Project: Don’t ever try and hand-quilt a t-shirt quilt

Also known as “Make an easier quilt”.

Project: Don't Hand Quilt a T-shirt Quilt | A Life Of Projects

Yeah. So I had this wonderful idea sometime last year. Like…last summer probably. Or maybe before. Quite frankly I’m too scared to check the timestamp on the photo because I think I started this project over a year ago. Maybe a year and a half.

But it was a really good idea. I swear.

I wanted to make a quilt.

But not just any quilt. I want a quilt that is hand quilted by myself, my grandmother, and my mom.

And sure, there are several quilts floating around that have each of our work in them. But nothing that is just the three of us. And quite frankly nothing that has a significant amount of work on my part in any of them. Lezbehonest…I was a kid and getting me to do anything actually helpful was almost impossible.

So…I’ve realized that a quilt with all of our work in it….is something I want. Something that would be very special and meaningful to me.

Quilting has been a large part of our family. I’ve seen quilts my great-grandmother hand pieced and hand quilted, quilts embroidered by my mom and aunts, and as a child I spent many hours playing underneath that huge living-room-sized quilt frame. My grandfather had my grandmother make a quilt especially for me to remember him by. So quilts hold a lot of meaning for me, but it’s not something I’ve ever had a very active part in assisting with.

So it’s time to step up, right??

And at the time…having only really quilted for random spurts in my teens….I thought HEY I CAN TOTALLY DO THIS WITHOUT THINKING IT THROUGH. And then I thought “I’m poor”. And then I thought “I have a t-shirt hoarding problem”.

And the t-shirt quilt project was born.

Let that sink in.

I decided. To hand-quilt. A t-shirt quilt. WITHOUT INSTRUCTIONS. (Or basting, or interfacing…)


So grandma and mom and I cut my beloved running shirts apart, picked fabrics, and without looking up how to sew jersey knit to rigid quilt cotton…pieced this sucker together.

Project: Don't Hand Quilt a T-shirt Quilt | A Life Of Projects

Look at that concentration…”I’m so totally ready to tackle this” I thought to myself…

And it’s sat in a corner in my house for longer than I care to admit.

However, I’ve found a solution. It’s a 2-part’er.

  • Part 1: Beg someone with a long-arm to just put some lines in this beast and call it done.
  • Part 2: Start new quilt that is smaller, well thought through, and not t-shirt.

Thankfully, I’ve found a friend who is just getting in to quilting on her mid-arm…and is willing to do it for a nice barter-style deal…and I’ve managed to piece together a new quilt top to a much smaller quilt.

However I’ve learned a lot from this….year long experience. I’ve learned that I really do want something made by all of us. I’ve learned a lot about quilting and I know it’s something I want to continue doing, in a way to keep the heritage going. I know that hand-quilting is a big challenge and I have so much respect for all the people I watched do it as I was growing up. I’ve learned that interfacing is super-important (haha). I’ve learned that some quilts are just too big for your first time out of the gate. And I’ve learned that it’s ok to change direction in a project and admit (somewhat) defeat.

I will hand quilt! I will have a quilt with my mom and grandma! And I will never, ever, ever try to hand quilt a t-shirt quilt again.

Project: Don't Hand Quilt a T-shirt Quilt | A Life Of Projects


Former Perfectionist Tip: If the going gets tough – Long arm it and start something less horrible.

A Life of Projects

What projects have you had to let go of or re-route? Have you made a t-shirt quilt? Have you hand-quilted a whole quilt? Share your stories down below!


Project Year-Long Sweater

*eye of the tiger music plays*

*Runs out of doorway, victoriously fist pumping, wearing an amazingly soft, intricately cabled, cream colored sweater*


I DID IT!!!!!!


And it only took me 361ish days!! (According to my ravelry page I started December 1, 2013…but usually a 1st of the month start date indicates I forgot when I actually started it…sooo….yeah.)

Let me back up and start at this sweater’s humble beginnings.

Technically, this journey probably began with Hannah Fettig and Alana Dakos publishing Coastal Knits. Most of you are probably aware of this book, but if you’re not then GET THEE TO CLICKING THE LINK!!! It’s probably one of my favorite pattern books of all-time. I have a rule about purchasing knitting books. I only drop cash if there are 3+ patterns in the book that I desperately want to knit. So my book collection is reasonable…and…I’ve never knit a single thing out of any of them until now. HA! Yeah…I’m special.

