T-shirt Quilt DIY

I love graphic tees! I had a stack of them that had worn out, had stains, or weren’t very comfortable that I couldn’t bear to part with because, nostalgia! I kept telling myself that I’d make a t-shirt quilt with them. I’ve been saving t-shirts for this quilt for over 15 years. Still no quilt.

Here’s the thing: to do it the “right” way, you need to use woven fusible interfacing to stabilize the t-shirt material, then sew them together with sashing or boarders of some kind, and then you quilt and bind it like a regular quilt. During the Great Sewing Room Clean-Up of 2019, I came across all of those t-shirts and was reminded that I should really make that quilt someday. Then I came across a couple of t-shirt material twin sheets I’d been saving for an undetermined project, and started thinking…

What if I just cut the t-shirts into squares, sewed them together with no interfacing or sashing, skipped the batting, and just used the t-shirt sheets for the backing. It would break all of the “rules” for t-shirt quilts, but they would be nice summer blankets for the living room. I decided that in this case, done was better than perfect.

I grabbed my 12 1/2″ quilting square, centered the t-shirt design, and cut around them with my rotary cutter. I had 40 squares, so I made two t-shirt quilts. One of them, I just grabbed whatever square was next and sewed it onto the row then sewed the rows together without paying much attention to placement. The second one, I laid out the squares and then sewed them together in a particular order. Honestly, I like the way both turned out, so pick which method you like better.

I find that sewing knit material with the even-feed foot on my machine keeps the stretching to a minimum, but you can skip it if you don’t have one or don’t like using it with knits. I did one quilt with a 1/4″ seam allowance and one with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Either one works, just be sure that you keep your seam allowance consistent through the whole quilt. Don’t switch halfway through or it will make things turn out wonky.

After sewing the blocks in a 4 by 5 square layout, I spread the t-shirt sheet on the table with the right side up. Then I layered the quilt on top of it with the right side down. Make sure the right sides of the quilt and backing are touching each other. Pin well along the edge and then sew along the outside using your preferred seam allowance. Leave about an 8″ opening so you can turn the whole thing right side out.

Once you’ve sewed the edges, and turned the quilt right side out, pin the opening closed and top-stitch around the whole quilt. I prefer top-stitching about 1/4″ from the edge, but use what you like best. If you don’t catch the edges of the opening in the top-stitching, you’ll need to hand-sew that closed.

Next, you’ll be sewing “in the ditch” or on the line where the squares meet. This will sort of hold the blanket together while you’re using it. You can do this without pinning the two layers together first. However, I still had some shifting of the backing when I tried this without pinning. It’s not bad, but the quilt where I used safety pins along the edges of the blocks definitely worked better.

And you’re done! This is one of those projects you can easily do in a weekend or just a few evenings. You could make a bigger quilt or smaller one, but I found this size to be perfect for curling up under while watching a movie. Camo was happy to test out this one hot off the sewing machine! I’d just packed up a couple of our winter quilts, so the timing on these was perfect. Nothing says “warm weather” like t-shirts, or a quilt made of them, right?

If you end up making a t-shirt quilt of your own, head over to the Teish Knits Facebook page and share a photo. I’d love to see other examples!

Thoughts for Tuesday, May 21st

Outside my windows… the weather today can’t decide whether it’s going to be rainy or sunny.

Inside my house… I can smell the cookies that Munchkin baked this afternoon.

Counting 1000 gifts… thankful for cookies that someone else baked while I worked!

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… going a bit stir-crazy with all of the rain! These kids want to be outside, but the weather isn’t cooperating.

From my playlist… 50s music. There are some unusual hits from that decade.

From my reading list… Grace, Grit, Guts by Tracy O’Malley

From my needlework basket… either sewing in ends on the shawl I finished knitting, or working on a sweater. Depends on which I feel more like working on at the time.

In the learning room… the three younger kiddos have wrapped up their Math curriculum for the year, and all three of the older ones have wrapped up Language Arts. We’ll be working on things through July, but it’s nice to have a lighter schedule for summer.

