numbers or otherwise botch it up and end up with too-short of fabric.

With this blanket, my mum helped me out and took it to JoAnn's for some fabric shopping. She sent out some pictures and while I voted for a gray, she used her veto power, joined with three other ladies at the store, and brought home a super soft Carolina blue. And I'm okay with the veto - the fabric didn't photograph well and it's sooooooooo soft.

The plan with this blanket was to sew it inside out, leaving a small hole, then flipping it right-side out and doing a hidden stitch to close the hole. I laid out the blue backing and spread out the t-shirt on top, with the logos facing the super soft blanket. Then I sewed a straight-stitch around the perimeter.

All of these are crappy pictures, but I feel it demonstrates the point. The t-shirt is logo-down, the blanket is soft-side up, and I'm sewing along the edge, leaving about 1/4 inch of space between the edge and the seam.

I sewed around 90% of the blanket this way, leaving the hole to pop the blanket back right-side out. Once I was there, I smoothed out the blanket and pinned around the t-shirt seams.

I flipped up that corner so you could see another picture of the backing. Don't you just want to rub your face on it?! It's that soft. Moving on. Using a zig-zag stitch and a Carolina blue thread, I traced the t-shirt seams.

It's much more apparent in person, in the nice framing way, but it was super hard to photograph.

I do this tracing thing for a few reasons -

1. I helps to cover up less-than-perfect corners.

2. It frames each shirt for a little extra pizzazz. I really though pizzazz was a dictionary-defined word, too.

3. It's a little extra help to keep the t-shirts together. By the time many of these shirts go to their t-shirt blanket stage, they're thread-bare and flimsy. After repeated use, it's easy for the seams between shirts to pop. I learned this from my friend's repeated use of his blanket as a comforter - some shirts popped at the seams from their everyday use.

4. It helps the quilt the blanket for a more finished look and feel.

5. It keeps the front and the back of the blanket together. It prevents that whole twisted elastic in your gym shorts thing and feel.

When I started that list, I really didn't think I'd have that many reasons. I love it more than I knew.

Lastly, I did a hidden stitch on the hole and seal-clapped. Donezo!

But you may be wondering (and you may not be wondering) about a different variation on this, namely the blanket-binding that I did on my sister's and my blanket. For this, I skipped the flip-the-blanket-inside-out routine. I first sewed around the perimeter, very close to the edge, with the logos facing out and the soft-side of the blanket facing out on the back, just to be super clear. Then I bought a couple packs of the blanket-binding from JoAnn's. I don't think that's what it's properly called, but it's by the zippers and reminiscent of our baby blankets, which is why my sisters and I wanted it. We folded the binding over the edge of the blanket, covering the straight seam around, and used a zig-zag stitch to sew it on. The binding comes in a fold, so it didn't require ironing or anything to wrestle it flat, which is nice.

And you're done! Enjoy snuggling up in your memories :)

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