But Coastal Knits is amazing. I fell in love with every single pattern and bought the yarn for more than one. However I never cast anything on.

I desperately coveted the Rocky Coast sweater on the book’s cover…but immediately I said I wouldn’t ever knit that. I wasn’t a sweater knitter. I’d started a sweater…and eventually finished it 3 years later in 2013. So last year I decided I might be able to be a sweater knitter. I was flirting with the idea not that one, very basic, sweater was complete.

In October of 2013 I went on my yearly trek to the Montpelier Fiber Festival in Charlottesville VA. I went to sleep at my friend’s mom’s house the night before the festival….and had my first knitting-dream ever.

I dreamed I had knit the Rocky Coast and I had worn it in my engagement photos. (I was engaged and the photos were scheduled for a few weeks after the festival…so this dream was clearly not in the realm of knitting-reality) I woke up…and I had to knit that sweater. I bought the yarn from a festival booth that day. The most perfect cream colored worsted weight wool.

And…judging by my project page I cast on after my engagement photos….sometime in December. Now, you should know I’m a polygamous knitter. I’ve never…ever…(well since my first ever project) had less than 3 things on the needles. Right now it’s closing in on 20…*dies a little* So I started….

Progress as of December 1 2013

Progress as of December 1 2013

I dug this photo out (it’s weirdly yellow….bad lighting, sorry)…and maybe I did start on December 1st. Huh. So 361 days. Nice!

December 20, 2013

December 20, 2013

Then…it got sat down for awhile. And I got married…so that was a tiny distraction…


September 2014This is from roughly September of 2014. I got one and a half arms done by October 2014. Then…in the last week or so….I decided it MUST BE DONE BY THANKSGIVING. Night after night (Ok like 2 nights and one morning) I knit for hours. The arm maybe took 2 hours to finish, but the edging…Ohhhhh the ribbed edging. I even did knit-math. One repeat took me 22 minutes. I needed 20 repeats then a bind off row (which always takes exponentially longer than anything else ever and involves some kind of time-vortex, I’m sure.) So…yeah. That took time. And then my knitpicks had a slight malfunction

NO!!! DEAR GOD NO!!!!! WHY, GOD, WHY???!?!!!? My interchangeable needle CORD separated from the metal part!!! EVERYBODY KNIT-PANIC!!!!

Ugh. I switched to my other cord….and pressed on. To the bind-off-vortex.


And then of course….I have to wear it to lunch. (Please ignore the random fan and heater and dog beds in the background. We were in a smidge of a hurry)

So today, it’s blocking. My beautiful, finished, cabled, masterpiece of 361 days is DONE!!

Ahhhh. Life is good.

Former Perfectionist Tips on Rocky Coast:

  • If you have normal-human (Sorry Hannah, you’re a tiny, tiny person) arms, FIND THE ARM WIDENING INFO.
  • Learn to cable without cable needles. This is a great project to exercise that skill.
  • Write out the cable repeats on a post-it to tally your rows as you go.
  • Fall in love

What’s your longest project on the needles? Have you ever had knitting dreams?!?! Ever knit a dream-project? Anyone else in love with this pattern?? Because I’m about to make another!! Happy knitting!

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Project Fluffy: Part 1

I admit it. I was bored.

I got on pinterest. I’m Hashtag: Sorrynotsorry.

I searched for cute holiday outfits.

Found this. (On a link that doesn’t actually work so I went to google image)

So now I have to make a fluffy tulle skirt, right?!?! Because $80 for one on Etsy? Ummm. I love you and all, Ets, but…I’ve got a sewing machine. I got this. There has to be a tutorial, right? Of course.

*10 hour break of pinterest searching distraction*

So I found the following 2 tutorials that didn’t seem impossible at first glance. (That phrase “at first glance” will be key later…)

Ok, well one of those takes math. And…no. I mean I do stats for my real-time job…love some stats…but you want me to use pi? Radius? What? Ok fine, I’ll do it, just to make my 9th grade math teacher proud. (WHAT UP MR. L?!?! You’re still my favorite.)