Random ramblings… “When life’s flight is over, and we unload our cargo at the other end, the fellow who got rid of unnecessary weight will have the most valuable cargo to present the Lord.” — Nate Saint

Profound ponderings… I found a new podcast! It’s perfect for readers or writers of speculative fiction. I’m enjoying the author chats, and learning a lot from listening. Tune in: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-christian-speculative-fiction-podcast/id1463468309

Caught on film…

Sun Tea Season Is Back!

Note: As I’m a Plum Deluxe Ambassador, the links in this article are affiliate links. I’ve found their teas to be some of the best blends I’ve tried over the years, and would not suggest them to my readers if I didn’t drink Plum Deluxe teas myself!

One of my fond childhood memories is of the gallon jar of sun tea that was a constant fixture on my great-grandmother’s porch during the warm months. If you visited Grammy Lila in the summer, sitting around her kitchen table sipping sun tea was a given. (And if you were one of the grandkids, she’d bring down the candy jar that she kept stocked with everyone’s favorites!)

I have one of the big glass jars that used to be Grammy’s, and I use it to brew my own sun tea as soon as it warms up enough so that the tea will brew and not freeze on my front steps.

Grammy Lila used regular old Lipton black tea for her sun tea, and that works just fine. I started out using that for my own sun tea, but soon branched out to green tea. Green tea has a little less caffeine and I’m particularly fond of green teas that are fruit flavored. Blueberry, peach, and pomegranate are favorites, but we’ve tried a number of varieties of Lipton and Bigelow green teas and they’ve all been good. You can use any kind of tea you like though. I brew a batch of Earl Grey now and then, and I’ve tried a lot of herbal teas that were delicious iced. I tried out the newest club blend from Plum Deluxe and it was delicious iced! I’ll definitely be trying some more of their blends in my sun tea brewing this summer.

You’ll need a big glass jar or pitcher. I suggest combing the yard sales or your grandmother’s basement to see if you can find one of these heavy gallon jars, but anything glass with a secure cover will do. The important thing is to brew it in glass, and not plastic. (Brewing in plastic can leach stuff from the heated plastic into your tea and affect the taste. Yuck!) Fill the jar or pitcher with cold water, and then add tea bags or loose tea. I use about 10 of the green tea bags or 4 heaping tablespoons of loose tea for one gallon of water, but you may need to play around with the amount of tea to get the right proportions for the tea you’re using. Put the lid on the jar and set it in the sun in the morning. I leave it on my steps until late afternoon, or bedtime if I forget about it! Remove the tea bags and chill in the fridge. I transfer my tea to a pitcher for easier pouring, and so I can have another batch ready before we run out.

If you like to sweeten your tea, I suggest using honey or a simple syrup as they will mix in better than just granulated sugar. I switched to drinking my iced tea unsweetened several years back, and I honestly don’t miss the sugar, particularly when I brew a tea that includes fruit.

I read an article a couple of years back about concerns over whether sun tea is safe to store in the fridge and drink later. The suggestion in the article was that it may be safer to brew traditionally with boiling water to minimize any contaminants that could make you sick, and to drink the iced tea immediately, and not store leftovers for later. We typically drink a batch within a few days, and it always seems to keep in the fridge OK. I do make sure the jar is thoroughly cleaned between brewing batches as well. However, brew and drink at your own risk. I figure that we grew up drinking the sun tea Grammy Lila kept in her fridge and survived, so I’m not going to stress over it.

Are you an iced tea fan? What kind do you like brewing best in the summer?

If you’re interested in trying Plum Deluxe teas for your summer iced tea brewing, they’ve offered a coupon code for 10% off tea purchases for my readers! Just use this code in the VIP Code field when placing your order: teishknitsreaders

Thoughts for Tuesday, May 14th

Outside my windows… the promised nor’easter has amounted to only rain at our house. I’m hoping it stays that way because snow in May is always a little depressing. (This is also why we don’t plant anything outside before Memorial Day!)

Inside my house… Espresso Brownies just came out of the oven. It’s a recipe from Mary DeMuth’s Irresistible Table cookbook. This recipe alone is worth buying the cookbook for!

Counting 1000 gifts… I’m thankful that despite the rain and cold, we have a stove and coal to keep our house warm.

Prayers of the heart… about exciting things on the horizon, and for wisdom when deciding where to go next.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… playing a rousing round of Cheaters Monopoly. Normally, we don’t allow cheating when playing a game, but this one is really funny! It’s hilarious when everyone is trying to be sneaky while keeping an eye on everyone else. Watch out for the quiet ones though, they sometimes take you by surprise and get away with more than anyone else!

From my playlist… Main Theme from “The Right Stuff” by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

From my reading list… I’m going back through Tamara Leigh’s Age of Faith series. I’ve read the books before, but every now and then I go back and read through them again because they are an enjoyable and relaxing read.

From my needlework basket… when I feel like quilting, I have another quilt that I decided to hand quilt in a moment of insanity. If I prefer to knit, I’ve got a lovely summer shawl knit out of cotton that’s getting close to being done.

In the learning room… the end of this week will see kids finishing their math and language arts curriculum for the year. We’ll be working on other subjects through July, and doing a few things to practice math and language arts skills. It’s nice to know that we have a somewhat lighter study load for the summer months though.

Random ramblings… writing an author bio is harder than writing actual articles, blog posts, or stories. I don’t know why, but this is absolutely true. My IT Staff agrees that photographer bios are harder to write than the most technical articles relating to advanced photography. Bios are hard!

Profound ponderings… “I have loved the stars to fondly to be fearful of the night.” — Line from “The Old Astronomer”

Caught on film…

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Desk rocket ship courtesy of Camo! #workspace #teishknits

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Rag Basket

I recall Mom joking that by your 15th anniversary, you needed another wedding shower because all of the towels from your wedding had worn out. I recently picked up some new towels and washcloths at Walmart because ours were rather threadbare in spots. When I went through and removed all of the hole-y and badly stained towels to make room for the new ones, I pondered what to do with the old ones. Sure, they had some holes and were wearing thin in places, but it seemed a waste to simply throw them away.

I think almost everyone’s grandmother had a stash of rags for cleaning, and it occurred to me that my old towels would be perfect for that. I’ve been thinking about options that would help us cut back on the number of paper towels we use for a while. A rag basket under the sink is the perfect solution.

I considered cutting up the bath towels into smaller pieces since they are a little too big for cleaning tasks. In the end, I decided to leave them whole for now. With four kids and a very large German Shepherd in the house, there are some pretty big spills at times. Old bath towels are a much better option than half a roll of paper towels when it comes to soaking up a sizable spill on the kitchen floor. Since my collection included some hand towels and washcloths, I’ve got a pretty good selection of sizes to use for any task.

I grabbed an empty basket, rolled up the towels and stashed them under the kitchen sink. Now when I need a cloth for cleaning, or something to soak up a spilled glass of water, I can walk past the paper towels and right to my rag basket. Since they are old towels that are already partially worn out, I won’t bad if we use it to clean up something that ruins the towel.

A rag basket may be an old-fashioned idea, but it’s definitely one that’s stuck around this long for a reason! What’s one of your favorite “life hacks” from grandma’s day?

Thoughts for Tuesday, May 7th

Outside my windows… the sunny skies from yesterday have clouded over, and there may be rain on the horizon. The orange lilies that are beginning to sprout would appreciate the rain though.

Inside my house… Some things are sprouting, and others are not. There’s one thing about my gardening methods that I’m absolutely sure of: I have no idea what I’m doing.

Counting 1000 gifts… thankful for spring, and for the hard stuff.

Prayers of the heart… for wisdom navigating new seasons. I’m praying for wisdom a lot lately.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… Lunch Break + LEGOs + Tub of Water = I’m staying at my desk till the mess has been cleaned up!

From my playlist… “Wolf Totem” by The Hu. I’m fascinated by interesting style of the music, and now I want to study more about Mongolian culture and their forms of art.

From my reading list… I finished Tamara Leigh’s newest addition to the Age of Conquest series: Fearless. I’m glad that she’s exploring some of the roots of the family we met in her Age of Faith series, and it’s sparked an interest in that particular period of history as well.