So after some math, I determined I needed to cut folded pieces of tulle in to 52in sections….because you guys know I’d already gone to Jo-Ann’s for tulle and supplies BEFORE actually figuring out what I needed, right!?!? Right!! AND I went on a Sunday. AND it took way longer than it should have. And I came home with…more than just the materials for this project but more on that in later posts.

Ok. So we are home. With 10 yards of tulle. And some other project things…and a cat who thinks it’s all his

Ok so maybe I bought enough stuff for like 5 projects…whatevs.

Yeah. So now I do some math….had a friend write things down as I measured myself. Looked over the tutorials again to see which one would make me the least insane…and got down to cutting.

Here’s a little tip: In these tutorials, they make it seem so nice and easy, and maybe it is! For…people who sew more than 3 times a year or something. So here are the things they don’t tell you:

  • Tulle? That’s a wrinkly piece of work. It does NOT want to be nice, neat stacks/folds/sheets.
  • So then you google how to iron it without melting it all.
  • And you try that and give up in about 10 seconds because putting the iron on the lowest setting on top of a towel…results in basically a low setting heating pad. That’s not getting wrinkles out of anything. If it did, my abdomen would be TIGHT, y’all.
  • So, lesson learned: Tulle = Impossible to get flat. Just give up on that dream now. (UNLESS YOU KNOW THE SECRET, IN WHICH CASE, TELL ME NOW!!)
  • My arms aren’t long enough. I’m a short girl. I can’t hold the measuring tape at the center AND swivel it around.
  • Um…no one defines “Gather” the tulle. I’m still not sure I’m doing this part right…but that’s ok.
  • Gathering tulle to the size of your waist…THEN getting it over your hips…um…yeah ok. Anyone want to guess how many times I broke the thread?

Ok, so the stacks are all cut. Now…I need the world’s largest compass (Yo, Mr. L….do you have any compasses that can do 2 feet radi…radius…radusi? What’s the plural of radius??? Hashtag: Notanenglishormathmajor) which turned in to me trying for about 30 seconds to do it myself

Then I went to fetch the hubs and made him hold at the center while I crawled around with sharp objects.

Semi-circles. YES.

Weeelll….now this gathering thing. The tutorials didn’t really add instructions for that…so I tried it by hand. I’m honestly scared of putting this stuff in my sewing machine…and she didn’t say if she did it via machine or hand so let’s just sit, watch Sex & the City and make a Carrie-ish skirt.

Once that’s done I had to put these lovely circles in skirt-like layers. With the gathers. All together. And of COURSE none of them are gathered to the same size, and then some have threads that have broken trying to get them over my hips…so that’s nearly impossible. I used clothespins to try and stabilize it a bit but it still wasn’t perfect. Tulle is hateful. I had a friend tell me that she used to make tutu’s all the time and this was so easy. I’m going to have to punch her later…

No really…lining this up was insane.

Then the elastic band, easy enough as I’ve made skirts in the past. But wait…my elastic bands are usually INSIDE the skirt so it doesn’t matter how shoddily I stitch them together. I did mine like this

I just kind of sewed it, one layer on top of the other…then maybe fabric glued a little. But you’ll never tell, right!?!

Former Perfectionist Tip:

I wish I had sewn it more like 2 pieces of fabric, with a seam on the inside…but that may have proven itchy/annoying so I’m going with it.

For the lining I had some decent cotton from the garment section of the fabric store. I cut that to fit my waist, then angled it down to make a fuller skirt to match the tulle.  Then once I had sewn it in to a skirt-like object and hemmed it to a length that would hopefully hide under the tulle, I tried to figure out how she attached it to the elastic. Something about wrong-to-wrong then flipping then the tulle then more flipping and sewing?

Former Perfectionist Tip:

This portion involved a lot of curses and yelling “WHAT?!?” at the computer. Finally, I grabbed the lining, some pins, and a tissue (it was clean. I think). I pinned the lining on how I thought she was doing it, then pretended the tissue was the tulle, and after several bouts of flipping, pinning, cursing, and questioning I managed to figure out something close to how she had done it.

So at this point…I gave up. I’m not quite brave enough to sew the tulle yet (just because I’m a former perfectionist doesn’t mean I’m just throwing caution and my new sewing machine to the wind, ok people?) without reading up on it some. I’m going to practice on scraps…then do the real deal. Then I’m going to make a hand-dandy pinable of tips on tulle sewing for you guys!

So stay tuned!!

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