From my needlework basket… a summer shawl from the current issue of Knit Simple. It’s the one featured on the cover for anyone who’s curious. I’ll have to post a photo once I get it finished and blocked.

In the learning room… I finally nailed down my curriculum list for the 2019-2020 year. I think… High school elective options are seemingly endless, and a plethora of choices is a double-edged sword!

Random ramblings… Listening to the Free to Focus audiobook has been thought-provoking. It’s one of those books that you need to take a chapter at a time. In thinking about what priorities I should focus on, I started thinking long-term. Right not, home educating is a big priority that does take a fair bit of my time. Ten years from now, I’ll be finished with that chapter of my life. Maybe things that I’ll be doing past this current season need a little bit of my focus too.

Profound ponderings…

“Then I made a path. And I succeeded.

And I’m here to tell other visionary authors that yes, you can follow your heart and take your brain with you. You can write that book, finish it, publish it, and reach your readers without burnout, and without marketing taking over your whole life.

Your book does have a valued place in your life and in the world. Don’t give up. Own those unique words.”

— Janeen Ippolito

Caught on film…

Weekend Teatime: My Favorite Tea Subscription

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. I’ve been a Plum Deluxe subscriber for a year, and it’s truly the best tea subscription I’ve tried. As always, I do not share affiliate links for any product that I don’t use and love myself.

The ever-present tea on my desk!

Anyone who follows my Instagram account knows that I love tea. My collection of tea cups inherited from various relatives gets plenty of use! It’s not unusual to find a pot of tea sitting on my desk next to me while I’m working.

I tried out a couple of tea subscription boxes, but didn’t find one that I particularly liked. I’d pretty much decided that I wouldn’t bother trying another when I came across an ad for Plum Deluxe. Ten dollars a month was the most reasonable tea subscription I’d seen, and it appealed to me that the teas were fair trade, and all blended in Oregon by people who loved tea as much as I do. I decided to give a tea subscription one more try, and I am so glad that I did!

May’s club blend is turned around so as not to spoil the surprise! This shipment included a couple extra bags that were ordered separately.

Each month, I receive an exclusive club blend in the mail. The shipment arrives in a distinctive purple package, and includes both a sample of another Plum Deluxe tea and a card with an inspirational quote on one side, and information about this month’s blend on the other. Subscriptions are available in caffeine and non-caffeine options. If you have an allergy to a particular ingredient, or if there’s a particular tea ingredient that you dislike, you can simply e-mail the folks at Plum Deluxe, and they’ll substitute something different if a month’s club blend includes that ingredient.

Honestly, their customer service is fantastic. One monthly blend I received included black pepper. It was delicious, but I discovered that my stomach couldn’t tolerate black pepper in my tea. I e-mailed the company, and they’ve made a note so that if any future club blends contain black pepper, they’ll substitute a different tea in my shipment that month. I love the personal touch, and it absolutely sets Plum Deluxe apart from the other subscriptions I tried out.

Scones paired with the May club blend.

Plum Deluxe isn’t only a tea subscription company though. Anyone can shop their regular selection of teas via the website. Sweet Spot Black Tea and Chocolate Hazelnut Dessert Tea are two of my absolute favorites. Another nice club perk is the option to receive free shipping on additional purchases if you opt to have them shipped with your regular club shipment.

The folks at Plum Deluxe have been kind enough to offer a 10% off coupon for my readers! The coupon doesn’t apply to club subscriptions, but you can apply it to an order for some of the wonderful tea blends on their website. Just enter this in the VIP Code field when you place your order: teishknitsreaders

If you do try out some of the delicious teas by Plum Deluxe, do let me know which ones you tried, and what you thought!

Egg Carton Seed Starter

I’m a wannabe gardener with a black thumb. I love plants, and while I grew up helping tend the garden every summer, I can’t seem to make anything grow reliably. I try again each spring, always hoping that this is the year when I’ll have a garden that survives!

Since we can’t plant seeds outside until after Memorial Day at this latitude, I know that starting some of my plants indoors is a must. I got a special seed starter tray, and honestly, only some of the seed sprouts are doing well. I’m just hoping they make it to the end of May when they can go live outside in the garden. I picked up another packet of seeds later, but didn’t have any more room in my fancy seed starter tray. Never one to let minor details like this deter me, I improvised!

Materials Needed:
Paper Egg Carton
Pan or Tray
Potting Mix
Seeds

Make sure your pan or tray is deep enough to hold a bit of water. Rip the lid of the egg carton and put the base in the pan. Fill the egg cups with potting mix and plant your seeds in the cups. Pour water into the pan and allow the egg carton to soak up the water. Find a sunny window to keep your seed starter in. Check it frequently to make sure the soil doesn’t dry out!

I started seeing sprouts of the Morning Glory seeds that I planted within a few days. Honestly, they’re doing better than the seeds in my fancy seed starting tray. We’ll see how well it works out over the next month, but I’m inclined to stick with the egg carton seed starters exclusively next year just based on how well it’s worked so far!

I’m hoping that I’ll have photos of a thriving garden to post on Instagram later this summer, but time will tell. Is anyone else starting seeds inside this spring? What’s you’re favorite trick for seed starting?

Thoughts for Tuesday, April 30th

Outside my windows… the snow in my yard is gone!

Inside my house… we’re enjoying the room to work on projects or just hang out with the great sewing room declutter, so we’re taking it to other rooms. The living room is first on the list.

Counting 1000 gifts… quilts on the couches and the kiddos who use them.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… Munchkin is working on a reading assignment, Camo is cooking up a project, while Mr. Q and Little Guy are wandering around the backyard and looking so much like my great-uncles that I can’t help but smile.

From my playlist… no music playing right now, just the rustle of LEGOs, the hum of the coal stove, and the rattle of the gerbil running in his exercise wheel – the soundtrack of my life I suppose!

From my reading list… Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt. I’m actually listening to the audiobook, but the chapter assignments are giving me something to think about.

From my needlework basket… I’m hand-quilting another quilt even though I keep saying that I’m not doing another one by hand. I may be turning into a crazy quilt lady.

In the learning room… Animal Farm was recently on Munchkin’s reading list. It was interesting to see what she thought of it as the story developed. High School is challenging, but it’s also quite fun to have some of these interesting discussions!

Random ramblings… I peeked out the window while making dinner and saw two of my boys ambling around the backyard, and in that moment something about them reminded me so much of my great-uncles — Quinton and Way. I miss them quite a lot sometimes, but it warms my heart to see a bit of them reflected in my boys.

Profound ponderings… “Sometimes you have to let go of the picture of what you thought life would be like and learn to find the joy in the story you’re living.” – Unknown

Caught on film…

Book Review: Placemaker

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own, and I was not paid to give a favorable review.

If you asked me to classify which book genre Placemaker fits into, I don’t think I could pick just one. A bit like a memoir, with tidbits about gardening and home projects, all interwoven with lessons about life, family, friends, and faith. The tagline on the front cover intrigued me: Cultivating places of comfort, beauty, and peace. I had no idea what to expect from this book, and it’s one of the more unique ones I’ve read this year.

I enjoyed reading about Christie’s memories on the various places she’d lived and how different they all were. Just as mesmerizing were the people she met along the way that she wrote about. I kept wanting to read just a bit more because it was a fascinating book. Placemaker seemed like a book that was randomly jumping around at first, but then I realized it was like a slow ambling down memory lane. Something about that appealed to me, and seemed refreshing. The lessons learned throughout the book gave me something to think about and ponder in between reading sessions.

I’ve always been particularly attached to this piece of dirt that I grew up on and now call home. Placemaker came at a time when being so attached to this small corner of the world was difficult. The reminders of what home really means, and how we can make our home anywhere that we find ourselves were things that I needed desperately to hear.

I still can’t quite classify what kind of book Christie Purifoy’s Placemaker is, but it’s been a lovely read that I fully intend to read through again! I think people who enjoy memoirs or personal stories will enjoy it as much as I did. Considering how close we are to Mother’s Day, it may be exactly the kind of book your mom would like to read! Include a bookmark and a bit of good tea or coffee and you’d have a lovely little gift set.